Night Train In Time

Think back… a little over forty years ago… for those who weren’t born yet, it’s like forever and a day… and for me… well, it’s like yesterday. I was sitting in this same house, at a table made of wood, made by a friend of mine. And writing on a sturdy typewriter with quick hammer blows that made percussion music in the night… or maybe… because of the music, I preferred to write with a fountain pen on white ‘bond’ paper in the night… in the middle of the garden of eden… and listening to Night Train by Oscar Peterson, that Dov had very recently bought in a store in Haifa. This night, I’m writing on a miniature laptop. The keys are silent. We loved Jazz in those days… and I still do… and a new record from America or France, was a reason for celebration in those days. Bottles of brandy, and of wine… would come out of hiding, after all the chores were done… and the children were put to sleep… the evening grew into night… The women joined us in the reverie around the music and sometimes we would listen to a new record over and over again, in the dimly lit room… till we knew each note that was coming, like the sound of an old friend knocking at the door.


The illness of an old friend brought me back to the old cabin this week… still in paradise, as far as I’m concerned… and this night I woke up to the sound of rain pounding the roof of the cabin… and turned in my bed, and found that same record on my little portable MP3 device, with the foldable carry-where-you-wish loudspeakers… and listened to Oscar Peterson play Night Train with Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums… and for an hour or more I was back then… and now, at the same time. oh the miracle of then and now… and all the human experience that fits into the sandwich, as I lie in a warm bed on a cold night… in a familiar place that belongs to the past… listening to music that brings it all together.

in those days we believed in ‘giving according to our ability, and taking according to our needs’

The music still sounds very fresh… unlike a lot of other music that has stayed with me from those days… because Dov wanted to share it with me, and we recorded it onto a reel to reel tape, on my Sony stereo recorder. And some years later… when I was back to living in Jerusalem, I recorded it on to a tape cassette… an then, not long ago, it made still another transition, to MP3 files, as it found its way to the digital age. Still that same wonderful, sweet and bouncy, oh so familiar music… other vinyl records have been laid to rest over the years, noisy with deepened grooves from being played over and over again… more times than I could possibly count… but this record has been preserved through time as it was when I still had a black beard… and the strength to go as long as I cared to. And it looked like nothing could ever stop me.

those simple homes still stand today

And yesterday morning, on my way to the grocery, I was joined by Venus, a beautiful and very intelligent lady, whose company I always enjoyed, back in those days… and we remembered walks we used to take… back in the old days, when she was a very young lady… so yesterday, I put my chores aside, and the two of us headed in the direction of the old creek, talking as we walked, about how much had changed… and how much hadn’t. I had my camera with me, and took a couple of pictures… though these pictures had been taken before… they are a returning refrain… with very subtle differences marking the passing of time over the years… I could easily find the older ones… especially of the pond… back when there was a lot of water there, and you could hear the croaking of the frogs before you reached the water. Now most of the water seems to have dried up. When I mentioned it to David, a few hours later… he said we’re at the end of summer, and sometimes it dries up after a long summer… nowadays it’s just a pleasant pond, and not the life saving water reservoir it used to be back in the old days…

the dark clouds spoke of rain

But as we were walking, we saw a dark cloud, moving in the heavens, in our direction. And she said, it looks like it might rain. And I said, oh, it’ll take a while till that cloud gets over here… and all of a sudden there were a few drops, and I put the camera in it’s case, and tucked it under my vest, worrying about its health. And then again, very suddenly, the light drops turned into an onslaught of driving rain… and we walked as fast as I could walk… I don’t run anymore… and found shelter at the clinic on the edge of the village. We weren’t dressed for rain. We stood under the roof of the balcony of the clinic. A young lady came by, with a little bottle in her hand and a prescription for something between her fingers. She recognized Venus, and said hi in a most friendly way… but didn’t know who I was… some old man who’d come to visit, it probably seemed. And after an exchange of a few words, she proceeded into the clinic…

just before it started pouring

and I remembered a few words I had had with Venus many years ago… in winter, it was. I was drinking black coffee then, and she was sipping tea, and we both stood by the window looking out at the pouring rain, and she suggested a walk. I had said no, it didn’t tempt me to go out in all that wet… and there would be mud under our feet… and she had said, but it’s so romantic to walk in the rain… This time, I was tempted to walk in the rain… but we weren’t dressed for it, and I was a bit worried about the camera…


72 responses to “Night Train In Time

  1. It is always so good, at times, to snuggle up in old, happy memories and there us nothing like music to take us for a tripmdown memory lane. It sounds like you had a lovely time with Venus, despite the rain.

