sheep in pasture

Nechama looks out at the rainy day

Well, it’s winter again. I’m sitting opposite the window, watching the rain come down, and it’s cold outside. And because of all the windows here in my living room, some of that cold is getting in, despite the fact that I have double windows here. But I’ve added an extra heater to my arsenal, and have still another one ready and waiting if necessary, so it looks like I will be able to withstand the winter cold. But it’s not just a question of temperature. Looking out at a gray world has its effect too. It brings a somber mood.

the light of winter

My thoughts go back to a week ago… and the trip we took, Chana and I, to the south. Though it was warm then, the skies were gray then too, because of the dust that had blown in from North Africa. That dust was uncomfortable, but there was fresh grass in the fields, brought by a spell of sunny days, and flowers all around. We visited a flower farm, and saw some beautiful flowers, meant to be placed on my table or yours, in a vase for decoration. That was the day we visited the book barn. And that was the day we saw the sheep grazing on the green grass that had come with the premature spring.

rainy day seen through the window

Watching the sheep graze on the newly sprouted grasses was a great pleasure. I felt like I could easily spend a day just watching those sheep, and be satisfied. I watched the shepherd for a while. He sat comfortably with an eye on the sheep… not doing much… watching them eat and play. I thought of shepherds, and of those mentioned in the bible.

goat trying to climb a tree

Jacob was a shepherd. So were Moses and King David. From the biblical standpoint, being a shepherd is considered good training for a leader of men. Jesus spoke of himself as a shepherd. Watching the sheep graze, though, I thought it much easier to take care of sheep. They didn’t seem to be nearly as troublesome as human beings. A little mischief here and there, but not much. And not many wolves to threaten the herd either. But there are livestock thieves around. I suppose that’s the worst threat to the shepherd these days. The characteristic that is most connected with the shepherd is that of compassion.

sheep in the field

I watch the birds take advantage of a short break in the downpour, moving as a group from one roof top to another, down the street. The trees sway in the wind. The skies are getting darker, though we are still in the middle of the day. The cars on the nearby highway have their lights on. Nechama seems to enjoy watching the world go by from our elevated windows. And it’s warm here, behind the windows, I too enjoy the winter scene. I remember that only recently I spoke of not finding inspiration to photograph when it rains. Now I wonder if my new circumstances might not lead me to a new appreciation of winter.

grazing sheep

The telephone rings. News of a friend with health problems in the north. Not the best weather for a trip. But life is full of surprises… and I see some large birds on their way to the horizon. Maybe there will be some interesting images along the way. Wishing my friends a joyous Sabbath, and a very happy Purim holiday.

an alien I found on my table… it’s a date


54 responses to “sheep in pasture

  1. Aah, a date. We have one gorgeous one left, we’re both waiting to see who will make a move on it. Happy Purim to you Shimon.

    Sorry to hear about your friend. I wish him well.

    In your position, I would invest in some lined curtains, they do make a difference when the nights are cold, they slow down the loss of heat through the windows. In summer, you can close your blinds and draw the curtains to keep down the extremes of heat.

    Our neighbours, stewards of sheep, are busy with lambing, it has been building up since about late January. I’ve had great enjoyment watching gamboling lambs and the mothering of them by the ewes. It gave me a chance to try hand held distance shots.

    Nechama is a good weather vane. I would think twice about getting my fur wet , too. Remember, the cautionary note offered last post about the current affect on the weather patterns of the vagaries of the Jet Stream.

    There are some interesting images that come with rainfall. You have one with the figure that Nechama may be watching from one of your windows and with the autoroute in the middle distance giving context. If it helps you any, as I write, It is cold, we have lots of rain, grey skies and almost gale force winds that accompany it.

    Shabbat Shalom Shimon. x

    • Thank you for your advice, my dear menhir. The wooden blinds do help, together with the double windows. And I always have mixed feelings when it comes to blinds. Aside from keeping the cold out, which is important, I love being awoken by the first light of day… and I’m quite sensitive to that. When I close the windows up completely, I miss that joy that comes with the hints of a new day. I remember well, what you said about the jet stream. And understand that there are undercurrents that affect our lives, bringing cold and warmth from far away places… and sometimes, upsetting the balance. Thank you for your good wishes. May this be a happy week for you and yours.

  2. What a lovely contrast between the rainy gray and the sheep in the green bright meadow…thank you for the beautiful images of both, Shimon, and for the thoughtful reflection on shepherds, which led me to think about my “inner shepherdess” and how she guides my own spirit and others…

    I hope the spring’s warmth travels north and offers healing to your friend, and I wish you a joyful Purim. Gentle peace to you and Nechama.

