Generally speaking there are two seasons in Israel - the Winter and the Summer. The winter is cool to cold with a few showers, and the summer is hot and rain-free. Winter in Israel starts in October-November and ends in March. It is is the most green and lush time of year. The rains of December, January and February bring out a fabulous display of wildflowers and the entire country turns green.
Cyclamen, rakefet in Hebrew (Latin name: Cyclamen persicum, the Persian cyclamen), are one of the popular winter flowers in Israel. It is a delicate flower, but it can grow almost anywhere, even in rocks and shady forest groves. Rakefot bloom throughout late winter and into spring, adding a touch of beauty to cool-weather hikes. They range in colour from pale pink to deep purple. Its petals grow upward instead of outward, so the flowers look like they're stretching up to the sky. It is said that King Solomon saw the rakefet as the model for his crown, and one of the Hebrew nicknames that has stuck to it is "Nezer Shlomo," King Solomon’s crown. The tubers at the root of these cyclamen plants have historically been used to make soap.
We drove down a dirt road into a wooded area, with cars parked in every imaginable spot, as is usual in Israel. A hand-painted sign pointed us in the direction of the hill. We quickly spotted our first rakefet, then more and more. Unmarked paths crisscrossed the grove in all directions, and we were able to walk around and enjoy the sight of the cyclamen without stepping on any.
We wandered away from the crowds (Israelis really love their wild flowers!) and found somewhere to put down our blanket. Armed with snacks and the weekend's newspaper, Mister Handmade in Israel enjoyed the peace and quiet (apparently when you have seen one cyclamen, you've seen them all!), whilst I took yet more photos and enjoyed moving from one cluster of rakefot to another. The sun's rays danced through the branches of the trees as I took my pictures. It was a magical sight.
Afterwards we made a return visit to our favourite goat farm at Tal Shahar, recently renamed the Iza Pziza Dairy. The name might have changed, but the fresh, organic goat cheese and yoghurt I purchased was delicious, and the goats were just as cute as ever!