Today we went to the orchard two ways, some of us walked the long way around as the occupying Border Police had advised. Some of us rode through the occupying army check point on a farmers tractor. We all got in.
While working I could see what looked like smoke blowing over the far mountains, above the rim of the Jordon Valley. But it turned out to be dust storms blowing up from the valley, the dust precipitating out when the air expanded after the mountains.
|dust cloud hanging over the rim of the Jordon Valley on east winds|
After all the picking we had been doing I finially decided to try the little rakes which are always in the field but no one seems to use. I found them very useful. They are not good when the branches are tangled, but most of the rest of the time they seem to be faster. You need to be on the outside end of the branch (often not the case when climbing the tree) because the rakes work stroking away from the trunk. With a short handle (a 1.5 ft stick) they make the arms reach a lot longer. But I still found there were times I did not use it.
As we picked we moved closer to the settlement road. I noticed as we got closer with each passing car all the Palestinians got alert, and if a car slowed down they all paused in their work to see if there would be trouble. The farm family was visibly glad and appreciative that we were able to finish. It all feels so insidious it is obvious that the three days they were allowed to be in their olive orchard was not enough time for them to complete the harvest with out additional help and then the order specifically band additional help.
In Bunin, on the hill opposite where we were picking, I asked a Palestinian American about the high terraces that did not seem to have anything growing on them (above where we had been picking). He explained that the settlers had burned or cut the trees off of them. He said, you should be here in the summer, the settlers set fire to old auto tiers and role them down the hill, starting brush fires on the hills and burning orchards.
|a borro that worked in the orchards with us|