Yesterday (Sunday in the USA) was Sizdeh Bedar (or "Nature Day") the holiday that ends the two-week Norouz (lit.New Day) New Year season of celebration. It's a day when Iranians— families, couples, and friends of all ages—go to the park. Even in parks in American or European cities you may well have noticed a lot of Iranian picnics!
Not only on Sizdeh Bedar... Persians often socialize by going into nature, and particularly to the sometimes very beautiful city parks of Iran—particularly in cities with beautiful parks, like Isfahan or Shiraz. (BTW, Walking in the park is among the very few socially acceptable ways under the strict rules of the Islamic Republic for couples to spend time together in public.)
The pictures here capture the peaceful languor of a free day I was able to spend in the remarkably beautiful city of Isfahan, along the Zayandeh Rud, where our delegation relaxed, mingling with hundreds of Iranian families and friends and many young couples.
It reminded me of a perfect day for hiking back home in beautiful Marin County—except the mood. Persians seemed so much more relaxed than Californians! Not so mindful of time. Open. Receptive. What a disconnect from the TV screens in the Terminal at JFK before we boarded our flight, with their bold banner headlines, "WAR WITH IRAN?"
Believe it or not, while the UN voted sanctions and while the whole British sailor detention crisis has unfolded, most Iranians have been cooling out at home, ever since March 20th, enjoying their Norouz break. Today's their first back-to-work day.