    • Yes Jacquie, I’m having a very moving experience, visiting an old haunt, seeing old friends… that remind me of a very special time in my life… even though the purpose of the trip has been primarily to spend some time with a friend who’s ill. The rain was that added spice in a familiar dish.

  2. It was nice to go back in your memory Shimon 🙂 and I love the photos, seeing your world..

  3. It was so nice to visit and to read dear Shimon, I loved the photographs and your expressions of them. But the black cat photo is the best for me 🙂 Thank you, have a nice day, love, nia

    • I knew you would enjoy the cat, Nia. There are less cats here, than there are in Jerusalem, but this village too, is a cat friendly place. Always good to share with you.

  4. There is a mystery about these strange moments and experiences that somehow link the distant past and the present, the person we are now and the one we were then, the way life plays a refrain which contains the motif we recognise from the past, but with new variations. At such times we feel more whole.

    • You are so right, Gill. At times, we’d like to think that we’re the same person who’s revisiting some place we’ve been to… but we have changed, and the place has changed… and who knows if the memories haven’t changed… and yet, there is this tug at the heart. That’s a bit part of the mystery. Thank you so much for your comment.

  5. How delightful to meet someone you knew all those years ago…I am hoping you will have some photographs of flowers or is it too late now for the wild anemones?I love your description of those long ago evenings and nights and I feel the same way.. that it doesn’t seem long ago that I could climb mountains and jump off moving buses for fun… now I have to take care….yet it happens so gradually I can’t pinpoint the moments when I changed.
    I love to hear frogs sing…. heard it once in Spain.Our frogs don’t do it.
    I wonder if anyone sells the song on a CD.
    I like to hear of your past life….

    • Yes, there are quite a few people still here from the days when I was young and idealistic here… meetings that remind me of what was once. Not so many flowers now in fall… and because of the rain, I saw very few. Maybe the frogs here are waiting for more rain. When they’re around, I’m sure I’ll hear them. Thanks for your comment, Kathryn.

  6. I felt as if we were right there with you. So descriptive. Isn’t it funny the memories our mind focuses on. The clouds, and how the rain made you feel, its as if it were yesterday…

    • How sweet that you felt that connection to the days gone by, Elizabeth. Unlike Jerusalem, the houses here are lighter and more delicate… and one feels the rain much more. It’s a lot of fun.

  7. Interesting how our senses return us to the past … especially music!

  8. As I was reading this, I began to feel as though I was beginning to read a new book, and it promised to be a good one. This is lovely, yet left me feeling a little sad as well. I think it is always bitter sweet to think back as time flies by so quickly yet we don’t feel any older.

    I loved that pic of the black cat.. xxxxx

    • Ah, I think I could put a good book together based on my memories of this place… though I don’t know if I have the time left for such an adventure… Life is so intense these days, and I’m always aware of the time rushing by. And just between us, I do feel quite older… Very glad you enjoyed the post, Dina.

  9. I love the way the music, the company, and the weather link, like jazz riffs, the rhythms and melodies of life. Thank you, Shimon for this beautiful reflection.

    • Thank you Catherine. It all came together, especially because of the rain, I think. Very glad I was able to share the unique taste of this visit to an old haunt of mine.

  10. Such poetry in your memories, Shimon…and to be able to recall all of those things from a singular place. I know you have traveled, but how wonderful to be in the same place again at this time in life, when there is sweetness in riding that night train…how wonderful for you…how inspiring for me. Thank you….

    • Thank you very much, Scott. This place means a lot to me… and played a very important part in my development. I’m sure I’ll write about it one day. It was a home for the idealism of my youth. A pleasure to share with you.

  11. So beautifully written Shimon. It warms the heart to visit places that that have left a mark on us and are forever ingrained in our memories. Is this a kibbutz because I have such memories of a kibbutz that I volunteered at for 2 summers.

    • I see we have something common in our past, Edith… Now it’s just a village, like many others… having grown up, I guess, like I did… but in those days, it was a kibbutz, and it won my heart completely.

