autumn thoughts


It’s fall, and there is this mix of elements; some of them man made, and some straight from nature, that lend their strength to the appreciation of the season’s change. Here in Israel, we have started a new year, and initiated it with the holiday season which has occupied us for about a month. The clock has been set back to winter time, which causes a dispute every year. There are some who look at nearby European countries, and think it would be more enjoyable to continue summer time for another month and a half, at least. Not me, I like waking up to a bit of light. When it’s still dark, I have no desire to get out of bed. But aside from that, we’ve had our first taste of rain. So we are definitely moving into autumn. And with the autumn season, there is always the squill (pictured above), which grows wild in our country, and appears like a flag, all around, in the cities and the country, at just this time, to emphasize the season.

on my way to my mother’s home

And getting back to the normal life is quite a pleasure after the continuous holidays of the last month. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the holidays. No, on the contrary, I had a very good time. It was a lot of fun to visit with families and friends, and drive around the country, and eat great food… I won’t even try to make a list of all the wonderful things I enjoyed in recent weeks. And when I say it was good to get back to normal, I think my readers realize that I enjoy my life very much, and what is normal for me, is mostly my choice. So it goes without saying, that getting back to normal is good.

there is a park where the old train used to run; the tracks have become a walkway

But there was something else… The holiday season disconnected us for a while from the routine. And that is a very liberating experience. There are so many things we take for granted. So many parts of our lives that become automatic. We live a day, and work or play till we’re tired… and then go to bed and sleep… And often, when we start the new day, we just keep on going where we were the day before. Or check our calendar to remember different commitments for the new day. And one day stretches into the next, and we find ourselves so committed to any number of things, that true free choice is almost lost… and sometimes, the appreciation of what’s around us is lost too.

one of the many little corners that are kept as rest spots along the way

This is one of the great features of the Sabbath, that comes every week. For those who observe that special day… it’s a break in the routine, and allows us to rediscover our perspective, and to appreciate our being alive. And this holiday season did much of the same thing on an annual basis. After the disconnect, and the time spent visiting and playing and having fun, I return to real life with a new appreciation. And often I am tempted to start a new project, or to change a few things in my life… maybe, like the famous ‘new year’s resolutions’ that I hear about at the start of the secular new year on the first of January.

a neighborhood cat recognizes me as I walk past. He’s sitting on a garbage bin.

Today, I was looking for some photos that I took, on my way to my mother’s home, thinking to use them to illustrate the getting back to normal… and it took me quite a while to find those pictures. And in the process, I realized that it has been a while since I last updated my photography catalogue. Which reminded me of all the paper work I left on my desk for ‘till after the holidays’. And here it is, after the holidays. Which means taking care of chores too, and putting my life in order. But even chores are easier now that I have stretched my legs, and cleared my head. It’s goodbye to the old, and the beginning of a new chapter. How wonderful.

the bulletin boards in the city let us know what’s happening


77 responses to “autumn thoughts

  1. Shabbat Shalom!

  2. I do like squill, a lovely plant that I haven’t seen before…..and that cat is gorgeous!
    I always find a break from routine does me the world of good, it’s nice to see things through fresh eyes.
    It was really weird but when I looked at that second picture I got a really strong sense of having been there, and….I got an impression of basements under the houses and a copse of trees further up the road with a winding path running through them…I must be going crackers lol.xxxxx

    • I’ve encountered many reactions, by visitors to Jerusalem… and it’s not rare that people find it very familiar. It has figured in so many descriptions… and sometimes in movies and TV reports… who knows… There is also a lot of differences from one neighborhood to another, and sometimes they are reminiscent of a certain time period seen in other countries too. No, Dina, I doubt that you’re ‘going crackers’. But I do think that if you would ever visit here, you would enjoy the way the cats coexist with us. As for the squill, I’ve heard it exists in other places, but never saw it in my travels abroad.

