Photographs by Addi Cohen Ziv & Yoram Rosenbaum
I'm lucky enough to live by the Yarkon River and recently I took a stroll before lunch. Naturally, I remembered to put on sun block, since the day was, as usual in our tropical summer weather, hot with blue skies and brilliant sunshine, but there was a soft breeze too. I walked out of my apartment building, down the steps, crossed the road and there I was in parkland on both sides of the river; giggling youngsters were sailing by watching the fishermen's concentrated efforts. Groups of families were relaxing on the grass or preparing barbecues for lunch with mountains of food, drink, tables and chairs, or walking their dogs and keeping an eye on their kids. Wonderfully light, bright, happy faces enjoying Shabbat.
Crossing over the bridge I continued on my way, planning first to say 'hi' to my friend Jackie who goes to Israeli folk dancing in the park every week, a free activity provided by the municipality. Lovers of Israeli folk dancing are almost akin to alcoholics - they are well and truly hooked and need their “fix” on a regular basis. There were hundreds of whirling, swirling dancers and my friend was much too engrossed to notice me trying to catch her eye. “Never mind,” I smiled to myself, “I'll catch her on the way back.”
I continued onwards, past the football games and the basketball players and stopped to watch in awe as climbers tackled the sheer face of a four-sided “wall”. Of course, each of them wore a safety harness, but still, it must be at least 60 ft high. At the trampolines a dozen youngsters were hurling themselves acrobatically in every direction and another dozen were impatiently waiting their turn. I stopped for a cool drink and noticed the growing queue for hot dogs at the next kiosk.
Babies were being pushed along in their strollers - wait a minute, that one's going at high speed I thought to myself - then I saw who was pushing it - a dad on roller blades! Well, nothing much surprises me nowadays and of course the next stop was the roller skating rink. I sat and watched the macho guys showing off their skills, but didn't stay long; the music was a bit loud for me. Some lithe figures caught my eye - a Tai Chi group was calmly practicing smooth movements in a secluded corner. How I envied their serenity! The view along the route was picturesque - the palm trees providing welcome shelter, colorful flowering shrubs filling the air with a subtle fragrance, the ‘Chick Chack’ park train tootling along, cheerfully being overtaken by cyclists, and games in full swing.
Children’s birthday parties were being celebrated and in the traditional way the families had marked out their areas with balloons tied to the trees. A clown was strutting his stuff, provoking huge squeals of laughter from his young audience as he pelted them with soft toys as part of his entertainment.
Young artists were catered for at special tables set up with drawing and painting equipment. There were pony rides, bouncing castles, an animal corner, a café – no, it's not a holiday camp or a funfair site - just a regular Saturday by the river in Tel Aviv.
I felt myself energized and rejuvenated by the activity surrounding me. Lingering by the river, the breeze felt like silk caressing my cheek and I closed my eyes and turned my face towards the sun.
Reluctantly, I turned homewards retracing my steps, planning to relax a little before my guests arrived for afternoon tea (and yes, I had made English scones…).