Spring by far is my favorite season. Every year when the snow finally melts I can’t get over the magic of the first spring sprouts. It’s as powerful as God’s promise never to bring a second flood. Regardless of the craziness that engulfs us daily when even nature at times seems to lose its grip and lash at us humans with unremembered fury. When April rolls in, the days get longer, the ground gets softer, and the green erupts. Soft greens at the beginning dot the ground or appear as tiny buds on the trees until one morning everything is green.

My favorites are old friends I saw last fall and are now coming back. The Clematis who all through the winter looked like a dead twig springs new leaves and buds that will open into glorious purple flowers. The sweet pea in the corner sends tender, shy shoots that from experience I know will grow and grow relentlessly and if not stopped will cover walls and windows. In the wet ditch, bordering the road the nine cattails raise their brown heads and sway in the light breeze while next to them my pride and joy, the wild lilies I planted years ago start their journey that will yield my favorite orange blossoms.

It’s nothing less than a dazzling celebration. The colors of the new growth mingle with the loud music of the peepers.  First, just a lone forerunner whose voice is heard at dusk from the wetland in the forest across the road but before long another one joins and another to create a deafening orchestra that salutes nature and will last all through the night reaching its crescendo shortly before dawn.

The cycle of life, perhaps a cliché, or maybe it holds an inner truth that we can adopt into our lives. Decline and death are but stages that interact with the spring bloom and the summer’s lush. It makes me feel good to know that the seeds I invested in the ground will forever become a part of this everlasting succession.

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Spring

 

Compartmentalizing is the name of the game

Work is to the front,

 A lobby and a reception desk

“Hi, how are you?”

“A room for one night, or two?”

 

Behind, is my living room

My books, my pictures, my cat,

My private life, just a warm breath away

A soft breath in my back.

 

In this land of opportunities, I call now home

Longing all the while for the one left behind,

History, memory, emotions intertwined

I keep them separate yet intact

 

I open doors and close them at will

Shine in a beam of light

Each room holds something that I like

Each room holds something I deride.

 

What’s holding me together

Are fine threads, hemmed in crude stitches,

An aggregate appearance

Graciously covers the cracks.

compart

houses

Two houses
They have nothing I common. One hangs to a cliff at the edge of the Judean desert, and the other sits at the end of a town road in a small town in Maine, and yet looking closer some similarities seem to shine through.
Both back against some open land; the remnants of an old forest behind one, the vast external emptiness of the desert knock on the walls of the other. If left to be, both will be claimed back by the forces of nature.
Both need to stand up to the harsh weather. Whether sandstorms or ice storms. The walls need to be strong, the windows able to bar off the constant battering and stand guard. The howling wind shouldn’t be allowed in.
Claimed from nature does not reveal the arduous work needed to make this happen. Pushing back the thick woods and channeling the snow runoff water in one. Placing the essential infrastructure in a barren land that knew only sparse human habitation, in the other.
Then the use of the local materials to erect the houses. The wood from the nearby forests became the lumber, and sturdy beams will hold one house’s structure for the next hundred years. Stone, sand, and cement will be used I the construction of the other.
Three bedrooms in one, three bedrooms in the other and of course all the conveniences of the western culture, kitchen-living room, TV.
So, you see, the difference between these two houses geographically located in different continents is a matter of opinion. Congested forest versus open land. Hundred shades of green versus thousands of shades of brown.
But what about the people? You might ask, reluctant to let go resisting what you might consider gross simplification.
What about the people?
Those who lived in one house and then in the other, did they remain the same?

Cooking for Passover

It is my mother’s cookbook that I kept after she passed away many years ago, so most of the recipes are hers. Every year I open it a few days before Passover and minutpass3es later I am treading knee deep in thoughts and images and even the smells of my childhood. I know from prior years that these enmeshed sensations, a neurological condition called synesthesia, is temporary and will pass after the holiday but for a brief period I let myself back into the land of memories.

The book’s hardcover is dull brown that is peeling in all four corners. When I open it, a stream of papers of all sizes and colors fall out and spread unevenly on the floor. Another thing I tend to forget is my habit to write recipes on random pieces of paper and tuck them inside the book, for a keepsake.  The pages themselves stained from the years and the many times they were touched with oily or flower covered hands.

As I flip through the book, gently, so not to tear the pages that tend to stick to each other, I make it to the part marked Passover. I look at my mother’s angular handwriting and remember how the Hebrew letters, she adopted late in her life, never gained an easy flaw. I remember how she complained about it yet insisted on writing the recipes in Hebrew, so I will be able to read them. In between, my handwriting, round and flawless, unlike her I drew a lot of satisfaction from the act of writing.