  3. I hadn’t heard of squill ’til today. A very interesting plant. What struck a chord with me today Shimon is the amount that piles up over a holiday period that we put off until the holiday is over. It it’s not too out of control it can be a pleasure getting things back in order but if it’s become a bit of an animal, then a sinking feeling sets in and the wish that despite the holidays, you might have taken care of a few of the routine chores. Nice post.

    • You’re absolutely right, Chillbrook. Nowadays, I’m semi-retired, so I take things as they come. But there were times in the past when I would get near hysterical at the onslaught of work waiting for me when we went back to normal. Still, there is that advantage of seeing it all in a new perspective, Thanks for the comment.

  4. I know exactly what you mean. The end of summer marks the start of the school year, busier times at work and the holidays. While enjoyable I find it so hectic that I’m usually exhausted just thinking of everything I have to do. It’s nice to get back to “normal.” Love seeing Israel through your eyes.

    • Glad that you like these views of Israel, Edith. I too, taught for many years (college), and so was very tuned in to the academic year. But I also had a business… and it was much harder for me, at least, to return to the business after a long break. But still worth the pleasure of having the holiday.

  5. Shimon, I enjoyed your pictorial walk through the streets of your home. Here we are beginning our winter and your winter looks somewhat different. That was nice to experience.

    Take care,


    • Thank you Ivon. We’re just at the beginning of autumn here, and it will probably be another couple of months till we feel the winter. We do have snow and rain and hail in winter… but sometimes clear skies and even sun. But what is most characteristic of that season is the cold, which I find hard to take sometimes. Still, Jerusalem has a pleasant climate.

  6. Thank you for this peaceful reflection on the blessings of a schedule and the gift of dropping it for a time, so we may return with new ways of seeing and listening and being. Renewed and inspired, as an honored Sabbath allows. Just lovely, Shimon; and I, too, am enchanted by the squill. We have a bulb, called “Siberian Squill” (Scilla) that grows into a dainty little sprig of blue flowers and blooms in spring, but your squill is majestic. What a dramatic-looking bloom!

    Peace to your homecoming, ordering, and new chapter!

    • How nice to hear that you have a squill too. It must be a slightly different relative of this plant, because our flowers are all of this color… and they are completely natural, growing wild all over the country, for just a short season. But I haven’t seen them anywhere else, and I enjoy the thought of them growing elsewhere. I do hope, Catherine, that you will take a picture of one in the spring. I would love that. Thank you very much for your comment.

  7. Very nice Shimon. Our fall is coming on big time and I’ll miss the flowers of summer. Trying to keep my mind to the grindstone is a bit similar to your getting back to normal. I’m not even sure I have a “normal” anymore. Yes it Is Wonderful to see thru your eyes.

    • I think it’s hard to appreciate ‘normal’ without having an exit from time to time, from what is normal for us. This seems all the more important to me, after retirement. My wish to you, my friend, is continued learning… for that is the finest exercise for the mind, and something I know you’ve always been good at. Thank you, Bob, for your comment.

  8. Shimon – I find that it’s always stressful after a holiday, meaning that it’s time to catch up on all the work I put off. But I certainly don’t stress about the work piling up while I’m away.

    Autumn is in full swing here. The trees in the valley are changing faster than the ones in the hills, which is odd. But beautiful. It’s my favorite season, no matter where I am in the world.

    • Ah, Bill. I know you have a more positive attitude than mine, when it comes to the cold, so it doesn’t really surprise me that this is your favorite season… though I am a bit intimidated by the approaching winter. And as I remember, it is more dramatic in Europe than it is here. But certainly, there is beauty to be found in every season. I do look forward to your pictures.

  9. I love the tone of renewal that runs through this post, Shimon! Many years ago in this country it was also true that one day a week was set aside from work, a time for worship, rest, family, and relaxation. I think the break from the routine and all this working was very healthy for heart and soul, and I wish it were possible to return to that. Otherwise life seems to be an endless stream of busyness and toil, and we don’t spend enough time enoughing what is around us and how are lives are blessed. Some weeks the only time I spend outside is traveling to and from work and shopping, I need more fresh air and natural beauty in my life!

