skies and fields

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We were a little south of Jerusalem last week, looking at the flowers and the trees in a nature reserve. It occurred to me that in springtime the flowers are sometimes so plentiful that we don’t really examine them as individuals. Both flowers and trees can become pleasant backgrounds, taken for granted.

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In contrast to that scenery, let us take a look at the skies and fields a little to the north of Jerusalem, in the county of Benjamin. Often seen as a background to human activity, when focused upon for their own beauty, we can see the counterpoint of images, as if in conversation: the boulders at the edge of the field and the little clouds above, lighter, but still like individual rock clouds of heaven.

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I let my eyes wander across the sky, looking at the arrangement of the clouds. Usually I need the horizon to enjoy a picture… but just this once, I lose myself in the story of the clouds. The skies change dramatically, sometimes every few minutes. There are heavy cloud banks that hang on for a while, filtering the light differently… and then the scene changes again as time goes by.

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Down below, on solid ground, the rocks and boulders give way to a grove of olive trees. Between those rocks you’ll find soft greenery, tempting and luscious to the goats and sheep that graze there, and to the gazelle, a native life form on our land. The gazelles run over the rocks without hesitation… they know how to dance across the rough terrain.

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And the olive trees; they too are native to our land. The fruit of those trees have been part of our daily meal for generations and centuries. They’ve provided the oil for our lamps since the beginning of recorded history. They’re so common, so much part of the scenery, that they too often taken for granted.

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69 responses to “skies and fields

  1. Great pics Simon. Enjoy your spring.

  2. Beautiful photographs and your expressions great touching for a lovely day in Spring. I felt as I was there too… Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice day and weekend, love, nia

    • Thank you so much for your good wishes and friendship, Nia. I am sure that you too are enjoying this season, with all its delights. Best wishes always.

  3. Our region in British Columbia, Canada, is very arid and full of rocks. When I plant my flowers I know I will hit rock and need to dig them out first before putting in good soil and my flowers. A bit like Jerusalem, we enjoy that ‘golden city’ light when the setting or rising sun hits the rocky terrain. And I have come to love those rocks, as I also did in Israel. The desert regions of your land, like Ha-He’etekim, hold an arresting, heart-stoppingly stark beauty–so bold, like your people. It took my breath away. Olive trees are stubborn and tenacious–able to withstand almost anything and still grow, still produce, some trees great ages old. This antediluvian land holds in its very being the living symbols of what it demands of its people–those it has shaped–to endure along with it being stripped of everything, including water, the essentials–while producing those jewel-like wild flowers which thrive and have an impetuous elan in the midst of their struggle to survive. How fortunate, how challenging, how elemental is your place in this world.
    ! לחיים

    • Thank you very much for your eloquent blessing, Lance. I did visit your part of the world about 50 years ago, and was very impressed by the landscape. Though I have to admit that my eyes were more drawn to your beautiful parks than they were to the rocky nature. And I agree that a closeness to the land helps us develop a healthy relationship and an awareness of our place in this world.

  4. Hello Shimon! Beautiful photos. I so love the contrast between the ‘fluffy’ clouds and the cragginess of the rocks. Just lovely.

  5. So beautiful, so much untouched land as far as the eyes can see.

  6. A wonderful sense of the steady, slow turning of the world in these relaxing but stunning shots, thank you Shimon.

    • My pleasure, Patti. It does seem sometimes, when we’re overexposed to the clamor of our fellow humans, that we can lose perspective. It’s good then, to let our eyes rest on the bigger things.

  7. I see you are getting out & about now that spring is slowly drifting into summer, lucky you 🙂
    I on the other hand have started looking for places above the 5000’ft range – anything that avoids the heat of Muscat upper 30s.C.

    David.

    • Yes, the higher altitudes have a lot to offer here in the middle east. I consider myself very lucky to be living on a mountain, here in Jerusalem. My best wishes to you for a very enjoyable spring… and many enlightening heights, David.

  8. I need to learn from the gazelles. How do they dance across rough terrain? I need to think about that.
    Today we were studying a ‘green pastures’ text in the Bible. It’s so good to have images of the real thing.
    Maybe resting in green pastures and dancing across rough terrain have something in common?