Passover flowerless cake, a family recipe my mother learned from her mother. Matzo dipped in chocolate, my favorite. Chicken soup with matzo balls, gefilte fish, brisket, compote, the list seems endless and with each recipe an image of the Seder table and the voices of people who are no longer alive mix with the loved flavors.

I look at the recipes and sigh. Like my daughters when they ask for a favorite recipe, I remember how I tried to follow the detailed instructions of the dishes just to fall short, time and time again.  All my efforts did not produce the exact texture, or smell, or taste. I know that it will not happen this time around either, but that I will give it my best try.

Cooking for Passover

 

question-mark-2492009_960_720

2017 Year-end reflection questions:
  1. The most important goal that I achieved this year was:
  2. My biggest fitness accomplishment was:
  3. My biggest career accomplishment was:
  4. My biggest relationship accomplishment was:
  5. These are the skills I acquired this year:
  6. A big mistake that I made this year—and the lesson that I learned as a result—was:
  7. An obstacle or a challenge that I overcame this year:
  8. This year, I learned the following about myself:
  9. Here’s something I learned about other people:
  10. This made me laugh the hardest this year:
  11. The most fun I had all year was:
  12. My best memory of the year was:
  13. My biggest regret of the year was:
  14. My biggest disappointment of the year was:
  15. The books I read this year were:
  16. My favorite movie of the year was:
  17. A TV show I really enjoyed watching this year was:
  18. I really enjoyed this live performance (concert, play, musical, or dance performance):
  19. Here’s a song I listened to over and over again this year:
  20. This is something I wish I hadn’t bought this year:
  21. This is the best thing I bought all year:
  22. Someone I really enjoyed spending time with this year was:
  23. I adopted this new positive habit:
  24. I dropped this negative habit:
  25. One time I stood up for myself this year was:
  26. The scariest thing I went through this year was:
  27. A really cool thing I created this year was:
  28. My most common mental state this year was:
  29. Here’s how I grew emotionally this year:
  30. Here’s how I grew spiritually this year:
  31. The best gift I received this year was:
  32. The nicest thing someone did for me this year was:
  33. The nicest thing I did for someone else this year was:
  34. I showed real gumption this year when I:
  35. If I could change one thing about this year it would be:
  36. A new food/dish I tried this year was:
  37. This year my physical health was:
  38. Here’s a new friend I made this year:
  39. This year I traveled to:
  40. Here’s one adventure I had this year:
  41. One contribution I made to my community was:
  42. This year I spent a lot of time here:
  43. This year I broke out of my comfort zone by:
  44. A hobby I loved spending time on this year was:
  45. This year I practiced self-care by:
  46. My biggest time waster this year was:
  47. Here’s a great time-saving hack I learned this year:
  48. What I am most grateful for this year is:
  49. Here are three words that would sum up this year:
  50. If I could travel back to the beginning of the year, here’s some advice I would give myself:

Questions light the way

Journeys without a purpose

finding-your-life-purpose-journey-universe

 

https://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/finding-your-life-purpose/

Some stories begin with sparks and fireworks,

Others with the dull light of dawn.

Shadows fleeting between the trees,

Birds chirping quietly in the twigs,

As the world yawning, extending its arms.

 

Softly as butterflies hardly making a mark,

We can slip through life shaping our bodies to match.

While we watch, others sculpting their form,

Forceful and coarse like sandpaper on glass,

Leaving their inscriptions for others to surpass.

 

Some journeys come to an end before they even began;

 Others last for eternity and never collapse.

Who’s to say which kind exceeds the other?

A journey to the end of the land,

Or merely a mile up the road.

 

 

 

 

 

Journeys without a purpose

The woman in my head

*the_voices_in_my_head_by_naomi89-d65hmd4

* picture taken from google images

https://naomi89.deviantart.com/art/The-voices-in-my-head-372017272

 

There is a woman, who lives in my head,
I hardly ever see her,
But her voice, vexing and grating,
Is rumbling in the hollows of my brains

She does not stop talking,
From morning till night,
The only way I can quiet her rattling
Is close my eyes, and take a nap.

She wants to know, why –
She interrogate me on, how –
She likes to discuss, when –
But she really get stuck on what if.

She insists that it is for my own good,
But we both know this is a lie.
She keeps bringing up” the truth,”
As if she was there at the time.

Her capricious moods keep me alert,
I cannot ever lay off my guard,
On the lookout day and night,
For her next ingenious camouflage

This woman who lives in my head,
The other day, I caught her glimpse,
In the bathroom mirror’s bright lights
She looked unerringly like me.