    • Yes, Josie… the modern life is very intensive. We have so many ‘time saving’ utensils around us, and yet we seem to be always busy with something. And so, there is a great need to a take a break regularly. I think that’s true for a lot of people. And when these breaks are not part of social conventions, I suppose it take more self-discipline to really maintain that sort of schedule. But it’s worth it. Maybe it would be a good thing to take an evening walk with the bear, once a week. That could be a lot of fun.

  10. That’s a lovely post 🙂 I too would like to stretch my legs…but I must wait a bit.

  11. We do not have resting spots and as I am getting older I find that one needs to take a break sometimes.

  12. Very nice. You are so right in that sometimes taking a break from the normal helps us to appreciate the daily life that much more.

    • Thank you very much, shoes. It’s really part of a balance that allows us to truly enjoy our lives. And I do my best to try and maintain that balance in all areas.

  13. Thought-provoking, Shimon…thank you. Your squill looks very much like our green gentian or monument plant…similar in form and flower…and we remain touching, while worlds apart….

    • Thank you Scott. I am unfamiliar with the green gentian. But I will have to look that up, and find out what it is called in Hebrew. It is a pleasure to find common experiences and nature in far away places…

      • You’re welcome…and yes, it is a pleasure finding common experiences and bits of nature with folks on the other side of the globe…one of the marvels of our changing world….

  14. There’s such a sense of tranquility in your work Shimon. Always a joy. Regards.

  15. Dear Shimon, I am reminded of this beautiful verse reading your post.
    “To everything there is a season,
    a time for every purpose under the sun.
    A time to be born and a time to die;
    a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    a time to kill and a time to heal …
    a time to weep and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn and a time to dance …
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to lose and a time to seek;
    a time to rend and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
    a time to love and a time to hate;
    a time for war and a time for peace.”
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
    How very wonderful indeed to see you enjoying the fruits of each season of your life. As always I cherish where you have walked and rested through your lens. Sharon

    • How very interesting and appropriate that you were reminded of these lines from Ecclesiastes this time. For this is the scroll we read on the last Sabbath of Sukkoth, the holiday that we have just experienced. It is a poem that I especially love, and it teaches us to accept life within a balance of all things. I didn’t mention it in my description of the holiday, and I am grateful to you for bringing it up in our discussion. Thank you very much, Sharon.

  16. Here’s me catching up with friends’ posts just having been away from daily routine for seven days. It does not take long to feel swamped. however, I think, like you, that change of routine has re-energised me, so, the swamping has become manageable. How long for is the question.

    The Squill is magnificent. I spent sometime gazing at the picture. The car moving out to visit mum puzzled me a little. Did someone take the picture for you, or did you hop out of the vehicle to take a quick photo?

    Your winter time changes are much earlier than ours. I don’t like it much as we have dark mornings till 09.45 or thereabouts, as we head into the main Winter months. Dawn is overcast and very late. The only benefit of frosty mornings and snow (brrr…not desiring them I assure you) is the brightness that they bring with them for two or three hours.

    • You and me both, menhir. It’s a little nerve wracking to try and catch up. But I do feel a new spirit with me, and am enjoying getting back into the swing of things. That car in the picture had nothing to do with me. I had already parked my car, and was on foot when I took the picture. I know, we stop summer time, at the end of summer… and many of our citizens would prefer to keep it going till winter. But I do like seeing light in the morning. I like the look of snow… but suffer in the cold. Thank you so much for your comment, and I wish you a beautiful autumn.

  17. I love that cat.I would like to have it here…Yes, here it’s the beginning of the academic year.Though that is not important to me now.
    I like all the seats and little resting places en route to the center as I often need those and sometimes one can have am intriguing conversation with A.N.Other there.The squills seem bigger this year..lovely.Hope you have a nice “normal” week ahead of you.

  18. Tis fall here too and it’s welcome if it comes with moisture…..I dislike the time change but ours isn’t until the first Saturday in November.

