In Search of an Iris

FEBRUARY 19, 2020 : On Sunday, a beautiful sunny, crisp, winter day, my daughter Tamar asked if I would like to go hiking with her to see some irises tomorrow. I was busy Monday Tuesday (both warm sunny days) and suggested we postpone until Wednesday. When it started raining Tuesday night, we cancelled the idea.

However Wednesday morning, I wake up to beautiful, warm sunshine. Where’s the rain? I check my phone and call Tamar to tell her the weather now says its going to be a sunny day, not raining. The hike was back on – we arrange to meet in an hour.

I pick up Tamar and drive south towards Rehovot. We reach our destination – Givat Humra – and turn off the main highway onto a small dirt road probably better suited to 4WD, drive up the hill and decide to park because the road becomes too rocky. From the car, in the distance, we can already spot one group of irises – beautiful, majestic dark purple irises all clustered together.

And just as we are about to start walking, the raindrops start falling. One large dark cloud looms above our heads. We convince ourselves that once this cloud passes, the sunshine will return. We decide to wait it out in the car. Five minutes, 10 minutes. Now It does not seem to be raining as hard any more – so we go.

As we leave the car, the rain stops, and we begin our hunt for irises. We do not need to look too hard – they are all over the place. Groups of irises clustered together over here and over there. Some still have many bulbs that have not yet opened. Good for future visitors.

The official name of these irises is Iris atropurpurea, the coastal iris. They bloom only for a short time during February / March along the coast in Israel. In Hebrew, the iris is called אירוס הארגמן  which translates as The Purple Iris.

Just as impressive as the irises, are the large white blossoming Rotem bushes. The white of the bush provides a beautiful backdrop to the deep purple of the iris, both sitting in a field of new green growth.

We have almost finished the short loop walk (calling it a hike would be a stretch of the imagination), when about 100 meters from our car, we start to feel the rain. We run into the car and as we slam the doors it starts pouring down – pouring down very hard – like turn the windshield wipers on high hard.   Tamar and I look at each other and smile – our walk had perfect timing.

P.S. I have a special affinity to the iris. When growing up in America, on the first day of school, my new teacher would see my foreign name, Irit, on the class list and assume it was a spelling mistake. They would then call me Iris.