it takes a village

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Always had this romantic love for the country… It was half a century ago, and I was on my way to visit a friend in a little village up north. I was used to buses that ran every few minutes, back in the city. Hadn’t occurred to me to check the bus schedule. So here I was, out in the country, after the big intercity bus had let me off… waiting… and no bus came by. I slipped my bag over my shoulder and started walking along the country road. What did it matter if it took me an hour… or even three. I was young, and the day was beautiful. I could walk.

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After I’d walked for about a half an hour, I heard the sound of a tractor coming down the road. It wasn’t moving fast, and you could hear it a long way off. I turned around and watched as it approached. Made the sign of the hitch hiker, and he slowed down to a stop. “Where you going?” he called out to me over the noise of the tractor. It was a big one, and it towered over me. I told him the name of the village I was headed towards. “I’m going to the same place,” he said. “But you’d have to sit on this dirty fender, and you’ve got your Sabbath suit on”. I’m not worried about that, I said, and with a smile, got up on the fender and rode the rest of the way. It was like visiting heaven. There was nothing I didn’t like about the place.

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bomb shelter

In the years that followed, I never got over the love I had for that beautiful piece of country. We even lived there for a while. But my darling wife couldn’t appreciate it the way I did, so we went back to the big city. That wasn’t hard for me, because I was part of Jerusalem too, as she was part of me. But there was something about living in the country that left me with a great longing for that kind of life.

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play car at the kindergarten

This was long before people started having ‘virtual’ experiences, and living the virtual life. But even back then, the difference was profound. I felt an intensity in the country life that made the colors more brilliant and the earth under my feet more immediate. There was an intimacy with nature that was always with me. I could listen to the plants growing… hear the flies as they flew in the air. I always had the feeling that it was a better place to bring up children. When you live in a village, you get to know a lot of people, all of whom are contributing something to the welfare of the general population.

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art

It isn’t as abstract as living in the city. You actually get to know people and the way they work… what they do all day. That’s the benefit of a real community. When you grow up with people you meet every day, you get a more realistic example of what can be gained in this life. You might get to know the garage mechanic and the barber, the horse trainer and the scholar. You see them working. You see a working man or woman on their feet from morning to night, and the farmer repairing fences. When you try helping with the chores for a neighbor or a professional in town, you get something of an idea of whether their work would interest you, whether you could really figure out the sort of problems that they have to deal with all the time.

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The photos here are from the same village… taken just a few years ago. Time moves a little slower there. The society I got to know there has changed a lot. But the village itself still carries traces of its past. And the people too, aren’t quite as up to date as we are in the city.

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67 responses to “it takes a village

  1. looks like a wonderful place, there is nothing like a small village to bring calm and slow the pace down. Shabbat Shalom

    • It was a romantic love of youth, Lisa Elisheva. Having spent a life time in Jerusalem, I really have no complaints. But to this day I have the feeling that there is a basic simplicity about the country life that is good for the soul. A gut woch to you.

  2. I can see why the village tugs on your senses, Shimon. Cities can be exciting. They have energy. Bigness.Edge. Lots of variety and things unknown. And there are times when anonymity is beguiling. But perhaps the human sensibilities are better attuned to village life, to be embraced, as you say, by that sense of community: the shared experience and local history. Lovely photos

    • Thanks very much, Tish. I realize there are a lot of advantages to the city. Especially having all your needs easily accessible. And one might say that the different neighborhoods in our city are a bit like villages themselves. Though it is hard to keep a goat or a horse around. Still, I have no complaints. I had a good life. And I suppose we all long for something we don’t have.