    • I am already in the north country, Kitty. Grabbing a few minutes to enjoy the communication available on computer. It’s cold and hazy here… but there are flowers everywhere, bursting forward in anticipation of spring. Thank you very much for your good wishes. It is very good to be aware of the ‘inner shepherdess’. As rational human beings, we have the tendency to put more emphasis on ‘what we can see’. But reading your beautiful posts, one senses your awareness… your beautiful balance with the environment around you. Always so good to share with you.

  3. A truly lovely post, Shimon. That fresh fig looks so delicious. 🙂 I wish your dear friend, better health. I’m sure your visit will lift his spirits. Beautiful images, both of your cat at the window, and the sheep. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on everything.

    • Thank you very much, anotherday2paradise, for your good wishes. Unfortunately, both for my friends and for myself, as we grow older… we have to learn to to continue our lives with limited capacities. It’s a challenging process… and something we don’t think about much, till we’re finally forced to come to terms with that reality. Still, even when we’re limited, life can be a wondrous miracle… a true gift.

  4. Ah yes, rainy days….I think it is the gray skies more than the rain that is so difficult. Imagine if the sun was shining as it rained….for me…most likely intoxicating! Those gray skies flatten everything, wash out all the color, making the air damp rather than just wet. But I think you are right Shimon…better to get out in it a little bit. Like an inoculation …. see what there is to see with gray eyes.

    • I’ve heard that there are some places on the globe, where there are moments of rain, on otherwise sunny days. Not something I’ve experienced myself. And the gray skies do affect the mood. But here we are blessed with three out of the four seasons in which the colors do tease us and offer us inspiration. Thanks for your comment, JH.

  5. The windows to the world. As I’ve mentioned before I love rooms with windows and light, either sun or gray dreary days, I always find comfort inside looking out; maybe in another life I was a cat.
    Safe journeys wherever you go, Shimon.

    • Yes, I have always loved windows too, Angeline. But because I lived on the ground floor, and there were trees and bushes around, and so I had less of a view of the surroundings. From my new home, even rainy days have their beauty. And yes, we who love cats, make room for the cat inside of us to express herself…

  6. Beautiful photographs and especially Nechama 🙂 so lovely, Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • So glad you enjoyed the photos, Nia. And thanks for the good wishes. I am sure that you and Nechama would be great friends, were you to join her by the window. Best wishes for a beautiful week.

  7. Dear Shimon,

    First of all, I LOVE your photo of the alien! I would NEVER have recognized your UTO (unidentified Table Object).

    Your photographs of sheep and sunshine and green grass are like Wordsworth’s daffodils.

    “…For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils…”

    It’s a good thing I have a strong inward eye, because we do get many gray or rainy days in Seattle! Stay warm and cozy, dear friend.

    • Thank you so much, Naomi, for refreshing my memory with those wonderful words of Wordsworth. It’s been about half a century since I enjoyed meeting his poetry… and I think the years have made me more appreciative. Fortunately, my new home is in fact warm and cozy, and I have the comfort of knowing that spring is around the corner. So good to hear from you.

  8. I’m sorry you are catched by cold weather and rain… but the lovely Nechama just feels right and not at all bothered by the pouring rain!
    Naomi didn’t get it… but after a vacation in Egypt with a lot of fresh dates, it was a joke to guess it 🙂
    Here, after that too much snow, it finally seams that the spring arrived! All the cherry and plumes trees are in blossom (remembering the japanese Sakura of my Swissair time in Tokyo and Kyoto)…
    You’ll see, soon and quiter as always, the spring will kiss you gooday as well… Yes, a lovely Sabbath to you too :-)claudine

    PS. wowww goats and sheep alike in Wales and Scothland

    • Yes, it is wonderful, after the cold of winter to see the first signs of spring… the colors, the green grass… and here and there, blue skies. We’ve been spoiled by human inventions, having more candies around us than we would bother to eat. But those dates, natural as can be… are as rich as the sweetest candies. And yes, goats and sheep are very much alike, till we get to know them intimately. Thank you very much for your comment, Claudine.

  9. We are currently experiencing gray and wet weather again here in south Texas (USA), and the lovely cold front has moved on to other areas, so already the thermometer is climbing into the upper 70’s (F), which means damp humidity and gray skies. For many years, it never occurred to me how much the gray weather affects my disposition; once I finally managed to figure it out, I worked hard at finding indoor distractions that would pull my focus away from the gloom, and towards something more pleasing.

