take nothing for granted

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The rain stopped, and we stepped out to take a walk, Nechama and I. The air was chilly and crisp. There was greenery all around, and though many of the flowers on the trees had been knocked out in the stormy weather, there were still a lot of flowers, the most beautiful, those white ones on the almond tree. This is the season of the almond flowers, and we gazed at them for quite a while, marveling at winter’s promise of future tastiness. As children, we found our consolation in the munching of almonds, given us in little bags, mixed together with dark red raisins.

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From down the tiled walk, between the trees and the wide rubbery green leaves of the plant life luxuriating, came BlackandWhite Junior, eager to join us in our walk.

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Couldn’t you be nicer to B&W junior,
I asked Nechama as we walked along
and saw him coming towards us with
broad smile, and playful stride
eager to continue in our company…

No, she said…
if you want to be his friend
bless you for your innocence.
I know things you haven’t even imagined
the face of reality has nothing to do
with the little children’s fable
you would like to teach me

I’ll relate to the reality
and you can call him sweetheart,
and pet him… and huddle with him…
I know him all right,
and have nothing against him…
just don’t choose to make him my friend…

Could be, I see things that you don’t see
I mentioned
we walked a bit more
It could be, she said…
and then, that’s to your advantage
and my loss is mine
but either way… she spat
I’ll stay a cat
and you’ll stay a monkey
and it’ll be a wonder forever
in the eyes of friends and foes
that we are friends.

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We walked a while in silence. From time to time, Nechama would stop to study the scenery around us. Words weren’t necessary. We were both moved by the sights before us. The crows celebrated in quick short flights, coming down to the plants from the tops of the trees… walking sometimes on the dirt between the plants, on our paved walkway… ignoring us for the most part. They had no fear. Sometimes they came awfully close to Nechama… but she would watch them attentively, yet make no move to intimidate them.

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there’s so much more to do
said Nechama to the monkey…
than to show your ass

especially if it’s done with intention

every thought
and every word,
and every action…
that hasn’t been realized

still floats through the air
serendipitously…
but when, god forbid,
you start taking yourself seriously
and shout your truth from the mountain…
try shouting melodiously
so as not to disturb the cows
munching on the grass…
for all god’s creatures
want to enjoy nature

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the plum blossoms were beautiful too; their pink shades more apparent from a distance than when we approached to examine them. The dogs lounged on the grass and soaked up the sun. They watched as two other neighborhood dogs approached one another with the knowing, casual attitudes of old friends. These dogs were larger and looked like finely groomed wolves.

D2043_48

take nothing for granted
most of our visions…
and almost all of our desires…
are but attempts to fit in
to momentary realities
that change
like pictures of the sand
… not on the beach
but in a miniature hour glass
meant to time
soft boiled eggs.

what was just right
a moment ago
is right now
as if for yesterday

and living in the past
is a cruel delusion
no better
than organizing
a birthday party for the dead
in the TV room
of a madhouse

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85 responses to “take nothing for granted

  1. Such richness here, Shimon! Thank you for the beautiful photographs and the philosophic words of Nechama: she has much to teach me about walking lightly, being present, and remaining aware of others’ rights to experience their world and feelings fully, too.

    • Thank you very much, Catherine. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. As you no doubt know, we have examples in the bible, not only of conversation between man and animal, but even the picture of a human being speaking to a stone. Unfortunately, words are often reduced to meaningless barks. But the more we open ourselves up to the animals, plants and even the inanimate objects around us, the more we discover regarding mutual awareness and understanding. Needless to say, that once we learn to communicate with the living creatures close to us, it is even easier to communicate with our fellow human beings.

  2. You are both so lovely so lovely…. Blessing and Happiness to you both. I am glad spring is there, I miss ours… Photographs are so beautiful but dear Shimon your poetical talking is great, I loved so much. Thank you, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • It is always such a pleasure to hear your good wishes, and your blessings, Nia. You are truly a strong and giving woman, and I consider myself blessed through your visits. Thank you so much, and my wishes for a very beautiful week.

