Early this morning I got the ladder and placed it beneath the apricot tree. An apricot is ready if you cup it in your hand and it comes off. Then, it must be eaten immediately. If the apricot sits in a pan for just a few minutes it will bruise. Tomorrow there will be many more ready. Since it will be more than my family will eat in one day, I'll make pies with the rest. Last night, my first night in central California, which is home, I enjoyed kibbee, grapeleaves, hummus, and baklava prepared by my mother and sister. This morning I ate zatar, which is wild thyme. One dips a little bit of bread in olive oil and then in the thyme. Coming home to a nice Arabic meal has been my summer routine for about twenty-five years. I came back a little earlier this year than in years past so was lucky to get in on the apricots. The first crop of figs will be ready in a couple weeks. I'm looking forward to retirement so that I'll be able to enjoy the citrus. For the past twenty-five years, I've only made it home once, when my father lay dying, to smell the citrus blooms.
I can not imagine not being able to return to my parents' house in Central California. I take it for granted. Palestinians, however, are admonished that it it "extremist" of them to expect to return to the place where they were born, the place where they were married, the place where they gave birth, the place where they tilled the soil, the place where they planted trees, the place where they hung pictures, the place where they fell in love, the place where their parents' died, the place where they buried children, the place where they have their roots.