I walked into a live minefield

September 6, 2018 by Joshua
in Stories

In my ongoing efforts to be burdened with less material stuff, I’ve scanned many of my old photographs so I could get rid of the physical pictures. Now that I can see the images on my screen when I want, I’m not sure what to do with them besides sending them to a landfill, sadly, but I caused the physical waste when I paid for the pictures. I’m only moving it from one place to another now.

For those keeping track, I still haven’t thrown out my landfill waste since June 2017, so some of my trash this year dates to the 70s—for example, here’s the story leading to the picture below.

In the winter of 1979-80, my father took my two sisters and I for a tour of Israel and India. I was 8 years old.

For context, since my sisters and I went to the same school, which had one class per grade, we had passed through a teach who loved birdwatching, which she’d passed on to us, or at least my older sister and I. My younger sister may not have had that teacher yet.

At one point we were driving along the border between Israel and Lebanon or Syria. My memory of nearly four decades ago is hazy, but I think we had car trouble. In any case, we stopped along a chain-link fence marking a border zone, another chain-link fence in the distance, and a road leading from the road we were on in Israel through to the other country.

Someone must have stopped to help us because my dad was preoccupied with something, probably talking to that person, maybe trying to fix the car.

In any case, my sisters and I saw a bird on a tree stump off the road that went through the border zone. We had a list of local bird species and were trying to identifying as many as we could on the trip to check them off the list, so walked closer to see its markings.

Suddenly we heard, “STOP! Don’t move!” All caps, bold, and exclamation points don’t capture the boom behind my father’s voice.

We halted.

What was the issue? Were we in trouble? Did we do something wrong?

He said, “Walk back here to the road exactly how you walked there.”

We’d never heard an instruction like that. We didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, but we walked back as we walked in, as instructed, as confused as we were scared by his voice and concern.

Once we got back, he showed us this sign, oddly containing no English, stating roughly Danger! Land mines, words he could read but we couldn’t.

Danger Minefield

Danger: Land mines

I took this picture of the sign with my crappy plastic camera and it’s almost forty years old, so sorry about the image quality.

So that’s my story of having walked into a live minefield.

I don’t remember if we found out the kind of bird.

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