      • Yes longing for something we don’t have. On the other hand it can help us evaluate/value what we do have; and sometimes what we think we want would really only suit us for 5 minutes. Perhaps this all harps back to a time in human development when we were nomadic, and occupied seasonal sites to exploit different kinds of food. Hm. Time to be off to the oyster-collecting beach, or the salmon-trapping river, and then to the big winter gathering to refresh the cave paintings…:)

  3. Very nice. Love the photos!

  4. I love villages and village life. Citites are not for me, dear Shimon. But what’s happening at the end (at least in my country) villages change and become like a small city!!!! For a village to be a city is important. How wrong, village is a village… Thank you dear Shimon, as always it was enjoyable to read your memories, thoughts, and also to see your photographs. Have a nice day and weekend, love, nia

    • You’re right, Nia. Everything changes, and as time goes by, the changes are faster and faster. In revisiting that old village that I had fallen in love with many years ago, I saw changes that would have saddened me had I been living there. And in general. the move is towards the city style now. People all over want to live with the advantages of city life. I suppose it’s nostalgia on my part that I still think of the village as an ideal. Thanks for the comment, and have a very beautiful week. We’ve got stormy weather right now.

  5. Lovely, thank you for sharing.

  6. Living in the country indeed offers many advantages which can be painfully missed in the city. I love how, with time, you become part of a community in which people care for each other and being close to nature truly is awesome! On the other hand the city offers exhibitions, museums, movie theaters and you are close to all administration offices in case you have to run such errands. This represents a dilemma for us as well since we plan to move soon, maybe to a not so big city trying to have the best of both worlds? cheating is allowed 🙂 Shabbat shalom! thank you for sharing these amazing photographs with us.

    • That sort of cheating is definitely allowed. The truth is that at this stage of mankind’s development, and especially because of population growth, there is a constant move from the country to the city. It is much more economical and practical to provide the infrastructure to people in the city. And some cities provide a very pleasant environment. I agree with all the points you mention. Shavuah tov to you. Thanks for your comment, Labelle.

  7. a connection to the land and a community is a real treasure

    • I have to admit that a community is easily found in my city, but the connection to the land and nature is what I miss. Still I have no reason to complain. Thanks for the comment, Chas.

  8. Country Mouse and City Mouse:

    “Goodbye,” said the country mouse, “You do, indeed, live in a plentiful city, but I am going home where I can enjoy my dinner in peace.”

  9. It’s so true, Shimon. Living in a small community affords one a different kind of education. I love your shots of this peaceful place.

    • So glad you liked this piece, Cathy. But I’m very aware that each of the alternatives has a lot of good points.One of the things I’ve had to resign myself to, is that we can’t have it all. But there’s always vacations.

  10. A delightful post! I’ve lived in villages too, but am not so fond of them … even in the 60s, when I was growing up in one, most of the large expensive houses were lived in by retired army and navy personnel. It was a bijou English village with a green and a duckpond. These days so many people living in villages are commuters, and many don’t take much interest in the locality. Not true of all, of course! I’m pleased that your memories are happy ones.

    • I’m lucky that I have some very sweet memories of the country life, Gill. But I can’t complain because I’ve had it very good. And in any case, villages have changed so much over the half a century. I am always amazed when I visit. So many of the features I loved have disappeared in the sweep towards modernity. Thanks for the comment.

  11. Enjoy walking through this village with you, Mr. Shimon. I have seen many peaceful towns and villages are changing fast in our area, some are even unrecognizable…

    • Those changes you mention, Amy… it’s very true. I’ve noticed them myself. I suppose when we dip into our memories we confuse geography and physical circumstances with time as well… and there’s this nostalgia for the way things were at a certain moment. But I do enjoy going out to the country when I have some vacation time. Thanks.

