From the Back Story
. . . The origins of the title story are complex, but their center point leapt into being at 4:30 in the morning on a July day in 1972. I was coming out of my room at Kibbutz Neve Eitan in the Beit Shan Valley, heading for work in the date groves before the heat reached 125 degrees. The security lights were still on, bluish white against what was not quite the dawn; the sweet smell of desert plants combined with the scent of irrigation water; and the stars were visible through gaps in the trees. As I descended the first step and my right foot hit the ground, I felt something soft, like a rag, beneath it, and then I heard a terrible exhalation and a sound like that of twigs snapping. In the darkness, I had stepped on a mourning dove and, unfortunately, had not quite killed it. I had to go to work, and yet I could not bring myself to leave it. It was suffering greatly, and yet I could not bring myself to kill it. And as the light came up and my wife joined me, we saw that it was one of the most beautiful creatures ever in the world, and its innocence and gentleness were ravishing and have remained so for me even unto this day. In September, in Bat Gallim, by the sea, I began to write the story . . .