Say you are a relatively new Israeli like me, less than 10 years in the country. Say you live in the Center, or as we call it here the “Gush Dan”. Most likely, the only red thing you would know about the South of Israel is the Alarm. “Zeva Adom”, the name of the anti-missile alarm that resounds every now and then for months in a row since Hamas started dropping rockets anywhere around the Gaza strip, roughly aiming for civilians, kindergartens and just wherever they can get.
But then, every year when February comes, the weather forecast man at the end of the evening news starts showing pictures of beautiful fields of red anemones and speaking about “Darom Adom”, the red South. A slightly evil genius of marketing must have thought: well, if everyone already knows the “Zeva Adom” (which in Hebrew means literally “Red Color” and doesn’t mention any alarm, or missile in its name), why not to play with it and twist it into something nice, friendly, and even pretty? And we know evil geniuses of marketing always succeed.
So there you are, on the highway southbound, just past Ashkelon, music keeping your mind from thinking how close you are to Gaza and dormant Hamas rockets. All of a sudden the GPS points towards a small road that becomes less and less of a road until it’s a gravel road, surrounded by a sparse wood and green fields, where red anemones are about to take completely over and cover the green.
It’s the “Red South”, where blossoming season lasts four weeks and thousands of festive Israelis come down to see the beauty and take the pictures. Gravel roads are flowed with caravans selling food to the visitors and products from the area, in places where there is absolutely nothing but fields of red flowers: it feels like a surprise party, or a pop-up Luna park, where the only game needed is the inebriating, fluorescent red of the anemones.
*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.