Elie loves mint in tea. It’s a great Israeli classic. If tea and milk is considered English tea, I guess we can consider tea with mint a great Israeli love. Israelis break off leaves of fresh mint and steep it in tea (actually, so do the Arabs and Bedouins, so maybe it is a Mideastern thing. Whoever it belongs to…Elie’s adapted it as his favorite.
Many people have mint – nana – bushes growing near their home. We don’t…yet. When we first lived in Israel, we rented. Then we bought our first home here and the gardens were a personal triumph for me. We planted a lemon tree, mango, and others. Flowers, grass, hedges – no design, just slowly made it ours. Then we moved to Maale Adumim and rented a house on the edge of the cliff. The wind was very strong, the house rather neglected, the gardens non-existent. I had thought of actually putting gardens in, but the land wasn’t mine and didn’t call to me.
Last summer, we bought a house in this neighborhood that I love. The garden is small, but nice and again it calls to me. It has some trees, but needs work. Elie wants to put in a mint bush. It needs a lot of water. We’ll hopefully do it soon – and then Elie told me another of his army stories…
Seems that mint and tea is an army tradition and so almost every base has a mint bush. Elie’s group had a large crate which held ammunition. After the shells were fired – they had the large empty crate. One of them got the idea to fill it with dirt and plant a nana bush. Elie gave it an IV. That’s right – he took an intravenous contraption and hooked it to the bush. Each day or so, they filled the IV tube with a liter and a half bottle, which slowly dripped into the bush. The bush prospered and grew; the soldiers regularly pulled off leaves for their tea.
Each time the unit moved to a new base, they unhooked the IV bag, lowered it into the crate; closed the top of the crate; shipped it to the new base; opened the crate, fixed the IV…and once again had nana growing.
It’s a fast growing bush if it gets enough water – apparently between the water and sun, it grew fast enough and large enough to keep Elie and his friends with a constant supply of nana. Elie has asked Shmulik to bring home a cutting from his base…or maybe I’ll remember and buy him a plant. But I just loved the idea of this crate of nana, traveling from base to base.
It continues to amaze me how much the army remains a part of Elie’s life and experiences. He still talks to his friends, those still in, and those that have left. He still relates to things today as part of what he knows from then.
You can take the mint out of the army…but you can’t take the mint out of Elie’s life.