This is definitely one of those lessons I learned the hard way. Yesterday we had hot wind from the south. The temperature shot up into the high 20s, and wind woke us up in the morning as it slapped date palm branches against our bedroom window. I love having open windows and was excited for it to be a bit warmer (ask me in August how I feel about warm weather then), so I opened our blinds and windows throughout the apartment. We are lucky enough to have three "kivunei avir"-- directions of air-- which meant the wind travels right through our apartment in the glories of cross-ventilation.
What I didn't take into consideration was that yesterday wasn't just wind from the south-- it was a sandstorm (known when it travels this far and is this diluted as a "dust storm," or sharav in Hebrew). I guess I'd expected "sandstorm" to look more like something out of Lawrence of Arabia-- you know, men hunched forward on camels with turbans wrapped around their faces, disappearing into the orange haze. And I'm sure that is what a sandstorm would involve if I were much further south. Here on this side of the Carmel Mountain, we are mostly sheltered, but I should have seen the signs: the sky looked cloudy, yet the clouds were yellowish. Shadows were still sharp on the lawn, indicating (if I'd been paying attention) that the clouds weren't actually thick cumulo nimbus (or whatever) after all. And yes, it did take a certain amount of willpower to ignore the fact that my hair, face, and hands were all starting to feel just a bit dry and gritty.
At any rate, this morning I was sweeping my floor when I realized that I was gathering a deep pile of reddish-brown dust. Then I wiped off our dining room table and was shocked by how quickly my paper towel turned reddish-brown. Basically, thanks to my obession with open windows (as my husband sometimes calls it), now the entire southern half of our apartment is covered in a thin dusty film... or at least it was until I spent a few hours attacking the grime this morning.
Live and learn! And now I REALLY need a shower.
UPDATE: Muse posted beautiful descriptions and pictures of the dust storm here. Also, apparently this weather is really hazardous to those suffering from breathing conditions such as asthma, and ironically enough today is World Asthma Day.
Ali Abunimah, Expert On Mental Illness
3 hours ago