the pace of winter

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Nechama studies the winter scene

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’.

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and again from behind the window glass

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.

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walking in the neighborhood

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.

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don’t know which bird, but I like the way she looks

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.

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catching a bit of sun

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.

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sunlight coming through the blinds

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.

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60 responses to “the pace of winter

  1. “Slow and easy days…” ah yes…I love this comment. I am also semi-retired and watching the weather and the wildlife (inside and out) with a whole new perspective. Of particular pleasure are a pair of hummingbirds that feed daily outside my office window. Rain, snow, ice and hail – they flit about the pear tree, while I try to photograph them. Not easy photographing a hummingbird on a rainy, grey day in Seattle – but pure delight that I now have the time to savour such things that I missed for so many years! Enjoy your comments so very much. Best from Nancy Clendaniel (a friend of Vicky Baze!)

    • Thank you very much, Nancy, both for coming by, and for your comment. Yes, I have heard so much about you from Vicky, that I feel you’re a friend though I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting you. How wonderful that you’re able to enjoy visits from hummingbirds. Those are the great pleasures of life, enjoying nature at it’s own pace.

  2. How seems exciting for lovely nechama! Most cats enjoy with snow… I love cappucino…Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • Yes, Nia. Nechama enjoys both the snow and the cappuccino. She usually wants to try anything that I’m eating or drinking. Though she knows her limits. My best wishes to you for a very beautiful new week.

  3. What a wonderful post Shimon, you put into words what I cannot, but I feel exactly as you do.
    I love the changing seasons and the power of nature, and I always think winter is by far the most dramatic season with wild extremes. We have wild and windy weather at the moment, but the dogs don’t care and constantly whine for walks and runs in the garden.

    Your pics are beautiful, Nechama is a beauty, I still can’t get over the fact she walks with you….how lovely. Curly often follows me for a while but then turns back, probably when I leave her territory.

    You bird is brilliant, looks very cheeky. A pigeon, it has different feet from ours. xxxxx

    • I suppose I was mislead by the coloring, Dina. And that’s why I didn’t realize it was a pigeon, of which we have many. But I’ve gotten a few mails and all are sure, so I accept the ruling. Thank you so much for your comment. I love walking with Nechama, and it’s obvious that she enjoys it too. And she does seem to suffer the cold better than I do, but also likes watching it all through the window.

  4. I really enjoyed the pace of your post this week Shimon. A real pleasure to read and the photos a pleasure to view.

  5. My biggest black cat Hobo also accompanies me on my walks and thanks for teaching me something new today!

    • Always glad to share. And I do enjoy reading your posts. I love the way you tell a story. There’s only one criticism I have… and that’s that you remain nameless. Couldn’t you at least invent a pseudonym so that I could address you by name? With best wishes.

      • They call me Dallas, although I’m really a Debbie, because one of my classmates got hold of his Dad’s stash of adult movies and one of the them was the infamous “Debbie does Dallas” and I’ve been called that ever since!

        • Thank you very much, Dallas. It’s so much better addressing you by name… and of course, I enjoyed the story, as I do all the stories you tell. So glad you came by.

  6. Dear Shimon,
    Thank you for slowing me down to winter’s pace. I could almost hear your voice, slow and steady and relaxed, as I read. I loved the photos, and the fun facts, especially about the cappuccino.

  7. I too see winter as a chance to take things easy. I think we all need to slow down and save our energy for the busy times of spring and summer. What’s the rush, anyway?
    By the way, mu husband, who does a lot of bird watching, believes the bird you’re showing is a feral pigeon.

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Fatima. Unfortunately, I just found it in my spam folder. I have no idea how that happened. But I am glad to have found it, Thank you for your patience.

  8. Nechama seems to be observing a ski slope! I particularly like the variations of pattern and light created by your blinds.

    It’s good that water will refill the Galilee and The Dead Sea.

