Here in the little village, outside of Jerusalem, we are enjoying our first snow storm of the year. It came as something of a surprise to me. Though we were warned. The weather reports referred to a storm, with winds of up to 100 km per hour, but there was only passing mention of ‘light snow’ and rain. And we’ve often been warned in the past. These warnings aren’t taken very seriously. But of course, the reality of any situation, makes a very different impression than the discussion that comes beforehand. During the night we were informed of hundreds of people who were rescued from their cars on the streets of Jerusalem. This morning, we were told of more than 2000. Roads and highways have been blocked by snow. Stranded people are brought to refuge stations that have been set up. Diapers and warm milk are provided for the babies Now we hear that driving is prohibited in Jerusalem and in the nearby villages.
Electricity is no longer working. The home in which I am presently living is heated by natural gas. But as it turns out, the gas furnace is controlled by electricity, so that doesn’t work either. And though the sun has come out… somewhere… and I can see beautiful snow filled landscapes through the window, it was so dark this morning, inside, that I was forced to use a battery powered electric lamp in order to write on my battery powered computer. Fortunately, I also have a radio that works on a battery, and so can continue to be amused by news of the emergency situation. I won’t bend the truth. I’m enjoying every minute of this adventure. There is something very exciting about watching all of our excellent ‘state of the art’ conveniences fold under the pressure of nature. Trees have fallen down, And the electrical grid has failed. Covered with blankets, we watch the storm through our windows, drinking tea prepared on our gas burner. We have bread, We have water, It looks like we’ll have no problem lasting through the storm.
Yet though this isn’t a tragedy, many of our local citizens can’t help but wonder why it is that in other countries, say in northern Europe, they’re able to provide normal services while covered for months by a blanket of snow, here everything has come to a standstill after only a couple of days of snow. And the answer is relatively simple. Every locality provides answers to the common problems of that locality. If we had snow for long stretches of time, there’s no question we would build the necessary devices to deal with it. But since it only comes a few times each year, it’s easier to look at it as a temporary inconvenience and not employ all the means available, for that costs money. If the town fathers were asked to decide whether to invest in heavy machinery and structural improvements in order to weather proof the town, or to spend the money on fireworks for Independence Day, you can be sure that they would prefer the fire works. But now that a lot of people have found themselves stuck on the streets, one hears complaints.
On the other hand, a parallel question is why people in our country get such a kick out of the snow while others see it as no more than a nuisance? The answer to that is that people can find glee in an unusual event, but grow weary of standard difficulties. It’s quite popular for people living outside of Jerusalem to make their way to our mountain top city to celebrate the winter weather, and introduce their children to the craft of building snow men. All of which reminds us that just a little goes a long way, and that what is rare is precious.
Once again a reminder that in this age of ‘two for the price of one’ we are losing our appreciation for the value of things. We have too much plenty around us. We’re becoming insensitive. We’re taking more and more for granted, and focusing on short term desires; allowing commercial interests to influence our choices in life. I can’t help but feel joy at having been reduced to basics by this storm. With many layers of clothing, and wearing a jacket inside, I sit here in my usual writing spot, in the dining corner of Janne’s kitchen. It will be a challenge to post this latest edition to the blog. But as you know, I’m both conservative and methodical. I would be unhappy were I not able to keep up with my weekly post. So I have two laptops lines up on the kitchen table, and when the battery of one becomes exhausted, I plan to move on to the second one. The post itself will be sent by cellular modem. The wifi isn’t working because the electricity is off. But if it turns out that cellular communications are down as well, you will only see these efforts after the storm.
Janne and I got pleasantly wet and cold while taking a walk around the neighborhood yesterday. Bonnie the dog would stop from time to time to do a short rendition of the ‘twist’ in order to lighten the load of snow that continuously covered her. And both Janne and I had cameras with us and recorded familiar environment, transformed by the weather to beautiful wintry scenes. And now, as I write my blog post, she is preparing for the upcoming Sabbath by producing a hot soup, the ritual Sabbath challah bread, and an apple pie with the limited means at her disposal. Even though the local supermarket is no longer supplied because of the blockage of the intercity highway, we will be enjoying all the delights of the Sabbath. It’s almost too good to be true.
While on our walk, Janne took a shot of me, enthusiastically taking a picture of a snow covered tree. She called her picture, ‘Dancing In The Snow’, and I have adopted that title for this blog post. What a pleasure to dance out our appreciation of nature. Our national public radio station concluded it’s news roundup with the advice, “Don’t go out if you don’t have to”. My answer: This is the time to go out and marvel at nature. And remember, with all of our genius, we’re just a fly sitting on an elephant’s ear. Have a beautiful weekend.