    • Hi, Linda. Glad you mentioned that it was fall for you too. For some reason, I had the impression that you lived in the southern hemisphere. Wishing you a beautiful autumn, and hope you’ll enjoy watching the sun come up earlier after you change your clocks back.

  19. how tall is the squill? looks terrific.

    • Glad you liked the squill, Rich. It usually stands a little over a meter in height; sometimes reaching 130 cm.

      • on my side of the world, everything is business, technology, and commerce driven. it’s a world of speed up or get out of the way so you don’t get run over. on your side, people – at least some people – haven’t forgotten their history, what got them here, the family around them, and the ground beneath their feet.

        i’m not very proud of my side, although it seems to affect all sides. for example, in one post you mentioned the debate between obama and romney. it amazes me that the whole world might pay attention or even be affected by who is president over on this side. i’m not sure if that’s good for you to be affected. i’m not sure if that means we here are over-extending our reach or if you on your side are just very in tune to others. or maybe something completely different.

        • I would say that there are quite a few differences between the life styles and social organization of your country and mine. But it is also true that in the last decade especially, the world has grown smaller and there is a lot more influence of one country on another, and of the global economy on all of us. I can understand you, when you say you’re not very proud of your side… but I think that is because we are always most critical of what is closest to us. I think that if you were to look at your country from the outside, and to compare it with a lot of places in this world, you would have good reason to feel very good about being an American. It also seems to me that because you’re so involved in local issues, you don’t realize how important America is to the economies and the life styles of other countries. Many people in Europe and in our country are very interested in what lies ahead for the US. The bank scam that hit wall street hard, and caused a deflation in the US was also very critical for Europe. It has caused a lot of damage there. Supporting Fanny May and Freddy Mac (sp) by printing dollars has caused great damage to the value of the dollar. If you visited Europe now, you would find that the buying power of the dollar has gone down quite a bit. But that is only one symptom of the general decline of the US in recent years. There are more people out of work, and people who have lost part of their pensions. Even countries that are very critical of the US don’t want America to fall on its face. It would be bad for everyone. There are many other issues as well, but I think this is the reason that so many people outside of your country are watching the elections, and the policies of your country.

  20. I like the idea of holidays as a way of shaking us out of routine!

    • Yes, I agree with you, Jordan. Routines have a way of making us insensitive to life and our surroundings. It is so good to have a break… even if we’re enjoying ourselves.

  21. The squill is lovely. It too has its times of rest and busy-ness. We can learn a lot from the rhythms of nature. Thank you for this post and the reminder to make the most of the times we step out of our routines.

  22. interesting thoughts on new beginnings and old routines. by the way, those squills look like fascinating plants.

    • The squill is a very special flower, because it always comes exactly at the beginning of autumn. You can see it all over, in the cities and in the country… and then after a short while it disappears for another year.

  23. I appreciate how these words tie together …. renewal, routine, return, Sabbath … which is something that should fit any season! 🙂 The squill is new to me, yet intrigues me.

    • I’ve often thought of how dangerous routine really is. It takes something from the joy of living… and it is a problem that almost all of us have in common. Thank you for your comment, Frank.

  24. A good post, Shimon. It’s funny how we long for our holidays, and then when they are over, it is so good to get back to our normal routine. There is something comforting in that.
    The squill are very pretty.

    • Unfortunately, not everyone really works at things he likes. I am very grateful that my ‘routine’ has usually been doing the things I like most in life. But without a break now and then, that too can become oppressive. So then, after a nice break, back to normal is a pleasure. Thank you, Angeline.

  25. I love the photos you post 🙂 I appreciate those glimpses into a place unfamiliar to me. Thankyou for sharing them. 🙂

    • Very glad you enjoy them, and a pleasure getting to know you, SighYuki. Yes, the internet has opened up new avenues for us to get to know the world around us.

  26. 1 Did you read “The Sabbath”, by Heschel? One of the more profound books about the sacredness of “rest”.
    2 We were vacationing last week and we stayed at a beautiful place surrounded by the ocean and rocks and beauty abound. My husband said: I wish I could live like this all the time. I said: I appreciate not living like that all the time, because I never want to lose the thrill of seeing it, and never want to take it for granted.