  12. A lovely post Shimon. A real pleasure to read your words and share your memory. I love the ability music has to put you instantly in a different place and time.

    • Yes, music has a very important place in our memories… defining certain periods, and reviving what has gone by. Thank you for your comment, Chillbrook. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  13. now do you wish you had that walk in the rain?

  14. Your words flow so nicely. Who is Dov and who is Venus? I too, love walking in the rain, and I too, no longer run. I’m just back from my youngest getting married in Tucson. Wish you could have been there, I think you’d have enjoyed the non-stop music!

    • When I was young, Bob, I didn’t appreciate the rain that much. I used to see it as something of a bother. Over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate it. Congratulations on the marriage of your offspring. I’m sure it was a great time for you. I do love music, but at marriages here, the music is often too loud for my delicate ears… The people mentioned, were an important part of my youth.

  15. so many visual indications of changes in surroundings, people and in emotional life. It is a commentary with a pictorial history and a pictorial present.

    I am sure your camera appreciated your chivalry. 😉

    • I was always very protective of my tools, menhir… maybe too much so. This trip I’m on these days, is a revisit to a place that once meant very much to me… but unfortunately, for me, is locked in the past… except for these days right now.

  16. I really enjoyed reading this post Shimon and having this chance to share in these precious memories with you. Too bad you don’t have a weather-proof case for your camera. It would have been so nice to go walking in the rain!

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Lemony. There are times when I think I would like a weather-proof camera… but they are so rare, that I’ve never actually taken the trouble to look into such a possibility. Thank you very much for your comment.

  17. This felt more like poetry than prose. I felt like you were describing my life when I was at the Hebrew U. and those long nights when one is introduced to new/foreign music, and the energy in the room seemed so deep and meaningful, and the walks in the rain or the walks we didn’t take are etched in our memory.
    This post brought back an enormous amount of memories and also made me wistful and nostalgic.

    • Thank you very much, Rachel. I imagine that though we come from slightly different backgrounds, we do have many memories in common… and I’m sure you know just what I’m talking about, when I mention the delight we had, in a new find from chutz la’aretz… I’m glad that this brought back memories for you too. They were good days.

      • Yes, but it was also more than that. For me it was a time (and maybe for you as well, I don’t know) where we thought that we can change the world. Whether my friends were communists, or followed Ayn Rand, we all had very strong opinions and the music would create the harmony with the subject matter. It was not only listening and feeling the music, but the music was also a statement. I think you said that you didn’t live in Jerusalem at that time, but I did, and all my walks in the rain (which I loved and still do), created the fabric of my past.

        • I understand what you’re saying. I was going through a similar adventure… checking our communism on a kibbutz. It was a very important period of my life. But in my case, the music wasn’t connected to that. I had studied classical music earlier, and had found jazz as an adult… and that was a new world, and I loved it. But it wasn’t so connected to my social ideas or experimentation. It was, though, part of the fabric of my life.

  18. A most beautiful piece, Shimon, rich with imagery of the past and tied to the future! As another old one, I savored every word and smiled at how life circles back and reconnects itself thru people, music,, and places. I love the way things were back then, and I love the way they are now too, with a much simpler way to expand our lives into friendships around the world. You ended this post on such a soft note, once could not help but smile, it was almost a poem. Perfect!

    • Your comment is very sweet, Josie. Thank you. I’ve always treasured the present more than the past or future… but this trip I’m taking, visiting a place that once meant so much for me, is bringing back some very fine memories of my younger days.

  19. Where I grew up the frogs croaked the nights away!! What a noise it was!! Wonderful memories of a bygone era

    • How wonderful that you’ve listened to frogs through the night, Lisa. I’ve only had the pleasure when visiting some very special places. But I do like them very much… especially because of their symbolic importance for me… in that they have two incarnations in this life.

  20. I love this piece. We carry the past with us. I especially like this: ” till we knew each note that was coming, like the sound of an old friend knocking at the door.”

    • You know how much I enjoy your writing, yearstricken. So it’s a special delight for me to hear that you enjoyed the post. Thank you so much for your comment.

  21. I don’t have anything useful to add, Shimon; really enjoyed reading this – your posts are nourishing, like a good meal.

    • Thank you very much, Richard. I feel like that sometimes, when other people have commented before I got to some post I like. But I do appreciate your comment. It is always a pleasure to hear from a friend.