  12. Thanks for the breath of fresh air. 🙂

  13. What a dreamy village. Such lovely photos, Shimon.

    I grew up in suburbs and cities, and longed to be in the country, so I’ve been so very happy at Full Moon, but I also need cities nearby, so I can get my fill of their energy, museums, restaurants, and sights, periodically. The internet and excellent libraries we have here are also blessed gifts for country life. I’ve found being near a city (30 minutes or an hour away) also ensures a few liberal-minded people/artists will live in the surrounding country, too, which makes the mix more pleasurable for me. But I wouldn’t give up my trails, woods, owls, foxes, river, gardens and quiet for anything. 🙂

    Thanks for helping me review my choices and blessings, Shimon; as always, your posts lead me to reflection…

    • How nice that you mention libraries. I spent so much time in libraries a few years back, before the internet. Now I don’t visit so much. But what you say about the advantages of cities is very true. And I have to admit that I had a very good life in the city. I suppose I wanted both; the advantages of the city, and the closeness to nature that is part of living in the country. Now I do have it in a way. Because most of my children and grandchildren live in the country, and visiting them does bring me all the pleasures I missed. Thank you very much for your comment, Kitty.

  14. We have lived in a small village for many years but recently moved to a more urban environment for a while, although our roots are still back home. I have thought about what you have written many times when comparing the lifestyles and it is the sense of worth that comes from being immersed in a small community, as you identify in your post, that I miss the most.
    Best wishes..

    • I suppose there is good luck and bad luck in every situation. There are many people in the world who worry just about putting food on the table, and so they don’t consider whether they’ll have a library close by, or what the view will be from their window. It often seems that the better things are for us, the more choosy we become. And so, I have to say that I am very grateful for the good luck I’ve had. But no matter how good we have it, we usually think about what might be still better. Thanks very much for your comment, mybrightlife. It is very nice to meet you.

  15. I’m guessing I live the life of a small community……12 miles from the nearest neighbour and 100 kms from the nearest store. People not only know each other far better but they are always willing to “neighbour” or help one another. I hope I never take that for granted…..this blessed life I live.

    • It does sound like a very good life. Though your comment on distance reminds me of one of the advantages of city life. I have to admit that one of the things I like about my present environment, is that I can walk to the most essential places on foot. I suppose there are advantages and disadvantages to every style of life. But as people have known all along, the grass seems greener on the neighbor’s lawn. I agree with you, we have to be grateful for all the good we have. Thanks for the comment, Linda.

  16. Very nice post Shimon. I can certainly relate. Brought up in the country, then med school in the city (Philadelphia) then city again (Tampa), and now REal country..Ben Hur Virginia. In a log cabin with all the niceties of a Very modern house. Love your photos. Gave me good feelings….but then, a bomb shelter suddenly brings reality back to life. So sorry it has to be that way, but if it saves lives…Wonderful.

    • Hi Bob. How wonderful that you have such a fine house… a log cabin, with all the modern conveniences. For some time now, I’ve thought you’re living in paradise, especially having seen a few shots from your environment. But yes, every place has its pluses and minuses. I remember seeing some pictures from farm areas in your country, and they has these little structures with a door in it. I asked what that was, and was told that it was a hurricane shelter, under the ground. Well, that’s the way it is. In one place they worry about a hurricane. And in another, it’s bad neighbors. I suppose we have to live with the bad as well as the good. There are people here who think we worry too much about defense. That the best defense is a good offense. War is really a heart breaker. Thanks so much for your comment.

  17. Bob makes a good point about the bomb shelter bringing reality to the fore, even in that lovely and pastoral setting. Jarring reality can be equally evident, if one is observant, in rural or urban settings. Perhaps the lesson is to discover joy wherever you find yourself, but (as we say in the States), cover all your bases. The photos and accompanying descriptions and thoughts were a delight, as always. Thank you, Shimon.

    • Thank you very much Myra. Always so good to hear from you. Yes, it is best to look for the joy, and put the accent on what is good in this life, even if we have to deal with very difficult challenges as well. Very glad you enjoyed the post.

  18. Loved your post and photos. I could totally connect to it (I recently visited my village/town). It’s a whole different environment there, you get lots of time to ponder and just relax. 🙂

    • Maybe because I’m older now, I wish to take more of the time relaxing, and enjoying nature… enjoying the slow and easy pace. But as some of my readers have reminded me, there are many advantages on both sides of the argument. And I am grateful for the good life I’ve had. Thanks very much for your comment, and your smile, Nandini. Very nice to hear from you.