    • I have to admit, Gill, that I do tend to get used to things… and take things for granted at times. And then there’s the need to refresh my perspective. But the sight of the gazelles running across a field is always a new and wondrous experience for me. One can’t get used to that. It’s just amazing.

      • I understand what you are saying about the gazelles always bringing a smile to your face. In my yard I have a group of 23 wild turkeys that parade through each evening. I always find joy in watching them and counting them to see that they are all still there.

  9. What a beautiful contemplation and reflection you’ve offered, Shimon, so perfectly illustrated by your photography. I love the contrast and echo that exists between the clouds and rocks, the resting place offered by the green spaces between the rocks, and the relief of olive groves…I enjoyed imagining elegant gazelles leaping across the landscape, too: such a treasure your land is to the earth. Thank you…

    • Yes Kitty, this season is really nature’s wake up call. And there are so many reminders of the worlds outside our own human busyness. Everywhere we look there is awakening. I loved your post too, this week, with a scientific view of nature’s wonders. What a pleasure it is to share our varied viewpoints.

  10. Beautiful. It feels familiar.

  11. You are not only looking, but seeing, as we all should. Thank you, Shimon.

  12. How lovely! I’ve always loved the trunks of the olive trees, the knots and twists. We have an ana apple in our yard; they were developed to survive in Israel and the only apple that is able to survive in our desert heat. Thanks for sharing your beautiful countryside.

    • It’s true, Judy, that apples seem to be most delicious when growing in a relatively cold climate. I remember many years ago, being enthralled by some of the apples I found in far away countries. But it turns out that modern technology is not just the amazing advances of the telephone. There have been some really wonderful developments in agriculture too. And very tasty discoveries.

  13. Yes, the familiar can often become too familiar, but when we stop to appreciate its beauty, it can become special and even magical. Your landscapes and clouds remind me of my own American Southwest, Shimon. Rugged, arid and rocky, they evoke a special kind of beauty.

    • I think that’s one of our biggest weaknesses, Cathy. Because of our desire for security, we like the comfort of routine. And easily become used to things… take things for granted. Then it’s so advantageous to take a trip, or purposely break the routine. I remember when traveling in the US, I was overcome by the great variety of natural beauty in your country. And I did visit the southwest, and saw some places that reminded me of my own country. But your country is so big! It seems impossible to ever really know it.

  14. Lovely photos, Shimon. Thank you for sharing the world through your eyes.

  15. Very poetic. I enjoyed this very much.

  16. There is a time in Spring when all the colours seem to merge together into a haze of delight. And talking about the sky, I was looking up into it a few hours ago on a windy day and strips of cloud were being teased out into wispy strands; what we call ‘Mares Tails’. I thought how beautiful they were.

    • Thank you, Andy, for introducing me to that name, ‘Mares Tails’. I love it. Sometimes, here in the city, I get so caught up with the affairs of man, that I forget the big picture, and so it’s wonderful to be reminded by the change of seasons.

  17. I did enjoy your beautiful blue skies and those rich looking rocks…..Rock clouds of heaven, this is so lovely! I can’t get enough of the sky, clouds have always fascinated me. Those olive trees look ancient, I have two small ones in pots, one day I’m hoping for olives, one of my favourite treats!xxx

    • Actually, those olive trees aren’t ancient. The really old ones have much wider trunks. But olive trees can live a very long time. And like yourself, I love the taste of olives which are plentiful around here. I’ve never seen an olive tree in a pot though, and I wonder if you can get fruit from them. But I’m sure they would grow well in your beautiful garden, if you could protect them from the animals. Spring greetings, Dina. xxx

  18. We live in a beautiful world from the flowers on the ground to the clouds in the sky. I, too, enjoy getting lost in the clouds and love to watch them change as they drift above me.

  19. What an interesting clutch of metaphors with lovely visuals.

    Two days ago I was talking to a friend about the many free flowering plants to be found around Jerusalem and other places in Israel at this time of year. What generated the topic of conversation was stopping by a local church for a cup of coffee. As Easter has just passed, I was shown a relevant scene that had been created out of local grasses and mosses which, had been displayed for the festival. “It would be nothing like the actual flora and fauna to be found just now in Jerusalem” I said. The conversation went on from there.