    Alas, if you must travel in wet weather, I wish you safety, as I’m sure your friend will be well contented with a visit. Although the journey may take you out into the gray and gloomy colors of rain, my guess is that you will manage to find something of interest on which to train your lens. At the very least, you will have a destination, and a journey, and will surely see some unexpected sights along the way.

    As to that “cold weather seeps in from outside” thing, my own home has a large bank of windows in the dining room, and similarly, when it is cold outside, the chill has a way of seeping inward. One thing I’ve done is to use space heaters (same as you), and I’ve also applied a reflective film directly to the inside of the windows that is intended to ward off the force of the sun’s rays in the summer time, but a friend told me the film also helps create yet another protective barrier and layer of insulation, even in the winter time, so it was worth trying. Not too expensive, and relatively easy to install.

    I personally do not prefer fabric window coverings (curtains, valances, or fabric blinds) so I have also installed a heavier grade of wooden window blinds on all my windows, which also helps to alleviate some of the transfer of cold on those colder days. From your photos, it appears you might also have wooden blinds, or blinds of some sort. One thing I do like about window blinds is that they allow you to choose the level of exposure and light, which can be quite helpful in various types of weather, and they are relatively easy to clean and maintain. As much as I hate to lose the light, there are times I keep my blinds completely closed in an effort to ward off the worst of the chill.

    Not sure if you have a similar product available there, but one other thing I use throughout the winter months is something I thought up on my own because I was looking for something that was very low cost that would help insulate the exposed windows because the windows in my dining room are NOT double pane, (and I can’t afford to replace them just yet). Here in the states we have something commonly referred to as “reflective windshield sun shade foldable visors”. I have no clue what they are actually made of, but they sort of remind me of bubble wrap encased in a silver reflective film with a semi-firm fabric stitched edge. Extremely light weight, bendable, and one sun shade is large enough to completely cover a single pane of windows (for less than two dollars each). It isn’t the most attractive option, but during the winter months, especially on those below-freezing nights, I’ll slip one between the window and the blinds, and it really does noticeably decrease the amount of carryover chill. It helps, even though it also blocks the sunlight. I usually only use them at night, and although I would much prefer to replace the windows with something more energy efficient, until I can afford to do that, my reflective window shades are a decent alternative.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to ramble on about windows. Ironically, I also find it to be a delicate balance. Views and sunlight over energy efficiency on those cold days, or creating a barrier between me and the gloom of a rainy day. I am lucky to have some options. Such as visiting the blogs of a faraway friend who generously shares welcoming photos of frolicking sheep jostling about in green pastures, even while he shares some thoughts on shepherds.

    Safe travels, Shimon. And sunnier skies. 🙂

    • We use centigrade here in Israel, But the high 70s sound very attractive to me. And you’re right N. Beautiful scenes are everywhere, and a great part of seeing them, is in our state of mind. Up here, in a village in the north, I found some wonderful patches of flowers growing among the grass… it was a taste of heaven on earth. And all the more so, because I have been troubled on this trip by reminders of the difficulties of aging. There are so many things that we take for granted in the middle of our lives… that become tenuous as we grow older. And when meeting with old friends that I haven’t seen for a while, there is usually a little ‘bad news’ that worms its way into conversations… A name is mentioned… and then we’re told, he isn’t here anymore. But spring is around the corner. And if the flowers are encouraged, I will take a hint from them… Thanks so much for your comment.

  10. Ahaaaa …. I chuckled a bit when I read that you felt you’d have no inspiration to pick up your camera in rainy weather. And look at the beautiful results right here. The wonderful photo of Nechama, with the contrast of her perfectly delineated body next to the misty landscape viewed through the window beside her. And the unexpected beauty of a cascade of raindrops on a louvered windowpane. Proof that there’s nothing to deter an artist on the prowl for inspiration.
    Thanks for this lovely post … I’m still battling a weird virus and after seeing all those rotund and fluffy sheep, I’m going to bury my face in a huge sheepskin on the sofa and imagine myself warm and contented, snuggling against one of those comforting creatures.
    And your interpretation of that date is perfect. An alien. Of course. But I admit I’m relieved that you identified the object, or I would never have been able to sleep peacefully.

    Have a safe trip … Shalom Shimon ….

