Study and Theory/
Yom Kippur

Amotz Cohen

Nature in Elul

In Elul, which corresponds to September, it is possible to distinguish between the beginning and the end of the month. The beginning still belongs to the height of summer; the dryness and the heat continue and may even intensify. Conversely, temperatures drop at the end of the month and the season of nighttime dew begins. More than once, the skies are cloudy, coalescing into a single sheet and the first rain fails; empty rain, which evaporates in an hour, and the winter air briefly takes over.

 

The coastal lily is the first to awaken.

 

It is a citizen of the region closest to the sea, a few steps from the beach, on the sand dunes and the slopes of the abundant kurkar stone along the coast. There you will find the clear flowers and their aroma, deeply refreshing on the stem. On the sides are leaves, burnt at the edges by the summer heat. The air is saturated with salt water spray from the sea where the waves break – that is the place that this plant favors.

 

The squill is another typical plant.

It begins to flower in mid-Av, and in Elul is it in full bloom. Its home is throughout the country. Its stem grows almost to the height of a man and has scores of flowers. The flowering generates awe: everything is burnt and dry, but out of the ruins emerge water-filled stems bearing refreshing flowers that are full of life. The awe grows when you see that there is no green leaf at the base of the stem. It is sufficient to dig just a little, and sometimes not even that, to discover the large bulb – it is the largest bulb among Israel’s bulbous plants – from which the stem and its flowers obtain their food and building materials. Thanks to this bulb, the squill can survive in dry soil. Even if it is uprooted by a plow and left detached on the ground, it can bud. If you cut into the bulb, you will see its thick size full of food. The density of the growths protects it from evaporation. The bulb can survive detached for up to ten years, albeit under these conditions it only produces leaves and no flowers.

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