  22. Good morning Dear Shimon. How lovely to return from Paris where I also experienced the miracle of ‘then and now’, to read this poignant and most beautiful post.
    Thank you my friend, and thank you for the beautiful images. x

    • Oh, Janet… we’ve had so many common experiences, it is very sweet to share another with you… thank you for your comment, which has brought me a big smile. Sharing with you, my friend, is always a pleasure. I look forward to reading more about Paris.

  23. For Proust it was a madeleine [pastry] that brought back the vividness of the past, and for you it’s music. I, also formerly black-bearded, could listen back 40 or so years, though it would be to folk and rock music rather than to jazz.

    The tone of your writing here reminds me of another aficionado of jazz, Jack Kerouac, in the last paragraphs of On the Road. Happy memories to you, and to us all.

    • Yes, it is good to revisit happy memories. I heard some folk music when I visited America about 50 years ago (as a student), but never really got interested or got to know ‘rock’. Thank you very much, Steve for the kind comparison with Kerouac. I did read his writing, and others of the ‘Beats’, and was very impressed by them. And thanks too, for coming by.

  24. Isn’t it remarkable how music takes us back, and to such specific moments, whatever the music may be it takes us there. A delight, as ever, to read your thoughts (memories) and to enjoy your photography.

    • Thank you very much, Claire. Yes, music plays a very important part in my life. And I imagine it’s the same for many people, even if we listen to very different types of music. So glad yu enjoyed the photos.

  25. i love that i have been living in a time when i was able to see the technology advancements from vinyl records, cassettes tapes, 8-tracks, cd’s, and now digital files. i’m sure past generations had their arc of moments and progressions, but i wonder what my kids will experience and what they’ll appreciate in the ways that we do.

    as for venus, i see her every morning in the eastern sky at about 6am. the only bright light left at about that time. in the western sky at night is jupiter at this time of year.

    • The Venus I was referring to, was a woman who left a lasting impression, but it is a great pleasure looking at the sky too. I agree with you, Rich. We are living and have lived in a very exciting time, having seen modern technology take a very central position in our lives… and open up wonderful possibilities for individual human beings and culture too. Thanks for your comment.

  26. What an interesting post, Shimon. I can almost smell the rain on the dirt of the road! Thank you for taking us on your walk with you.

    • Thank you, Naomi… the rain has left us for a while… but it reminded us of the season, and the air is cleaner now… and this adventure I’m on these days was unforeseen, but it’s opened up new avenues… and more than a few memories… and the pleasures of the Galilee.

  27. It sounds a magical time all wrapped in lovely memories and how curious that you and Venus aren’t destined to walk in the rain out of choice so far! Really appreciated this post – I feel all wrapped in nostalgia too and imagine how it must feel to be in your pictures and hearing the rain and smelling it too.
    Hope things are going ok with your friend who is unwell – am thinking of you…

    • David is about to have an operation… tomorrow is the day. And yes, there’s a whole wild mixture of emotions and thoughts that come with such an unasked-for adventure, but I’m discovering, that like life, there’s always good too, to be found amongst the hardship… and I keep learning every day… including some things I forgot I learned long ago. Thank you so much, Rosie, for giving me a little company on these hard days. I sense your presence.

  28. To cover so many years in a single day. What a pleasure to read.

  29. Shimon – what a wonderfully descriptive trip. I absolutely adore the street view of “just before it started pouring”.

  30. Fond memories but you should not have regrets. Get a pair of raincoats or umbrellas and the next time they forecast soft rain invite Venus over for that romantic walk in the rain 😉

    • Good advice GB. A lot of time has gone by since that first invitation… almost a lifetime. But you see, you never know what will come up, and how our lives take unexpected turns… thank you for coming by.

  31. It is a very different world and wasn’t born then..but enjoyed this post..

  32. the beauty of memories – I really enjoyed your words 🙂 There’s a powerful, simple, and wonderful message within them.

  33. The picture you painted…with words and photographs…has left me weeping. I have no idea if they are happy tears or sad ones…but, you have struck many chords with your speaking of music and of walks in the rain…of friendship and sharing tea and coffee. Moments…they are everything.

    • It moves me, Painter Lady, that you are able to connect to my writing in that way… yes, there are moments that come back when we step outside of our regular routine… and this trip I took, to visit a sick friend, brought back a lot of memories. Thank you so much for your comment.

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