  3. Such wonderfully deep philosophy you and Nechama engage in on your walks; she makes a wonderful walking companion, just as you do for her! I was delighted by your opposing approaches to the black and white cat, as it speaks volumes about how we as humans each see things so differently. And yet you remain the best of friends, there is a good lesson in that! I loved the photographs too, and the processed one of Nechama, turning her into somewhat of a etheral shadow figure – very well done!

    • It makes me very happy to know you enjoyed this post, Josie. Sometimes, I have one thing planned when I sit down to write my blog post, and then something completely different demands my attention. I am grateful that my friends have patience with me, and understand what I’m saying. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Ah your walks with Nechama are wonderful – such scenery and conversations. Poetry in all of it.

  5. I think Carl Jung would define it as talking with your shadow? Beautiful photos which convey the weather without being there.

    • Glad you liked the weather, Rachel. I would like to think that Jung would have great respect for conversations between man and animal, and wouldn’t relegate the cat to the role of a shadow. You remind me of a true story I once heard of Jung, when he met with American Indians living on a reservation. Perhaps one of these days I’ll be able to work it into a blog post. Thanks.

  6. Oh WOW! What an amazing post…..I loved it and felt like I was there walking with you both and eyeing the wolf like dogs, the crows and that BEAUTIFUL plum blossom. I really didn’t want this to end. You certainly are the Grand Master with words.
    Ahhhh yes, cats will be cats and like to choose their own friends and certainly see us as monkeys.
    I am gardening a few hours each day in the front these days and Curly keeps me company and strolls around the garden with me, funnily enough there is a black and white cat that she refuses to be-friend as well, and she too has her secret knowledge of what that cat gets up to!!!!
    I loved what you did with the photo of Nechama, it made her look most mysterious.
    Do those dogs ever go after the cats Shimon, and are they pets or street dogs? It was lovely them.xxxxx

    • Oh, Dina, I know that you and Nechama would be instant friends were you ever to meet. What would be interesting, would be to see her and Curly together. She is pretty social, but has her limits as well. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. The dogs are pets, and sometimes they do try to scare cats… but it seems to me that the cats have the situation well in hand, and feel quite secure. Here in Jerusalem, street dogs are not allowed, but cats are free to go where they wish and do what they want. Just another reason, that I feel so much at home here.

  7. Such beautiful words, Shimon…your tender heart. Thank you for this Friday-morning present. I will have to come back to you and read it again when I’m not at work amidst the typing keys and noise…. Wonderful, my friend.

    • Thank you so much, my friend. I hope that the post brought you a smile, while you were at work… and what kindness to send me a comment from such circumstances. Always good to hear from you, Scott.

      • You are most welcome, dear Shimon…and honestly, I often visit you from there, from work. I look for you on Friday mornings, when I’m able to, in the quieter time before the phones start ringing and my co-workers are fully awake…and then I come back to you at home in the quiet of the evening, or on a Saturday afternoon, as I am now…when others are napping or playing quietly in their rooms. If you were down the street, I’d like to stop-by for some coffee, or to take a walk with you and Nechama, visiting your Jerusalem hills and almond groves, pointing out to you that the grass and wildflowers look like the ones found in my former desert home, those thousands of miles away….

        • How nice it would be if we had that luxury, to visit face to face, have a cup of coffee together, and to enjoy the things we have in common. In a way, we are like the ghosts, described in ancient literature… crossing the seas in minutes… free as birds, but somewhat removed from the physical reality of human existence…

  8. orlando gustilo

    Done with intention….how rarely do we do this alone or with a friend! Sweet thoughts for the sabbath, Shimon.

    • Yes, I agree, intention is the key to a worthwhile human life. Thank you very much Orlando. It was a beautiful Sabbath, and my best wishes for a very fine week.

