Palm Trees in the Storm

Palm tree in the storm, Israel weather
Palm tree in the storm, Israel weather,
Illustration by Netta Canfi
Palm tree in the storm, Israel weather,
Israel Illustrated

In my backyard there's a group of old Washingtonia Palm Trees. 
How old? 
Over a hundred years old, says my landlady.
I love them, they're so beautiful.

It's January now, the height of winter in Israel, and the fourth drought year in a row. (2018)
Instead of a good spread of rain, we're experiencing short, violent storms.
All night I heard the palm trees rustling in the wind, a blasting 100kmh according to measurements. I heard things falling and dragging around the yard.
In the morning I saw that some of the old dried palm fronds fell in the night. Thankfully not on anyone's head.
The veterans here in the village say one of these palms was hit by lightning some decades ago, and went up in flames. The firefighters put out the fire and cut down the tree. Big thunderstorms now, so here's hoping that doesn't happen again.

When I was little and Israel had just the one TV channel, the weather lady at the end of the news would present the forecast on the background of a beautiful watercolor drawing. 
There was a series of them, and you could pretty much guess which one they'll show for which weather. 
For stormy weather they really only had the one drawing, a dramatic illustration of palm trees in high wind, set against a dark cloudy background.
That drawing impressed me. I loved it so much I'd wait for bad weather just for the hope of seeing it again.

Years later, out of art school, I happened to meet the artist who made them, Yohanan Lakicevic.
A mutual acquaintance took me to his studio. At some point I realized that this was the guy who drew those Weather Paintings on TV. I started looking thru the framed pictures leaning on the wall in the studio; I knew they were there.

Yochanan saw me frantically flipping picture frames, and walked over to see what I was doing. 

What are you looking for? he asked.
The Palms In The Storm, I said.

He pulled out the right picture.
It was just as beautiful as I remembered.

Today, as I sat and listened to the wind howling and ruffling the trees in the yard, I made my little homage to The Palms In The Storm.



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