WALKING THROUGH PARADISE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Paradise

Although Jerusalem was my home and I loved it beyond words, I had a second passion which was the Galilee. That northern part of Israel is rich and beautiful. The wildflowers alone are worth a trip in the spring. I don’t know how the seasons are now.

The best little piece of the Galilee is Tel Dan, archaeological site and nature reserve.

Wild poppies in the Galilee

In Hebrew, it is “Gan Eden” and there’s a sign (or was, anyway) in English that read “Paradise” with an arrow. Just follow the path.

I haven’t been back since September 2001 and much has changed, especially the weather. But it used to be that May in the Galilee, the open fields were covered with wild poppies, scarlet against the green grass.

Waters in full flow at Tel Dan – Photo by Shmuel Baram

Israel has a climate that is not unlike Arizona, which is to say winter is rainy and green. Chilly unless you are atop a mountain, but not usually cold … not like the cold we get here. Spring starts very early, in January when the almond trees bloom and April and May are typically breathtaking. The ground is still moist from the winter rains and the world is green.

Later in the summer, months after the rain has ended and it’s just plain hot with a blue sky and sun that never ends, everything turns brown or beige or tan with little green to be found except on balconies overflowing with flowers.

Review of Tel Dan

One spring, we traveled up to Tel Dan. It is obvious that there has been considerable development, archaeological, in the park itself, and of course, hotels. When we were there early in the 1980s, it was a park with some archaeology work in progress, but no hotels. No fancy walkways.

It was a “school trip” or a family outing. Now it’s fancier and there is more to see, but I think I liked it better before the betterment.

Entryway to Tel Dan Nature Reserve

There’s a lot of information about it and a lot of photographs, too. This is one of the magical places in the world. You can see it, feel it. It is part of the source waters of the Jordan River and has been in existence since before Abraham which is at least 5,000 years.

Wading pool at Tel Dan

There are several websites about the park, but this is the one at which I would start: The Tel Dan Nature Reserve. The site is written in English and Hebrew (there are probably other languages too). It includes some amazing photographs. The big waterfall is the Banias (originally probably “Panaeus” from the Greek).

The Dan River

When I was there, there were no “floating walkways.” You just tripped along rocks and roots through the flowing Dan river as it bubbled up out of the mountain. There are deep pools which look inches in deep because the water is absolutely clear and frigidly icy. That’s where I met my first bee-eater who was every color in the rainbow.

The Banias by Mount Hermon

There is also a lot of archaeological digging in progress. There remains much more to discover including caves, alters and probably a lot more below ground. It is one of the oldest known sites in the area. Not as old as Jericho or the caves at Carmel, but very old and continuously inhabited for most of its time.

I walked through Paradise and I don’t doubt for a minute that it was indeed Paradise. It felt like it to me.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

23 thoughts on “WALKING THROUGH PARADISE – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. My best friend came to visit and took back a couple of gallons of water from the Jordon for her church. There isn’t much water in the Jordan anymore. Both Jordan and Israel use the water for crops, so in a lot of places, it’s just moist earth and reeds. Even the Galilee was very low. I gather though that the strange climate we have has changed that. I went swimming in the Galil. The water was lovely.

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  1. Thank you for your post – we recently got back from Israel and unfortunately my mind is a blur when it comes to locations and why they are significant. I do have a photo of the exact same view of the rushing river that you posted! When I get it all sorted, I’ll blog about it. Thanks for the link to a resource about Tel Dan!

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    1. The problem with most trips to Israel is they are far too short. There’s SO much to see. I lived there for almost a decade and I still missed a lot of it. I’d love to see your pictures. We went there not only with three kids, but also a puppy who tried to swim down the waterfall. I never ran so fast in my life to grab his collar and haul him out of the water before he went over the cliff! The kids at least recognized danger. The puppy didn’t.

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    1. I probably couldn’t do the walk now, but I gather they have added a wheelchair accessible path, which is less romantic but definitely an improvement. This is not one of the places you find “listed” on places to visit in Israel, but other than Lachish and Jerusalem, I think Tel Dan and the Banias was the most memorable part I have ever seen. I could see why it is considered the Garden of Eden. It feels like it.

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    1. I think if I had a bucket list, that would still be on it. Technically, all I have to do is call the Israeli consulate and tell them Garry and I need to “go home.” They would literally take care of the rest. But Garry is very settled in America. He hates what is going on, but this is home, although I wonder how much worse it would have to be to get us to think in other directions. It’s weird for me, sometimes, when I realize I really DO have another country and a passport and they will take me and my husband (Jewish or not, they do not care) in, give us a place to live and free medical care. I left so long ago … sometimes it feels like a dream.

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  2. I would be darn tempted to go under those conditions, too, especially considering the “conditions” here in the U.S. On the other hand, I certainly do understand feeling settled in a place and not wanting to leave the familiar. No place is perfect, either, as time has shown, over and over.

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    1. I AM tempted. But Garry is going to be 77 in April. I don’t think he’s up to dealing with a country that is so different, though I think he’d LOVE the weather. If I thought we were really in danger, I’d be working harder on it, but I don’t think we are. We aren’t thrilled with our lives, but we are safe enough for now, anyway.

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  3. I’ll never travel to Israel, but I love seeing it through your eyes. I’d love to cool my feet in that wading pool. I must admit, however, that the first thing I thought of when I saw your poppy photos was that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy fell asleep in the poppy field. I wonder if the author of that scene got the idea from a prior visit to Galilee?

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    1. That water is actually icy cold because it comes up from deep in the mountain. So I dabbled my feet — until they went numb. It IS a beautiful place. I keep trying to convince my husband to move there but he’s got a thing about being an American.

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