    • Yes, it is a great joy to see the Sea of Galilee filling up. And that ‘ski slope’ is right behind my home. What more could I ask? Glad that you enjoyed the post, and always good to hear from you. I’ve tried to comment on your blog a couple of times recently, but seemingly I give the impression of a computer robot to your blog platform. Hope you got the email going right since the new management.

      • I cannot understand why there is a problem with commenting on my blogger site, Shimon. Thanks for telling me. It is most odd. Others from this site get through and also from BCUK. I wonder if it is a settings thing. I have, as you probably saw, taken off the Captcha as it was, and is, a real pain to cope with. I have set my site not accept anonymous contacts, because I was getting a lot of spam. It has virtually stopped that from happening. I honestly do not know what to suggest.

        I have heard from you, therefore, that suggests some of your comments are arriving.

        Regards the email; it is an ongoing problem for me. Thanks for asking.

  9. Gentle Shimon…thank you….

  10. Life here in the US is very much like yours at this time of year. We had a light snow of a couple inches today with temperatures about 17 F. One of our favorite drinks at this time of year is a cup of hot chocolate topped with miniature marshmallows. We have to learn to enjoy every season of the year as each holds its beauty.

    • Well, I have to admit, Bev, that while I like a cappuccino now and then while watching the rain or snow fall, and would enjoy very much some cot chocolate topped with miniature marshmallows… what I like the best is bourbon whisky, and it warms the chest too. But whatever the sensual treats, it’s a great season to read and to contemplate, and as you say, every season has its own individual beauty. Thank you for your comment.

  11. Hail as snow…definitely. That is something within my experience. Three years ago, in March, Melbourne had the worst storm. I described it to an American friend who said it sounded like a tornado. Well, we have cyclones here and, yes, that is what it was. I was right in the middle of it in the city centre. Took many photos with my cellphone and especially once I got off the tram to home, which had made it through at least a foot of feet of water (can you imagine an electrified tram travelling in the water, I was really surprised it was still allowed to move), as there were great piles of hail everywhere, looking exactly like snow, as in your first photo! Not being a snow bunny, it was an exciting experience for me!

    For me, winter signifies a slowing down, a hibernating, just like Nature does. I read a lot, I browse the internet a lot, I burn incense, I clean out cupboards, all done at a slow pace. There is no need to hurry any more, and I enjoy that! Lovely post. Enjoy the rain!

    • We’re very fortunate, janina, in that we don’t know much about tornados or cyclones. Of course, we have other troubles… but when it comes to weather, ours is mostly mild. And even when people are forced out of their homes by a flood, it is usually because the sewer workers didn’t clean out the storm pipes after the previous winter. But like all people, we get used to a certain standard, and then when it comes down a little harder than usual, or when it’s too dry, we start wailing about our misery. Like yourself, I like to slow down with the winter season, and I burn incense too! The cupboards will have to wait till spring. Thank you for your comment, and good wishes. I’m certainly enjoying the rain.

  12. Learning to live in the moment is something we so often lose when we’re working – it isn’t always practical. Your winter reflections are a reminder that life is to be lived and its moments to be enjoyed as much as possible. I wonder what Nechama is looking at in the second photo? Something has all her attention!

    • Since you asked, Gillyk, while Nechama and I were enjoying the protected and warm space inside, there were some rather busy crows doing something in the tree outside, and I think that is what caught her attention. Usually she just sits and watches the whole landscape with a dreamy countenance, enjoying it all. Thank you very much for your comment.