  9. Such a pleasure to accompany you and Nechama on your walks together Shimon. Thank you so much for inviting us along.

  10. It was nice that you took us all on your walk!

  11. This is a deeply beautiful post, full of observation and emotion. Wise and thoughtful. Thank you.

  12. this was so inspired, and gentle, and harsh, and true

    especially loved this part:
    “and living in the past
    is a cruel delusion
    no better
    than organizing
    a birthday party for the dead
    in the TV room
    of a madhouse”

    • One of the things I always appreciate about you, N, is that you look life straight in the eye. And so, you were the one to say both gentle and harsh. And you’re right, of course. Life has both sides. But facing reality can open all doors. So glad to hear from you. Thanks for your comment.

  13. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com

    Wonderful,lovely pictures. Best regards.jalal

  14. I too wish I could walk with Nechama – and am very appreciative that you so beautifully capture the conversations and the imagery. Thank you

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Mimi. It is very pleasant to have someone to walk with, when it’s a regular part of your day. Glad you liked the post.

  15. I loved it and I felt I was there with you both on your stroll

  16. Your crafting of words is nothing short of beautiful!

  17. This is terrific. I love Nechama’s independence and the way her ‘attitudes’ challenge yours – and ours!

  18. This really carries the reader along; lyrical, poetic and a gentle rhythm like the pace of a gentle stroll in the Spring sunshine

  19. Ah, yes, Nechama, the doppelgänger. What an interesting walk, Shimon. I particularly enjoyed the company.

  20. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Shimon, your works are really special not just in how you put us in where you’re at under the sunshine blessed spring on a walk, but you really are so poetic, and pensive. Excellent. A pleasure to have come by.

    And just LOVE your kitty pics 🙂 What happy pussy cats…

    • I am so glad that you came by, Noeleen… and yes, the cats have a very good life around here. All of us are grateful for our good luck. Thank you for your comment.

  21. Beautifully written! Especially enjoyed the lovely blossoms as we are all looking forward to Spring here in Ohio.

    • Well, it isn’t really spring yet, around here. One can still feel the cold biting the tip of the nose, but there are more blue skies, and there is a lot of greenery around. Thanks for the comment Gypsy Bev.

  22. Good morning dear Shimon….Ah the beautiful Nechama has such wise words. I like to think that I am with you in spirit on these walks.
    I love all images of Nechama, but do find the third one down very effective….it has a dreamy quality to it.
    I wish you and yours a beautiful day and please do tell Nechama that I am thinking about her:)

    • My dear Janet, you are often in my thoughts… sometimes on walks, and often when I’m playing in my studio… sometimes, when I’m looking at an apple. I’m so glad you liked the post, and it doesn’t surprise me that you especially liked the more abstract view of Nechama. Thank you so much for joining us on our walk. The day are getting much more beautiful now, towards the end of winter… and the spirit is rising.

  23. we can learn a lot by animals …

  24. This is enchanting and moving ..sharing your mind and heart as you walk out into your spring time of almond blossom.I’ve not seen such a post before with both poetry and prose..I loved going with you…seems as if you are changing within as you write

    • Thank you very much, Mary. Very glad you enjoyed the post. If you check out cats in the categories, you might find a bit more like that. I have to say, it’s a pleasure for me to share my thoughts with my friends. Have a beautiful day.

      • Thank you.I have read more posts and I notice this one seems different as it combines poetry,prose and photographs..really quite unusual and makes an emotional/spiritualo impression.. maybe it’s the foretaste of Spring?

  25. Very innovatively written…and lovely photographs too! 🙂

  26. Love the structure of this post, Shimon (it’s obvious you love jazz). There is something “authentically” cat-like about Nechama’s words – that concoction of common sense, haughtiness and seeing life for what it is.

    • Yes Richard, you’re certainly right about that. Jazz is the music I enjoy the most, though I do listen to blues occasionally, and to some classical music… especially Bach. And cats… well they’re truly part of my life… and have been through the years. I’m very glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the comment.

  27. I had no idea Nechama was a poet. 🙂 Love the almond blossoms and the green scenery on your walk.

    • Yes, my dear yearstricken, Nechama is thought of as a very cool cat around here. Glad you liked these first signs of the coming spring. Thanks so much for your comment.