    • Yes, we are very lucky here in Jerusalem. We even have wild flowers in winter. But when spring comes, one can feel the regeneration. There’s excitement in the air. And Easter and Passover were at the same time. How good it is to rejoice together, menhir.

      • Rejoicing together is a warm thought Shimon, however, I am not sure if that would have been a major focus; not being a member of the Church congregation, I do not know what they did within their worship. What I can be sure of is, that two people, my friend and I, did think about the joint celebration time as a result of the conversation we had.

        The crucifixion scene, with three empty white crosses atop a mound was, as mentioned, carefully and beautifully executed from locally found greenery. Without the mounted crosses, the work would have been a lovely model of some of our familiar scenery. What immediately struck me on seeing the scene, was that societies do appear in all well known art works to recreate things in their own image and what is familiar to them.
        xx

  20. I like the way you went from boulders to “rock clouds of heaven.”

  21. I thought it odd to see all those rocks seeming to be put there manually, and wonder why. They are of stange nature to me. Volcanic?
    Be well Shimon.

    • For almost two thousand years, the majority of the Jews were in exile. During that time, much of the country was either abandoned or abused. There were occasional nomads who took advantage of the vegetation as food for their goats and sheep. But there was very little caring agriculture. As a result, there was terrible erosion of the soil. With the return of the Jews about a hundred years ago, there was an immense project of earth healing. The rocks you see have been moves as part of reclaiming the field for agriculture. It is an ongoing process. But we already enjoy the fruits of this work. And both fruit and agricultural technology are now exported from our country to other countries of the world. Thanks for asking, Bob.

  22. “rock clouds of heaven”

    Beautiful images, and imagery. A piece of poetry, with illustrations. Evocative and complete. Very nice.

    I’m one of those people that happens to love stones, in various shapes and sizes, so it was a real treat to see some photos of the beautiful clusters of large stones against the sky. I’ve been known to spend long periods of time examining the striations and colors imbedded within these solid soldiers that mark the passing of time. Lovely.

    • I can’t say that I’m really a lover of rocks. But when my two daughters were children, they used to collect them. And so I tried to appreciate their finds. Occasionally, though, I was intimidated by their weight. Of course, there are many things that we learn to appreciate, when seen in proper perspective. Glad you enjoyed the post, Nancy. And best spring wishes to you.

  23. “…but just this once, I lose myself in the story of the clouds.” Your tribute to Springtime is a treasure to the heart Shimon. Sharon

    • Thank you for your kind words, Sharon, Being further north, it might take a little longer to warm up, but wishing you and yours a very beautiful and warm spring.

  24. A lovely post Shimon! I love the contemplative mood!

  25. Thank you for the skies and fields, beautiful photos and words, Mrs. Shimon! Eloquent story of the clouds… Enjoy reading this post.

  26. We all take things for granted. Big things and little things; important things and trivial things. It is only when we take the time to study things individually that we gain knowledge and information and can take that from the individual to the many.

    The photographs are lovely, as usual.

  27. This is very beautiful. I love how the clouds in the sky have a visual congruence with the scattered rocks. There is a great sense of spaciousness here – of opening out. Spring. New beginnings. I wish you joy, Shimon, since, despite life’s setbacks, you know how to embrace it.

    • Thank you very much Tish. I appreciate your comment. And there is great joy in springtime, and a sense of renewal that gives us strength. Best wishes to you.

  28. I love your pictures Shimon, especially the scattered clouds in the sky one. Thank you. Hugs x

    • Very sweet of you, Jane, and I do love your pictures too. Looking through your eyes, I often have a sense of great familiarity, even if I’ve never been there. Thanks.

      • Shimon, what a lovely thing to say ‘Thank you’. I hope you have a lovely day, hugs flowing to you. x

  29. J’aime rester au lit et r
    Pourtant, remercier le Seigneur, je ne suis pas encore mort.

  30. I missed one word,reve…
    Je me plaisais à rester au lit et rêve ,

  31. I love the parallels in the clouds and the rocks ~

    • Thank you very much, Birder. It has been a real pleasure getting to know you… not that I know you that well, yet. But I really enjoy your work, and appreciate your modesty.

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