  13. Lovely pace to your writing, and days..

  14. I like how your illustrate your entries with your photographs. Enjoy your weekend, too, Shimon.

  15. First the images. The sunlight coming through the blinds is a masterpiece….and of course I love both the images of Nechame…especially the second one. Yes, how lovely to watch the cold and snow from the safely of her home. Like you, although still very busy, I don’t have the same concerns around inclement weather that I might have done years ago when my children were younger, and driving was necessary. We had some ‘real’ snow in London recently, and what I loved most was the quietness of it all. As you say, much less traffic and a sense of great contentment, to stay inside and paint, write or read.
    Watching animals as they change and adjust to the different seasons is a very good lesson for us all.
    Thank you, Shimon for another beautiful post. x

    • It is always a special pleasure to hear that you’ve enjoyed my pictures, because as you know, I love your pictures so much… both your paintings and your photography. And yes, how lucky for us, that we have survived the hectic days, and are able to enjoy the bliss of going with the flow. It is certainly a pleasure to be a human being, with all the capacities that we can enjoy… but good too, not to forget that we’re part of the animal family too, and to keep in touch with those universal characteristics that we share with them. Thank you very much for your words Janet. I just loved your last post: http://janetweightreed10.blog.co.uk/2013/01/30/parallel-universes-15480976/

  16. Was nice to read this post, nice and relaxing and the light in the photos so lovely. The pigeon is most unusual colours I think! Our snow has gone from here in the south-east of England, but I did enjoy the light you get with snow….

    • Thank you very much, Arose. Yes, the pigeon did look different, because of the colors… but after I started getting responses that it was indeed a pigeon, I realized that there was no doubt. Too bad the snow is gone. I am sure it was a beautiful present to the people of London. So very elegant, to see everything in white. All the best to you. Always good to see you.

  17. Oh this is such a lovely post – I’m becoming fond of your little cat 🙂 They’re so funny with snow though aren’t they, absolute shock and surprise, mine always meowls at me like it’s my fault and I should hurry up and do something about it 🙂 These are great pictures – particularly the sunlight through the blinds..I think that being able to appreciate and notice the small details in life is a great gift..

    • Thank you so much, Cath. Nechama seems to take snow in stride. I’ve had cats who really didn’t like rain. But she doesn’t mind. What she really doesn’t like, is my smoking… but somehow, she gets the point across but still suffers me. So glad you like the pictures. Thanks for your comment.

  18. You have a way of drawing us gently into your life. It’s like sharing a cup of cappuccino together. Thank you.

    Oh, and I like that picture of the bird very much.

    • Well, it’s been pointed out to me that the bird is a pigeon. The colors mislead me. Glad you enjoyed the post. Always good to see you here, yearstricken.

  19. Sweet friend, I feel like I’m sitting in your stone house right along side you enjoying a warm brew of your goodness. Your posts are melodic in tone and gently, word after word I am entranced into a state of peace… no matter what you’re talking about! that’s a gift…
    thank you…

  20. I learn something here every time. Cappuccino….I love it but I never thought of the origin’s of it 😉

    • Always good to have you join us, Linda. I know our winter is somewhat mild compared to yours, but it would be good to sit together and have a warm drink.

  21. Another lovely, thought-provoking post Shimon. I love the photos of Nechama – and especially the one of the walk in your neighbourhood, it looks like a lovely place! x

    • Thank you very much Scarlet. Yes, I feel very lucky, that I am surrounded by beautiful people, and a beautiful neighborhood… and how nice it is to reach out, and meet others from across the seas. Your blog is a special pleasure, cause you always leave me smiling.

  22. Another really enjoyable post, Shimon. Your writing lifts my spirits! Nechama is a beautiful cat. And I really like your photographs – they have an unhurried look to them, that communicates a real love of the patterns of life.

    • It is a pleasure to hear such words from a fellow photographer, Richard. I’m so glad you enjoy the posts. And yes, I do love life, and try to appreciate it in all its shades.

  23. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    I so, so love your pictures. I can almost see that hail on the pane…

    I love how you’re inspired, Shimon – inspired by noticing things/people: the speed limit, taking advantage of the upper limits to stretch beyond & feel “satisfied” and as if you got “more”. A truly pensive, & meaningful post. Thank you.

  24. I squeezed into the last seat in the the last car on the last train here. Whew! It’s good to be here too. I loved this little chat about your home. I thought you lived in a more urban area of Jerusalem. Now, I see that you have a ski slope adjacent to your house. I have no idea why I thought you lived very close to other two-story houses on a city street. Nechama is such a joy. The expression on her little face as she looks through the window makes me smile. She is such a curious, intelligent girl. I find it absolutely charming that she walks with you like a regular lap dog! Sweet Nechama! I often worry that she will meet with an accident out of doors.

