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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: An evening walk in Jerusalem
By Petra van der Zande


The cool evening brings relief after the warm day.
When I put on my sneakers, the dogs prick their ears, but I have to disappoint them,
“No, not yet. I’m walking alone.”

“Bye love, enjoy your walk!”
Leaving my husband to watch the children, I ponder which route to take. Our Jerusalem neighborhood lies on a hill, and depending on the energy level, I can choose different routes.
It’s been a stressful day, so I opt for the strenuous one.

As I set out, the evening sun caresses the Jerusalem-stone buildings, coloring them soft golden pink.
Crossing the rocky, sandy plot, the cooler air enhances wormwood’s aroma.
My heart swells in praise for the Creator, when I look at the shaded valley, harboring the jackal.

It’s 7.30 pm, but the mini-market is still busy serving customers.
Nachum, the ‘king-of-the-road’ Labrador (with the habit of lying on the road), lies on the cool, concrete bus-stop floor. I stoop down and let him smell my hand. He knows me and turns on his side to receive a belly rub.
“You’ll be careful with all those cars!” I tell him.
He answers with a grunt like a piglet.

My muscles complain when I climb uphill towards the Beit Vegan neighborhood.
The tall pine trees lining the quiet street sway in the breeze, creating a sea-like sound.
“Tshjack, tshjack!” Quickly the woodpecker hides behind the trunk when I look up.

There are not many people around, only a few girls waiting at the bus-stop. In Jerusalem I can safely walk on my own, something I wouldn’t think of doing in Amsterdam, or any other big city in the world.

By now I’ve reached the highest point, and rounding a corner, enter a different world.
Light is fading fast, as we don’t have twilight, but the main street is teeming with people enjoying the cool evening.
A group of orthodox Jews pray in front of the synagogue.
The fruit and vegetable shop vents a tantalizing smell of nectarines.
There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic on the narrow pavement, and as I let an obviously pregnant mother pushing a stroller pass by, I notice she has 3 small children in tow.
The discarded seeds of the Eucalyptus trees lining the street make a crunchy sound when I walk over them, releasing a spicy scent.
Young girls herd their little brothers and sisters home, while hurried men carry plastic bags with groceries.
On the street corner, two elderly, white bearded men are in a heated discussion, as two small boys try to cross the busy street. I head towards them, but a man already takes their hand and helps them to the other side.

Before my eyes I see Biblical prophecies fulfilled: “…men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem…” (Zechariah 8:4 NIV) and “The city streets [of Jerusalem] will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” (Zechariah 8:5 NIV)
Lord, bless these people, I pray while dodging little boys on bicycles and more mothers with strollers.

Turning left and leaving the main street behind me, my heated face is treated to a cool breeze.
The western sky enfolding before my eyes would challenge a painter to capture this breathtaking view on canvas. The hills surrounding Jerusalem hide the sinking sun, but the sky is a palette of navy and cornflower blue, fading into red copper and orange spice. Silhouettes of thin cypresses and tall pine trees make the postcard complete.
Like Psalm 28:7, my heart leaps for joy – how great you are o God!

I count two bright solitude stars in the night sky. When number three appears, a new day has started, for the Jewish day begins at sundown.

Before descending the last hill, I pause to look at the view in front of me.
The dark outlined hills set against the royal blue sky, are full of twinkling lights, sparkling like diamonds. Inhaling the cool air, I thank God for the great pleasure of living in this special country.
Jerusalem, with its variety of people, is also full of views that never cease to gladden my heart.
There is such happiness in knowing that we are in the place where God wants us to be.

“Back already? Did you enjoy your walk?” my husband asks as I enter the house.
The dogs wiggle their tails in hopeful anticipation, while I tell my husband about the joyous walk.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Judith Hope07/21/07
Really enjoyed the picturesque description and gentle walking pace of your story of a walk. Thought it very beautiful. Would love to have known more of what you were thinking as you walk. Also would have found the last sentence more satisfying if it had given more insight into what you finally thought. A rather tame ending to such a promising and fulfilling walk and story. A little r5ewrite with some personal aspect would make it perfect for me.
Seema Bagai 07/21/07
Thank you for painting a picture in words of Jerusalem.