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To everything there is a season

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;”

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

 

Always in September – when

Summer’s buoyancy yields to the

High-Holidays weighty deliberations.

The Days of Awe wrap around me a heavy cloak,

Till the day of final judgment seals.

Until next year, I repeat the refrain.

Until spring returns – inaudibly in my heart.

A time to be born, and a time to die,

And it all starts in September.

 

It always starts in September,

A sudden trace of coolness, in the air.

Crisp mornings grab on patchy fog

Vanishes into translucent blue.

And for a second, a red leaf

Shines through the green density.

And I know that with blazing reds and orange the summer will soon die.

Then the somber air of winter’s grays and whites will settle.

There is time to be born,

There is a time to die.

And on the way don’t we change our colors,

Just like the seasons do?

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The Purr of a Cat

“You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.”

Jane Pauley

 “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

Albert Schweitzer

 

The purr of a cat,

It can’t get any simpler than that.

When this bundle of softness

Radiates warmth all around,

And your body succumbs

To the rhythm.

 

And life slows down,

As you breathe in and out.

The slow beating of your heart,

The melody of the streaming blood.

The purr of a cat,

Do you need more than that?Sheleg

The Purr of a Cat

Bluer than robin’s eggs

“As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin’s eggs.” Joan Baez – Diamond and Rust.

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I watched them for almost three weeks, a couple of robins building their nest. They flew around the front yard for a while. Checked the grassy lawn for its offering of forage. Perhaps consulted with the hummingbirds who inhabited of the lawn for many years, and finally decided to construct the nest in the bush right next to the deck. The bush that I neglected to prune and is now hovering over drive.

Every morning with my first cup of coffee I would sit, and watch fascinated how they were flying back and forth each time with a new trophy; a blue thread, a twig, a dead leaf, stopping occasionally to chat, while resting on the arch that holds my Dutch Trumpet’s vine.

I was a bit worried about their choice of location, at the tip of the bush, on a rather low branch. Constructing the nest at the section of the bush that seemed fragile, unstable in the wind and easily seen from the front drive. But I calmed myself thinking that they have generations of instincts guiding them so who am I to judge. It was nice to be able to see, from my seat on the deck how the nest grows and forms with each day and becomes an elaborate creation to hug and protect the eggs and then the newborn birds.

But this morning, on the deck a blue egg, fractured is the first thing that caught my eyes. It laid half open on the floor with its insides oozing out. I knew right then and there that my worries were justified; this was not a good place, not a safe location at all. For a few minutes, I was consumed by sadness and anger.

I was surprised by my own reaction. Only a broken robin’s egg, I kept telling myself, not a big deal. Light blue, the kind of blue robin eggs are known for. Blue for happiness and rebirth, in this case, became the death of a hope.

I found myself mourning the loss of one blue robin egg, the death of a future bird. Perhaps in a world full of misery, and anger, it is the simple daily things that in the end get us.

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In our seasonal mom-and-pop motel, in Down East Maine, every season has its unique signs, and over the years we learned to sense the seasons, even before they officially began, by the many subtle signs that precede.

This year I missed all the cues. When the days got longer, and the grass greener and in the morning the first wild lily, along the ditch, opened her orange head, I should have known. It is July again.

When the first red leaves shined at me from behind the unified green coat on the old maple tree in the front yard, I should have known. Every summer about this time we look at these red leaves and ponder; is this a sign of fall coming earlier, or the tree is showing the first signs of decline?

When I mowed the grass, zooming from side to side on my green John Deere did I miss the changes in the wildflowers population, not dandelions with their silvery white heads but small yellow buttercups glistening with the morning dew and Hawk- weeds dotted here and there with a white head of a daisy or the red of a red clover.

The mornings heavy with the night’s moisture, the sun barely seen behind the dense fog, the cardinal on the bird feeder and an occasional turkey waddling in the backyard

All these signs went right by me until last night when the lady from room 19 walked into the lobby and said, half apologetically that she cannot change the channels on her TV and by the way there was an ant in the bathroom, but it is not a big deal, they get them at home all the time in July.

Then the man from room 21 joined to ask for help for his kid who locked himself in the bathroom.

The young lady, from room 18 couldn’t get the cold water to flaw in her shower.

“Only hot water,” she said, “cannot shower like that.”

Room 9 locked the door but then remembered that he left the key (and perhaps his wife) in the room, do we have a spare key? He did not forget to lock his car though because in the midst of all these the car’s alarm started howling.

And the nice man from room 2 while doing his laundry broke the nob of the dryer.

I took a deep breath, looked at my husband who was at that exact moment changing the pages on the calendar.

He pointed at the new page, that declared in bold letters –  July.

Summer season snuck on us for the first time in twelve years.

July has sprung

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.

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.

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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

 

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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