    You know, I can never find a slow pace. I am either dead asleep or sitting upright in a bone-crunching kind of earnestness to do whatever I am doing. I choose straight-backed chairs no matter how conveniently located soft chairs may be. It’s a personality disorder of the “first order”, I am afraid. I always regarded the statement, “I need to rest”, as the absurd and disgusting excuse of the lazy. The weather here has been very mild this year. It feels almost as if we’ve had no winter at all.

    I enjoyed the photographs and the sound of your voice here. 🙂

    • Actually, George, I do live in an urban area, and when viewed from the front, there is a row of six story houses. But behind my house is a charming nature park, and a little forest, as well as a park that is reserved for wild flowers. I couldn’t ask for a better place. Nechama is a great friend, though she has a mind of her own, and is quite stubborn… as I am myself. I worry sometimes about accidents myself. But what can you do> That is life. Like yourself, I too like straight backed chairs, and sitting straight too. But still, I often enjoy the slow pace, and quiet contemplation. How nice it is to chat with you. Have no fear about getting on the train in time. Here in the blog world, the cars can be found forever… and your thoughts are always welcome.

  25. This post made me miss Jerusalem so much. I hear in my head the song Yerushalaim: Me’al pisgat har ha’tzofim esh’tah’chave lach ah’pa’im….
    Nechama has such a distinct personality.

    • I would like to think you would like Nechama’s personality if you got to know her… who knows; she has a mind of her own. Jerusalem is truly a beautiful place to be.

  26. Lovely post, Shimon. I try to reflect on the beauty of the winter season when I take the train and passes through scenic landscape of forests and fields. However, when confronted by the strong wind and icy snow today, I can’t help but long for another season especially when the walk from the station to the office almost had my jaw frozen. 😉

    • I know what you’re talking about Malou… sometimes I can take it, and sometimes I can’t. No matter how well you dress, there are times when the cold finds its way to your skin, and the ache commands our attention. Even if we’re all bundled up, there’s still the nostrils exposed. But most of the time, I’m spoiled, well protected in my home, watching the elements through the window. Then the idea of it is enjoyable, and I don’t have to bear it on the body. Thanks for coming by, and for your comment.

  27. Even though our minds may have decided we should have done something or read something or said something before “now”, I’m quite convinced that there are times when being “tardy” is quite perfect timing. Case in point: your post that I’m only getting to today. Lovely in every way, and just the sort of pace I was hoping to set for the day. Thank you Shimon!

    • You’re very welcome, my dear Spree, and thank you too. Nothing to worry about… these posts aren’t going to fade away so fast, I imagine… so there is always time to check them out, when you really feel like it. And I am always very happy to have your company.

  28. Hi Shimon. So nice to relax and read you at the same time. Intriguing to know how Cappuccino came to be named. I rarely drink coffee and I only like it cold. Espresso done right is wonderful. I especially liked the image of the sun thru the window on books.
    Most of my life was in the realm of RING….”Come now, Hurry!. We need you” Click! My mind had to slow down to keep from damaging myself or others, all the while wondering what I’m getting into. Always a sort of “Zen” experience for me, and I guess I’m addicted to it, as I REally miss it now that I’m retired.
    Always so nice to read you.

    • Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, Bob. I am so glad you enjoyed this post. I too, had a period of my life, when I had so much work that I almost didn’t do anything for myself. I justified it to myself, because I loved my work so much… and I was working at a couple of different types of work at the same time, But looking back, I think it was a mistake not to have empty time. I believe that is very important for inner growth and for absorbing all the things we learn in this busy life. Unlike yourself, I don’t miss the intense work at all these days, but I have to admit, that even though I try to take it easy… I never seem to finish all the things on my agenda.

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