  19. I’m a country boy at heart Shimon. I lived in central London for 15 years and enjoyed it very much but I’m back in the country now. It’s where I yearned to be when I became ill. My mother always says that the perfect combination for her would be a house in the country and an apartment in the city to make the best of both worlds. I think I’d go along with that. Lovely images as always!

    • Yes, I like your mother’s point of view, Chillbrook. I had a dream like that, some years back. Since Jerusalem gets very cold in the winter, I used to think of a winter cabin in the country… somewhere warmer, and then to come back for our very beautiful and moderate summers. But in those days I had so much work all year round, that the ideal was impractical. Now I try to be happy with what I have, and enjoy an occasional vacation. Thanks.

  20. What you write about village life is so true, Shimon. Our last house was in a village – about 1,000 people so not what many would call a village – but it was a community within which I worked as one of the local doctors and over the years one felt very much a part of that community – we belonged – and getting to know all the strands and relationships that bound it together and made it what it was.
    By the time we left that sense of community was dying fast as it became very much a ‘dormitory’ village for mobile people who journeyed to work in the major towns.
    We now live on the edge of a large town, in a small estate of just five houses – a very welcoming small community. But I doubt we will ever feel part of the wider community. It’s a strange feeling but we are content.

    • A thousand people is not really such a large community, Andy. Especially when you’re counting children and old folks. I can imagine that as a doctor, you got to know many of them very well. But it’s true, what you say. There have been a lot of changes in life style over the years, and many of the villages I knew have changed their personality as well. I’ve been following your move, and wish you much luck and happiness in your new home. It sounds quite comfortable, and the pictures of the forest were beautiful.

  21. You have a way of unifying nostalgia with reality–a glimpse of a sweet time that is, because of your photos and words, still very much at the forefront of your being.

    We live in the country but only 15 minutes from a major freeway. It’s odd; here on our acres of olives and oaks, sycamores and squirrels–we do our best to stay focused on the positive, on gratitude. But down the winding road and onto the highway full of tail-gating men in trucks and edgy hostility, well? It’s quite a contrast, to say the least.

    Now, our quiet country road is besot with new immigrants walking up it each day for exercise. Some smile but most just gawk.

    Even our friendly waves do not break through their staring…

    • Oh, it sounds like the good life, Cheri, especially the olives and the oaks, the sycamores and squirrels. Squirrels are very rare in our country. Almost never seen. But we do have some other sweet creatures to charm us. I really don’t care for freeways, though. Over the years, there have been more and more built, and when I travel, I try to avoid them and those super highways as well, because you become so cut off from the countryside. I always feel like a horse with blinders on. Of course, life is changing everywhere, and the population is becoming denser. And many of the young are attracted to cities because of practical advantages. I’ve had great luck, living in a place I loved so much… but even so… the eyes wander from time to time. Thanks for your comment.

  22. Traces of the kibbutz way of life, perhaps? I can and do empathise with your emotional attachments to countryside, your familiarity and belonging to the city and its way of life too.

    There are resonances of clan links in country life as you describe it. Neighbourliness is demonstrated in many forms in both types of environments, but, maybe, it seems more extant in country life

    • Yes, the village I wanted to live in was a kibbutz. But over the years I got to know quite a few little villages, and despite the differences in social administration, they had a lot of things in common. I always found it very attractive to live close to nature. to know my neighbors, and to enjoy a more leisurely pace. But I am also aware that I was lucky, and enjoyed a very good life in a place that I loved. So I am grateful for the good, and enjoy other possibilities when I’m on vacation. Thanks for your comment, Menhir.

  23. After living in the very center of Houston for some years, I began working in a rural Texas town of about 300. When I first moved there, I discovered that the telephones of the post office, the gas station, and the church were on a party line. I was variously amused, perplexed, and horrified. After about a year, I had come to realize the truth: it made no difference. Everyone knew everything worth knowing, anyway. Some people would think that a negative. I don’t, and I’d move back there in a mnute.

