Hi! There. Manishma?

Tortoise, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Nahal Dishon National Park, Upper Galilee, Israel

Vipers are what I had in a corner of the back of my mind. Israel is in the Middle East. Fact is, many vipers are native to this part of the world. March 2016 and here I am (Lucky Boy! for sure) in the Upper Galilee, very close to the border of that now bedraggled land, Lebanon. Windy roads rising and descending this hilly region separate villages that are distant from one another. Lots of wildlife here, and . . . butterflies. Beautiful butterflies.

I’ve followed an ancient cattle trail, and as usual I’ve made no less than 1 million steps off trail, following that butterfly, or investigating this wildflower/orchid. The kid in the candy shop, me. Always there is that thought, keep aware, for ‘many vipers are native’ to this very place. Thankfully, I have never seen one, since I began these field excursions in 2008.

Never seen one ranks near the top of my Thank Y-u List, never seen one and never met one.

Happily, enthusiastically! I met this Pookie! that morning. “Manishma!” I greeted her (?). Translation? “How are you?” A Middle Eastern tortoise. 9:40 A.M. and the Sun was beginning to bake all, and I nearly stepped on it as it was ascending a gentle slope. I shot away, and watched as it worked its way under vegetation. This was to be its cover from the hot sun, until sunset, I suppose.

A chance encounter, the only one I had for those 4+ hours, with the exception of cattle, which you’ve read here, can turn up, anywhere. She didn’t respond to my query, but we both had a break in our mornings. Not a viper for me, but a very comely tortoise.



3 thoughts on “Hi! There. Manishma?

  1. What a wonderful creature to meet on a walk. Manishma would make a cool name for it ! I adore tortoises and all the years I have trekked fields and woods and back roads I have never seen one in the wild. If am fortunate enough to come across one in the future I imagine I would still be there taking photos and finding strawberries to feed it, long after my field partners have moved ahead to newer finds and views! LOL Just a warning for anyone who hikes with me , , , , , , , ,


  2. very cool that with all those miles in hunt for the winged beauties you track so avidly, you can enjoy a moment with a more “common” forest native..is that some trillium peeking around manishima?


    • I haven’t considered nicknaming this buster, ‘Manishma.’ LOL. “Mainishma” (Mah nish mah) is hebrew for “How are you.” I used it as a greeting of sorts to said tortoise, as in ‘Hello, and how are you?” I was keen on seeing butterflies, remembered to be sober about where I was re: certain snakes, and hadn’t prepped myself for encountering, a tortoise!


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