The Woman in my Head

Mitat Neshika (death by a kiss)

fishing the sun

“So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. “Deuteronomy 34:5

My mother was seventy-four when she died in her sleep, on a Friday night. She checked into the hospital that same morning for what was described as a routine check-up. The reason for her death is unknown. I knew that she was not healthy, and in the last two years of her life, she was irritated and disoriented. Still, her death was unexpected. My father refused to authorize an autopsy to clarify the reason for her death. He told us that in Judaism death while asleep and on a Friday night, is a privilege kept only for the righteous. People like Moses and his brother Aaron are but two examples. It is called Mitat Neshika, “death by a kiss.”

It was a strained relationship between my mother and me. I felt that I disappointed her. Not good looking as my younger brother, not as successful. She always tried, without success, to understand my life choices; why I married a man she did not think was ‘good enough,’ my career and the ways my husband and I educated our four daughters.

She ended every conversation, and those were many, with the same words; “I do not understand,”

“I do not understand why you married this man;” she said to me a week after the wedding and repeatedly in the coming years. The fact that we had a stable marriage did not stop her from restating the question, year after year.

“I do not understand what it is that you’re doing,” was about my professional choice (a school counselor and learning disabilities consultant). She had no problem with my brother’s profession (an interior designer) even though both her and my father were educators.

“I don’t understand why the kids never eat,” was another favorite one. My daughters did not like her cooking so routinely declared a hunger strike on our visits.

Sixteen years had passed since that Saturday morning when my father called to tell me about her death. He gave me the news and informed me that the funeral would be held on Sunday, as according to the Jewish tradition a funeral must take place no longer than twenty-four hours after the death. My husband and I ‘packed’ the kids and rushed up to Jerusalem from our home in Arad two hours to the south.

There will be no autopsy to clarify the reason of death; my brother told me when we got to my parents’ home. The funeral took place, as planned, early Sunday; we went back to my parents’ home for a light lunch, we stayed for the week as tradition dictates, then we returned to our life.

The unanswered question about my mother’s death was not discussed in the coming years. Once, shortly after her death, when I asked my father for some of her jewelry, for my daughters and I and it turned out that every piece she ever owned mysteriously disappeared, I tried to talk to him about her unforeseen death, but he was adamant in his refusal to discuss the whereabouts of her jewelry, as he was about his decision to decline an autopsy.

Two years after my mother passed away my husband and I left our home in the south part of Israel and moved to the US. Then my father died, and with his death, I had to give up on the hope that I will ever get an answer.

A few weeks ago, I raised the question of her unexpected death once again, this time I asked my brother, the favorite ‘chosen’ golden boy. At sixty-three, his seamless façade cracked a bit, and he admitted to feeling tired of his work and life in general. For the first time, he confided in me and confessed that, like me, he does not know the circumstances of our mother’s death.

“It always troubled me, “he wrote in a rare e-mail that contained several full sentences, unlike his usual telegram like correspondence.

“I can’t get the thoughts of my mind,” he wrote,

“I think of her dying alone, on a Friday night with no family by her side,”

When I read his email, I remembered the legend my father told us of Moses who was not allowed into the Promised Land. How he climbed, alone, up Mt. Nebo to see the land from above, and God took his life with a kiss.

Mitat Neshika, “death by a kiss,” is a privilege kept only for those who are righteous; I concluded my email to my brother.

While writing, I remembered something from the day of the funeral that I did not think about for many years. After the funeral, in my parents’ home, surrounded by relatives and friends, I felt restless, pressed to do something to relieve the pain.

I walked out of the house, took the long bus ride back to the cemetery on the other side of town and walked up to her grave. There was the bare ground; the gravestone will be put in place and unveiled thirty days later.  I stood there and looked at the patch of earth mixed with stones; I looked at the view of the city stretched all the way to the hazy mountains of on the Jordanian side, I thought I could detect Mt Nebo in the distance.

In few months, as I do every year since we left to the US, I will ‘visit’ her grave. It is on a mountain- side overlooking the entrance to Jerusalem. At times it feels like the family visits we had in the past; my father’s grave is next to hers and my grandmother’s few rows away. The town is spread below, bigger and noisier with each passing year. White apartment buildings climb the hills around, new roads stretch all the way to the pink, hazy horizon but in the cemetery, time stands still.

I will drive up the steep hills into the city that used to be my home. When I will reach the last curve on the road, I will turn and park at the bottom of the hill then walk up to her grave. I will pick few stones and put them on the grave, then I will update her on my life in the year that just ended.

Still married to the same man,

Kids are all grown up

Not an educator anymore.

Always when I get to the last part, my current profession, I hesitate for a minute. I know what she would say if she was still alive;

“I don’t understand, why you went to school and got a master degree, so you can become an innkeeper,”

When I think of it, it makes me smile.

Mitat Neshika (death by a kiss)