    • That is a very amusing story, Linda. But it also reminds me of the ‘good old days’, when more than one family would share a telephone line. And I do remember party lines, and waiting for the other party to get off the line. And that was in the city. In the country, everyone knew everyone else’s business. Some folks found it intolerable, and others found it entertaining. It does provide a literary touch. Those are good memories for me. Now and then, these days, I take the bus downtown. And I am just amazed by some of the conversations I overhear. Everyone has their private phone with them all the time, And often they talk freely about intimate subjects with little care regarding who may hear them. Lots of good stories there.

  24. What a lovely post, it was good to share your memories of such a gentle place, I think being in the country does enlighten us, it’s easy to become detached from nature when in cities….I think it’s vital for our well being to feel earth beneath our feet and see stars above our head, it’s a reminder that we live on this beautiful planet, floating in space and the strangeness of our existence.
    I miss our boat, it was always a pleasure to live on it, and simplify life in general….although long term I suppose I would miss things like electricity etc.

    • For me, the country life was a bit of paradise. You know, in the city, everything is structured, and the ground is covered with cement. It is easy to forget the earth… our beautiful planet, as you describe it. I can imagine that you miss your old boat. I loved it too, even though I just saw pictures. Isn’t it amazing that for thousands of years people lived without electricity, and now we have trouble imagining such a life. My father started his life without it. I think computers are going to revolutionize life in the same way. My grandchildren won’t be able to understand how we lived without them. Always so good to hear from you, Dina. xxx

  25. Sorry…lappie crashed. I was going to add that yes, it does take a village to rise a child! Beautiful pictures, you have me yearning to ride a tractor!xxxxxx

    • My dear Dina, I was just thinking about computers and how dependent we’ve become on them… and here you are in just that predicament. I hope all is well now. We’ve had a minor storm here, and below zero weather, and my first worry was about keeping the battery full on the laptop… just in case! Ha, nature will always surprise us. My best wishes to you. xxx

      • How odd that you were thinking of computers when mine crashed, all is well, it just ran out of battery, I’m hopeless at keeping things charged up.
        How true about our dependencies too, technology is speeding ahead and has already left me behind, I wonder where we will be in ten years, one thing for sure, we’ll be less connected to nature! Hoping you’re warm and the weather improves.xxx

  26. I think the slower pace of life lets us enjoy life and our surroundings more when we venture out into the country. I know I’ve found the same peaceful, romantic vision when I’ve traveled to and through small towns. I often wonder what it would be like to live in a small town. I think that as long as I had my grandsons with me, I would love it, as would they.

    • Yes, it seems to me that the small town or village is especially good for children. They can get into mischief without their parents getting hysterical. And life offers a lot of very interesting adventures. I’ve been following your recent move, Corina, and wish you much success and good luck in your new environment. Thanks so much for your comment.

  27. There’s always something special about the country that a city can never replicate! But like you said, the city has its own charm as well, that a country doesn’t. Two different things entirely, and I like them both, personally 🙂

  28. Good morning dear Shimon…..As you know, I also love the countryside and villages….and this blog gives me a certain yearning for that kind of a place. Like you, I have experienced both the city and the countryside, but ultimately, I do believe that I am a child of nature and country….When Marmite Heaven is revealed you must come and visit:) Have a beautiful day – Janet. xxx

  29. Here, surrounded by noisy cars and talking with my computer I miss my little town, the silent streets and quiet nigths sitting at the back yard talking about any simple thing. Thanks for visiting my site, I feel honored. Your blog is like an open window to a different reality. I enjoyce a lot reading it.

  30. I can understand your nostalgia for living in the village. Living in a rural area you feel as if sky and earth with all beauty of nature belong to you.

  31. Beautiful bit of nostalgia. I can almost smell the roses and leaves, the cooking from the homes; hear the sounds of kids and bicycles passing by.. yofi + toda Shimon.

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