  28. Oh I love this post so much 😀 I have a feeling cats really do think exactly like this 🙂

    • Hi there, SighYuki. As you probably know, there are all sorts of cats, just as there all kinds of people. There are certain characteristics that most cats have in common, like curiosity… but even among cats, there are exceptions to the rule. I’ve lived with cats all my life, and gotten to know a few who were really exceptional. Thank you very much for your comment.

      • Yeah, this is true 🙂 I have always grown up with cats as my parents love them (I do to but where I live I’m not allowed to) and I’ve encountered cats with all different types of personalities. I guess I should say, I could imagine your cat being just like this! Other cats I have known perhaps not so much 🙂 Always welcome 🙂

  29. Beautifully written!

  30. We are told that envy is not a good thing, but after reading you, I am happy to be envious of your ability with words. Almost magical. I know absolutely nothing about growing almonds and wonder what their blossom smells like and what the fruit looks like. I only see the “Jordan Almonds” with a sugar coating and I could easily be addicted to them. I’m also curios as to what Nechama has hanging around her neck. It looks large. I look forward to your posts Shimon, and am very happy to read them. You make me feel good.

    • As long as my writings make you feel good, my friend, all is well. Almonds are native to this country, and most of us love them. I do like Jordan almonds too. But most of all, I like marzipan, and especially those marzipan sculptures that I saw in Europe, and in America too. Here they’re not so popular, but we do have marzipan that is made in the image of a braided Sabbath bread. In answer to your curiosity, that thing that is hanging on Nechama’s neck, is an electronic key to the house. This allows her to come and go without asking for help, and no one else can visit without invitation. I had to get a cat door like that when I started getting too many cat visitors, and the door works very well. Thanks for your comment, Bob.

  31. Your lovely companion Nechama is as wise as she is beautiful!

  32. It’s about time we heard Nechama’s point of view and her perceptions. It was very brave of you to translate her conversation with you. I am sure Nechama will be most appreciative of the good behavioural report you have given her. Cats being cats, she will be like ‘una donna mobile.’ Your next interpretation of your feline mullings may look very different.

    One question though; what was Nechama’s opinion of the pictures you took of her, and the photos selected for publishing here?

    I look forward to the next instalment of this diary. 🙂

    • Interesting that you should ask what Nechama thinks of my photographs of her. I have had friends who very much enjoyed photographs of them, and some who were never satisfied, but till now, I’ve never had a cat who took much interest in my photography, whether it was of exotic subjects or themselves. Nechama does like to watch TV, if I’m watching. She seems to like a good movie. But sometimes I’ve called her to look at a cat… sometimes a big cat that was on the screen. But it never seemed to interest her. Thanks for coming by.

  33. Ah Shimon, you are taking us for a wander both physically and mentally.
    I’ve always wanted to see and smell Almond blossoms, I’ve read about them in literature many a time and they evoke such a strong image for me (and the writer). Maybe one day….

    • I’m so glad, Claire, you enjoyed some exotic sights as well. The flowers and the fruit are much loved here. I used to take a walk, every year, with a painter friend, who is no longer in this world, to visit the trees in a beautiful natural park here in Jerusalem.

  34. Lovely and poetic post Shimon.

    You make your experiences so vivid and interesting with your thoughtfulness!

  35. Fantastic, invigorating words! I agree with Richard, this post felt like music..

  36. What a wonderful wander with you (& your most philosophical cat) this has been Shimon! A wander that has set my mind to pondering, and I thank you for it! Those almond blossoms are exquisite…having never caught their scent before, I have to ask…the smell of almond paste or extract is one of my favorites…is that the scent that fills the air when almond trees are in bloom? How heavenly that would be!

    • I’m very happy that you enjoyed the post, Spree. I do enjoy the flowers and their scent, but it isn’t exactly like almond paste. But it is a great enjoyment to see them flowering all over the place… the first promise of the spring to come. Thanks for your comment.

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