In the shade of the cedar tree

by Aline Abboud

Black and white thinking (Issue II/2022)


Aline Abboud. Photo: Kirsten Nijhof / zb /picture alliance

In summer, when temperatures rise to over 40 degrees Celsius in the cities, the Lebanese pack their bags and head for their holiday homes in the hills. At night, the temperature there sinks as low as 10 degrees. And during the day you can stroll under the shade of the cedar branches and between the olive trees.

The cedar tree is Lebanon's national symbol. People say that a piece of cedar bark is effective against moths infesting your wardrobe. My uncle always wore a piece of cedar on a chain around his neck because, it was said, Jesus Christ's cross was made from cedar wood. These days, you only really see the very ancient cedars one at a time, or in nature reserves such as in the Chouf mountains. Because the wood was so hard, the ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians used cedar to build ships. They cut down many forests.

Today the cedars are at risk from climate change. They need cold temperatures and water to grow but the winters here keep getting shorter.
Anyone who is flying into Lebanon should take a seat on the left side of the plane. That way they will get a unique view of the coast, with its steep mountain ranges, home to the cedar trees. I highly recommend it.

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