    • Yes Nikki, I am often reminded that inspiration is dependent on the mental state, and the level of awareness, much more than the subject we choose to work on. So glad you enjoyed the photos here. I too, was struck by the image of Nechama looking out at the rainy day. Very much a ‘person’. So sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with a virus. That is truly a wearing experience. We get weak, and it’s harder to wrestle loose. I wish you new strength, and rejuvenation with the coming of spring. Thanks for your good wishes.

  11. I haven’t had a date such as that since I was probably a teenager. And now I wonder why. Very nice to have such a wide expansive view from your new digs. When I moved from Tampa to Lee Co. Virginia…Hopefully my last move..the main income was from raising tobacco and digging coal. Neither much fun for me as a physician. I wonder if I can get away with a tirade against tobacco here on your blog since you told me not to try. 🙂 We are in the beginning of spring and I welcome it with open arms; looking forward to all the color and odors and critters to photograph. Happy Spring Shimon!

    • You’re always welcome to comment, my dear friend, on any subject that moves you. I know that we all have different views and attitudes towards different aspects of life. Though I have a great fondness for tobacco, I can listen patiently to a different point of view. I’ve already begun to celebrate the encouraging signs of spring, and wish you equal joy, and the delight of capturing those fresh images photographically. I hear a bird chirping outside as I write. Spring indeed.

  12. Aahh, I see Nechama is puffed up to keep herself warm. If only us humans could do that….get back our natural fur that we’ve lost over the eons. Cold and glass, heat and glass. Menhir1 has a good idea re lined curtains; that’s what I have in my lounge room for just such a purpose.

    I like your ‘tree’ pic through the rainy window….very ‘artsy’, shimon! More please…

    • Glad you enjoyed the pictures, Janina. Fortunately, though we lost our fur long ago, we still have the capacity to add a sweater, or an extra layer to our clothing. It seems that despite our natural fragility, we’ve managed to overcome most difficulties, and are living longer lives in recent years. Thanks so much for your comment.

  13. I’ve had enough of the winter, but thank goodness there are sure signs here of the spring, with daffodils, crocuses and magnolia trees in bloom. It has been sunny for almost 2 weeks, so I’m sending lots of warmth and sunshine your way. 🙂

    • Thanks for the sunshine, Fatima. I am sure it will get here soon. Despite the showers, and the dark skies, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the flowers appear among the grasses… most of their names unknown to me in English. But I’ve takes some pictures that might appear in my next blog post… brave stalks rising above the grass, searching out the sun. They give me courage.

  14. A lovely post to read Shimon. We have had our share of grey days but the last week has been warm and sunny and nature is stirring everywhere you look. I suppose grey days remind us of the value of a day filled with sunshine and flowers and fresh grass and all the other wonderful things that come with this season of renewal. My best wishes to your friend Shimon. Safe journey.

    • I’ve been here in the north for a couple of days now, and though we have had dark clouds and rain here, I’ve also noticed many beautiful flowers pushing up in search of light and warmth. It helps me keep balanced, as I am exposed to some of the problems of aging… difficulties I know well from my own experience. That fateful bell curve. But there are also great pleasures and advantages… even in old age. We just have to learn to recognize them. Thanks for your good wishes, Chillbrook.

  15. I love and appreciate your observations and I will miss California dates..

    • I sincerely hope that dates, and other sweet fruit will find you, wherever you may reside, Roberta. This world is getting smaller all the time. And the riches of nature become common to all of us… even in remote places. Wishing you all the pleasures of spring. It’s getting closer.

      • Thank you Shimon! I am sure we will figure out where to purchase dates here in Oregon. My husband used to like Date shakes that could be purchased at Hadley’s a well known store in Cabazon, CA. But we have new experiences now in front of us.. Spring is in the air!

  16. Kathryn Braithwaite

    I look forward to the flower picures and hope your friend is able to enjoy your company

    • If nothing else comes up this week, that seems more important than those photos, it’ll be a pleasure to share them… as for my friend, basically, it is the difficult process of learning to live with the limitations of old age. That can be a very difficult task… Thanks for your comment, Kathryn.

  17. Kathryn Braithwaite

    I am so sorry about your friend, and, naturally ,friends come first and we have already enjoyed so many flowers from you this spring that you don’t need to post more… just rest when you can and take good care of yourself…I’m sure all your friends here will agree.

