Nothing in this world compares to the feeling of gliding through a rocky mountain gliding under the skis, silently and feeling like you’re, for once, at peace. White snow covers the land with the coolness of winter’s kiss. The warmth of the sun never leaves this country as the cold settles in. Winter swims, hikes, and skiing with the scent of chill ting the air. The breeze circles, lost, caught in winter’s snare. Its bitter currents whispered through a miasma of cold waves. A world encased in this winters kiss swims in the sun’s dying rays. I, on the other hand, sit on the beach and enjoy this motley of fading blues entombed in the silence of space.
This Lebanese cliché everyone loves to hate; needless to say I am not one of those. I find it to be one of the most beautiful clichés about Lebanon. In a nutshell it draws everything that is beautiful and worthwhile about living here.
One can go skiing in the morning and swimming on the same day, says every tourist guidebook on Lebanon by way of illustrating the remarkable diversity of its climate. With the advent of warmer weather but still capricious cold weather, the ultimate cliché could have been lived out as people in the cold morning took to the frosty ski slopes while others splashed about in the warm Mediterranean Sea at the same time.
I’ve done it about 10 years ago and I still remember feeling like I have achieved a formidable undertaking. We had spent the night before in Faraya, woke up early the next morning to start skiing as early as possible. We decided to leave Faraya at around 1:30 pm heading quickly to Jbeil. If my memory serves me well, we got there around 2:30. I kicked off my shoes to feel the baked, orange sand between my toes. To my surprise, the beachgoers abounded, lounging and playing in the water. I changed into my bathing suite and ran to the water, hoping that the coldness of the water would not bite me if I rushed into it. It did and it felt like waves of coldness putting my body into a trance. It felt wonderful. I remember looking at the sky trying to snatch a glimpse of sun as the water was sparkling rippling beauty around me.
I always find myself in wintertime on some beach with my children. As the sun shines and the children play, the heat radiates from the passing day onto the warm golden sand of the beach. This love I have for the sea can never fade. For in winter, I am in summer still. I see the wide blue sky. Not even a cloud is there floating by. In the cool water, I witness dogs that swim. I see butterflies floating only on a whim. I know it’s days like these that make life worthwhile. Days like these, on a sandy beach in February, as people are skiing in the mountains, I burry my feet in the warm sand and gaze at my boys play and I can’t help but feel blessed, blessed for this weather, blessed for this sea, and blessed for having all of this to share with my children as they form their childhood memories.
To my Lebanon, thank you for the memories of winter swims and children building sand castles while the white sugar powdered mountains’ tips loom a short distance away.