    So going away and returning is important. Gets me the perspecitve I need to remember, especially when it’s so easy to forget…

    • I haven’t read that much of Heschel, but I did read a bit. It is very interesting, this conversation that you mention between yourself and your husband. There are a number of Chassidic stories about the same question. And I agree with you… we would lose something if every day was Shabbat. I was struck by something I read by Margaret Mead many years ago, that also related to the same subject. She said, “Happy peoples have no written history.” Thank you very much for your comment.

  27. enjoyed the post and these photos

  28. I love the quote: “what is normal for me, is mostly my choice. So it goes without saying, that getting back to normal is good”. I think it’s a great outlook on life – it’s easy to feel down and almost sad after the holidays are over, so it’s important to remember that we have control over our life and if we dread normality we should do our best to change it for the better xx

    • Yes Jen, I completely agree with you. I think it’s very important that we find an occupation that we can identify with, and people that we can truly relate to in our lives. When one’s life is really rewarding, one can enjoy a vacation very much… but it shouldn’t be an escape from real life. Thank you for your comment.

  29. How wonderful indeed Shimon ! We need those spaces and gaps to realise what we have. Having just returned from a week away I also have the paperwork to attend to and any number of chores, but what has been good has been the stepping away and coming back to the normal. Lovely reflections on life, thank you!

    • A strange thing happened to me this time, Claire. I had just come back from a long holiday, and found out that a very close friend of mine was ill, and was scheduled for an operation… so I have been away for another two weeks. It’s been a little hard to keep up with things in blogland, but now I hope I will get back in the swing again. Thank you very much for your comment.

  30. You gave me pause to think, so that’s good.

  31. Dear Shimon, I love to walk through your photographs in my mind with you too 🙂 You are amazing. You can guess what I loved so much 🙂 Yesssss The cat! Wonderful pose you captured. Thank you dear Shimon, in here we live autumn days but like a summer days… Soon the cold days will be heere again. I wish you to have a nice autumn and winter days. Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Nia. I’ve had so much going on in my life recently, that I found it hard to keep up with comments, and to visit the blogs I like reading. Now, I’ve finally come home again, and it’s good to find your comment. I actually thought of you, as I watched a cat peer in through a screen door, in a home where I was visiting… Thank you for your blessing and my best to you too.

  32. I enjoyed reading of your rejuvenation and renewal after your holiday season. Autumn always brings a sense of fresh start to me. Perhaps it is related to my younger years and the connection to the beginning of a new school year.

    • Yes, I can imagine that the start of the new school year would make a big impression on the life of a young person. In our culture, it is actually the start of the new year… so I never thought otherwise. Though there was always that longing for spring. So glad you enjoyed the post, winsomebella… always good to hear from you.

  33. It appears that comments on the post, “Free Thinker”, have been closed. I really didn’t have much to add there anyway. When I was a senior in high school, my English/French teacher told me that life would be difficult for me because I was always on the outside looking in. She encouraged me to keep the faith, however, because life would be far richer for it. She was right, and her words were a source of validation and comfort to me during the youthful “searching” years of my life.

    • Yes George, I closed comments on that post when I started getting some political comments that seemed inappropriate. You were lucky to have a teacher who related to your being ‘different’. I am happy that you found consolation in her words. I was different too, and quite lonely in my youth. Afterwards, there was a period when I got drunk with acceptance and popularity… but eventually I had to come to terms with whom I was within. It’s a subject worthy of a lot of study. Thank you very much for your comment.

  34. Dear Shimon, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the holiday season. We are just coming into ours, and I will think of them a little differently now. I love the photo you included of the the neighborhood cat!

    • Thank you very much, Naomi. It is amazing, studying the different personalities of the many cats we have around here… every one different, but all have that unique curiosity, and the pride that marks the cat family. Always good to hear from you.

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