  18. Hahahahaha….I loved your alien!! Marvelous that.
    How lovely to see the sheep and goats grazing together, and those reaching for the higher leaves. I understand your pleasure in watching them, I easily lose time doing such things too…..
    I did like hearing your thoughts on shepherds, I think I would enjoy being one….
    Shame about the rain and return of winter, good that you feel inspired to photograph it though, I shall look forward to the results. We’ve had endless rain for months and gray skies can be a little draining, here’s to sunshine for us all.
    I hope your friend recovers and that all is well. Sending lots of good vibes…xxx

    • So glad that you enjoyed that portrait of the alien. We had our Purim holiday last week, and it is customary to wear masks and costumes on that holiday. I thought that this could be my modest contribution to the holiday spirit. And it does seem that we can look at rather ordinary things at times, and see a reflection of our own imaginations. As for the shepherds, I have always had very romantic feelings about working on the land and taking care of animals, though I’ve had only minimal experience in that realm. One of my sons worded the land though, and in fact was a shepherd for a while. Watching him, I realized how difficult the work really was, and even more difficult to compete economically with industrialized companies. Eventually he went on to work in another field. Thank you so much for your good vibes. I always feel them, and enjoy them so much. xxx

  19. I love the face on that date, Shimon. And thanks for the hint – I’m not sure I would have gotten what it was. I also love the photos of the sheep and I’m reminded of the Bach composition “Sheep shall safely graze.” The contrasts in life help us to appreciate it more – or at least it seems that way to me. Thanks for sharing the contrasts of your beautiful Israel.

    • As I mentioned in the previous comment, we were celebrating the holiday of Purim, which features costumes. So I tried to get into the Purim spirit here. Bach is one of my great consolations in life. I find his music inspiring always, and often choose to listen to him when I’m a little down, because he brings everything back to their proper proportions. So glad you liked these scenes of my homeland, Cathy. It is a great pleasure for me to share them.

  20. My, you’re in a reflective mood, Shimon! 🙂 Winter does that to us, I think. I like the view from your windows very much. And, I love watching Nechama watch the comings and goings outside. She will enjoy the windows too. I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s illness. Be careful on your journey to him. The pastoral scenes with the sheep and goats are wonderful. I enjoyed the easy flow of this post. Well done.

    • Yes, winter does affect me that way, George. It gives us pause. I too, am very happy with these windows. And Nachama is out and out enthusiastic about them. You know, cats like to watch things from high in a tree… and this way she can have the tree experience while still being very protected. So glad you enjoyed the post.

  21. What strikes me about this post is the rhythm of it. The sentences move on like poetry, a little bit of an image, a brief stillness, another image, stillness, such a graceful rhythm! A pleasure as always.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, bluebrightly. It is of course, especially sweet to be appreciated by someone whose work we admire. I’m happy you enjoyed the post.

  22. Yikes, I didn’t even realize it was just Purim–good thing I have your blog! I celebrated that as a child and would dress up as Queen Esther, of course. 🙂 Well, I hope you enjoyed yourself and ate some hamentaschen. I also realized I haven’t visited forever–it’s all these ridiculous appointments that leave me even more exhausted.

    The rainy pictures look like my hometown. I guess you get used to it and I lived there until I was 28, but it really is depressing and you’re always wet and it’s hard to keep your eyes open 10 months out of the year, so then you spend all your money on strong espresso. I don’t think it would be for you, Shimon.

    The shepherds reminded me of my thoughts that goat herders might be the deepest thinkers of them all–I remembered all those shepherds in the Torah, too.

    Do you have goats that climb trees in Israel? I’ve seen that before, but in a photo of an Argan tree. Have you heard of American women’s obsession with Argan oil thanks to the corporations we have who stick it in everything now? I find it funny as I went to Morocco years before this trend and brought roasted, Argan oil home with me in a 2 liter-sized soda bottle on the plane, but if only these women buying products with the miracle power of Argan oil actually knew the Argan fruit goes through a goat’s digestive system before they can put its oil on their face or hair I think they’d run for the shower. Well, supposedly they harvest it directly from the tree for culinary/cosmetic purposes now, but I wouldn’t bet on that. I had it the old fashioned way that the Berbers make it and am still alive. 🙂

    Leah x

  23. does she see,
    that earnest cat,
    the green hills and the flowers
    to be?

    or how rain,
    tears from the sky,
    comes to water the world set
    to be?

    does she wish
    for the colors
    of last year or new ones yet
    to be?

    or maybe,
    that earnest cat,
    sees but the promise of mice
    to be.

  24. I agree with bluebrightly… I really enjoy reading this beautiful post. Stay warm, Mr. Shimon. Wish your friend get well.

    • Thank you very much, Amy. We are nearing the end of winter, and soon will be able to enjoy spring. I love both the spring and summer. There is so much beauty in the land.

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