When you’re driving in winter, you notice that there are some people out on the roads who take the law very seriously. They know exactly which roads are limited to 60km per hour, and which you can drive at 90km an hour… and which you can go 120 or 130, depending. That is, legally you can only go 120 km per hour, but they don’t give you a ticket unless you’re driving faster than 130. these folks seem to be intent on taking advantage of what is allowed. Of course, in a small country like ours, you often encounter so much traffic that you’re moving at only half the posted speed limit. So it’s nice in winter, when a lot of people stay inside, watching TV or huddled close to the computer, and the roads are less congested. They don’t seem to be intimidated by rain, hail or snow. We had hail yesterday. If you don’t look at it closely, it looks a lot like snow. But it’s even more slippery. Especially, if you impatiently try to pass the car in front of you on a curve. After the accident, that’s the sort of situation which is described on the radio as ‘the driver lost control of his vehicle’.
Well, you know… I used to make the same mistake. Not in the car. I’ve always been a fairly careful driver, being aware of what the impact of fast moving metal can do. But when I was working full time, I never seemed to have the time to do all the things I’d put on my calendar. There were clients who were waiting for their work, and students who demanded my attention. There was always some project that was running a little late. And I often lost track of time, in the intensity of work. I remember, sometimes, seeing something out of the corner of my eye, and thinking, I wish I had a little more time to study that… but I was too busy.
Now that I’m semi-retired, I am much more aware of the weather. There are still emergencies… that demand our full attention. That’s what life is really like, isn’t it. A lot of unexpected incidents and events, where we have very little control. But there are also the seasons of the year, reflected by the trees and the plants as well as the general temperature, and the dark skies above, or a hot sun scorching the landscape. I used to think of winter weather as something of a nuisance. But I’ve really learned to appreciate it. I’m still not sure how the cats know it’s coming, but they start growing a winter coat before the cold and rain really hits. And as we approach spring, that coat thins out, and they seem to lose a bit of weight, as they prepare for the coming summer. And now I too, find that my pace changes with the seasons. Instead of being bothered by inclement weather, I usually enjoy it.
Lately, I’ve gone back to converting my old tapes and records to digital files, which can be played on the computer and the MP3 player. And after not listening to some of this music for some 20 years, it’s so delightful to rediscover and enjoy it. And how nice it is, looking out the window from the safe shelter of my stone house, and watching the storm as it pounds the earth. We’ve been troubled by drought and near-drought weather for some years now. We would follow the news of the rising and descending water line in the Sea of Galilee, worrying when the water level dropped below the red line, and sometimes counting the centimeters left us, till we’d reach the black line. And now, how joyous it is to hear that we’re approaching the moment when we’ll open the dam to let the water descend to the Dead Sea. How amazing it is to have been on the edge of despair, and then watch the heavens open, and the water come pouring down.
So these are slow and easy days. Of course, this is also the season of colds and flu. There’s a lot to complain about, if we’re looking for that. But pardon me, if I concentrate on the power of nature, and drink a cup of cappuccino, as I watch the weather for a while. And between the rains, I take my walk with Nechama. No matter how warmly I dress, I can feel the sting of the cold on the skin of my face. But if I keep up a good pace, the cold doesn’t defeat me.
And by the way… since we’re moving at a slow, enjoyable pace… let me tell you something about the cappuccino. We drink it here in Israel, making it with espresso coffee mixed with thick cream and sugar, and a little chocolate or cocoa. It originally got its name because its color resembled the color of the frocks of Capucin friars, who kept up the traditions of strict Catholicism in the face of Christian reformism in the 16th century. And they got their name because of the pointed hoods they used to wear as part of their uniform dress. Have a beautiful weekend, my friends.