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I've been having some real summer cravings this past week or so. I don't mean I just want it to get warmer (I do) and stop raining already (that too); I'm just incredibly homesick for the whole phenomenon of summer...

I miss the fine sand beaches, never more than an hour away, full of people ambling by for a quick suntan after work. At the weekend, petrol station giveaway umbrellas litter the yellow expanse as far as the eye can see, nodding in the breeze like so many garish palms. Deep-bronzed ladies spilling out of their leopardprint swimsuits struggling out of garden chairs whose legs have sunk deep into the moist sand to save a child from the surf, wipe its nose, force it to finish eating that banana, hard boiled egg, pitta with hoummus...

You walk into the market and, over the cries, hollers and entreaties of the stall owners, over the jabs of sharp elderly elbows nudging you out of the way, more than the fish guts on the filthy floors, more than the fresh bread just rolling out onto the alleyways on wooden trolleys, you smell the peaches. Mountains of them, hillocks and highlands and whole landscapes of peaches. From the smallest ones not bigger than a large plum, darkest bruisy purple with pulpy orange flesh that sends the juice spurting down your arm, drip-dripping off the tip of your elbow, to the ponderous palest-yellow giants, firm white flesh as crisp as an apple, coming away from the stone in two neat halves.

The nights come early, and as the asphalt gives up the collected heat of the day to the thick smooth air, a whole city sighs in relief, hills rolling around on their perches into more comfortable positions, like so many old couples settling onto their balcony to drink a cup of tea before bed time. Even in the middle of Jerusalem, late enough in the evening you have never seen such smooth, textured, proudly dark skies. I used to lie on the sofa and look at the wide open window, imagining that if I put my hand to the sqaure of matte blackness it would feel richly smooth as a strong warm dog's short pelt.

I want to see the watermelons rolling around the roadsides, rotund little alien invaders building their pyramids under ramshackle sun shelters on every busy intersection; deep, glossy forest green ones that grow hugely into cucumber-like behemoths, then later in the year rounder, more dainty light green striped ones with no seeds, always perfectly ripe whenever you crack them open. The sellers are brusque and proud, wiping the sweat out of their eyes. "Yes, lady, what do you want? You want to taste?" They drag a hand along their grubby shorts to dry it, then slash! stab! a shiny triangle red as virgin lips, drippingly sweet and cold in your hands and you taste and it's the taste of all your childhood summers come back again to remind you somewhere somehow you are still not so old after all.

If I ever leave England and go back home, I will probably be writing eulogies for the interminable dusky evenings, the brilliant emerald of the countryside and the sipping of tea in dappled sunlight on Sunday afternoons. All these are good and wondrous things.

But for now, I miss my hard nosed, pushy country with its bad tempered summers in which even the least romantic can find something to enjoy, so painfully and tenderly that it makes them want to fight to keep it their own.


With apologies to my LJ friends who have had to read this twice. LJ is nice, but it doesn't have pipelinks...

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