Tag Archives: neighborhood

rainy day


at the bottom of the stairs coming out from my apartment

For some time now, I’ve been planning to take a walk in the rain. But every time it rains, I find an excuse not to do so on that day. I do enjoy a nice clear sunny day, with a few clouds in the blue sky, that’s what I like best. That’s when I wink at the camera. And though I remember that I have enjoyed walking in the rain… and despite actually feeling the need of the ground to get that rain, and am happy to see it come down; for some reason or other, it always seems most appropriate to watch it from the windows of my salon. This last week though, hearing of the cold front in Europe, and imagining the snow piled high in cities usually known for their moderate weather, the urge to take a walk in the rain couldn’t be contained.


And so, off I went one morning this week, to enjoy the wintry mood of my neighborhood. It looks like we aren’t going to get any snow this year. We are blessed with snow some winters, but this is the latest that it has snowed in my memory, and if it doesn’t snow till the Purim holiday, I figure we’re going to miss it this year. Maybe it was exhausted over Europe.


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve started a number of posts, each time interrupted by some unexpected event. I would put the half written article aside, and by the time I sat down to write again, I’d be thinking of something else, and start writing a different post. And so it went till now. Knowing that today was Purim, and I would go downtown to see how the young folks were celebrating, I decided to take a few pictures from my recent ‘walk in the rain’ and publish that before missing another Friday. Wouldn’t want you thinking that I’d forgotten my virtual friends.


These shots were taken down at the corner, the first little commercial center I reach when I come down from my home on the hill, to see a bit of the neighborhood or buy few household necessities for day to day living. The sculpture you see has been recently added to our environment here. I consider it post modern sculpture, because it is devoid of pretension, and only asks to remind me of certain images in the most abstract way. The colors seem to have been chosen in the lightest of moods. I look at these images, sometimes seated on a bench opposite them, and they impress me as doodles in mid air, meant mainly for my amusement.


Aside from the pizza parlor, a very good hamburger restaurant and an Iraqi bakery on the corner itself, there is also a supermarket, a liquor store and a snack bar just around the corner not seen in these pictures here. When in the need for basics, this is where I go. We’ve had a few new stores open for business but then close down after a short time, unable to find a constituency here I suppose, and I’m always sorry to see them leave. It would be nice if I had the widest variety of choices close to home, because I really prefer to go shopping on foot.


But when I do want to go the distance, there is no shortage of public transportation. We’re close to the light train, and have a number of city buses that can take me to any destination I might choose. I have given up driving. and though there are some disadvantages, I feel as if I’ve been relieved of a great weight. Even so, the end result is that I travel less.


I was on my way to the promenade park where I like to meet with my hyrax friends. But I really didn’t expect to see any there. They don’t usually appear in the rain. I did see one, eyeing me from behind a bush. I suppose he was one of the watchman who come and check out a site before the whole tribe shows up. He seemed even more reticent than they usually are. We’ll have to put off our meeting till the next sunny day. Still, I did manage to get a few winter pictures to share with you. I’ll attach them to another post. And who knows, maybe I’ll get around to finishing up one of those posts I started.


And today, Friday, it’s Purim, the holiday of masks. We’ve had good luck and the weather forecast promises a sunny day. The children… and a few of the braver adults will be able to walk around in costume. I might get a few shots of that. Sending you all my very best wishes from Jerusalem.


P.S. Just got back from downtown. Lots of fun. So I’m adding this picture for Mary, who complained that I never have people in my pictures. This should be seen as an apology, and compensation of sorts. Boy, were there a lot of people at the center of town today! And now I’m off to get ready for the holy Sabbath, my friends. There is more to come…


Autumn in Talpiot


For many here in Jerusalem, autumn begins with the bloom of the squill, one of our favorite wild flowers, which appears miraculously on the hills surrounding our city, and between our homes and business establishments.


When I was a young man, traveling and learning about the world of other peoples and nations, far away from my own… I’d come upon a new city or town unknown to me… I would walk for hours, getting to know the place by foot. My pleasure back then, was visiting the alleys and the back streets, the parks and the libraries, the bars and the night clubs, where I met the local people and listened to their music.


As I mentioned a while back, my dear friend Chana recently moved back to Jerusalem, back from the pastoral village where I was staying with her during the grand move. She set up her new home in Talpiot, where I used to live some fifty years ago. And in recent weeks I’ve been walking around the neighborhood, rediscovering the area from a new perspective, and after the changes of a half a century. I’ve met some very gracious and interesting human beings, and a lot of fascinating animals.


I had the pleasure of discovering that there’s a whole colony of brightly colored parrots who’ve made their home in our city, and what a surprise it was to see them sitting as a group in a number of trees close to her home, speaking in tongues and sounding like no other birds I’ve known. No photos yet, but I’m sure I’ll capture them eventually.


The dominant birds in this neighborhood are the crows. You can see them everywhere. The doves, who are just as common, give them due respect. They fear the crows who are smarter than them and more aggressive. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking through an area of luscious green vegetation between two blocks of houses, where there are some installations meant for children’s play, and a few benches most appropriate for a read outside when a city dweller such as I has spent too much time closed in.


I saw three cats eating cat food that had been placed on the pavement surrounding the slide and the locomotive, looking as if it had been built of Lego blocks and meant for play. The cat food had been placed in neat piles, and the cats seemed quite satisfied with the offering. But there were three crows perched on a railing above, watching every move of the cats. I found a good place on a nearby bench and watched them… wondering if the crows were planning to attack the cats. They enjoyed their food and paid no attention to the birds above them. Eventually, when the cats were sated, they left some of the food behind as they went off to take a leisurely walk along the path by which I had arrived. Then the crows descended, joined by friends and relatives, to finish off the repast.


Later that day… I went out with Chana to have pizza at a neighborhood diner, next to a local grocery store. There were just two men sitting at a table in the cold night… we took another. One of the men noticed I was photographing, and asked why. We got into a conversation, and after a while he pulled an old sheet of paper out of his pocket, folded and worn. He gave it to us to read. It was poetry, well metered and carefully rhymed. A song commemorating wasted youth. After we praised it, we were allowed to read another. This, a love poem hinting unrequited love. Your writing?, I asked. Yes, he said… that’s my name on the bottom line.


Two women walked by with a dog. The younger of the two men exchanged a few words with them. But they didn’t linger. The dog was impatient. He had places to go… things to see… We too, left after a while. It had been a good dinner, and another taste of the neighborhood.

back in the city

a pigeon at my window

See the city as an allegory of the human being… working up from the ground… the toes are less sensitive and agile, perhaps, than the fingers… it’s hard to play piano with the toes… but they hug the ground, and sense the direction, sometimes finding ecstatic pleasure in dew wetted grasses along the way… sometimes pushing hard leather shoes in rhythm along the path, or up the stairs… or through the great halls unknowingly… sometimes safely ensconced in open air sandals, like Hollywood actors driving by California beaches in open convertibles, when the world is their picnic, and there’s no where to go but forward…


To what fine detail should I describe this allegory… should we move from toes to ankles, or from toes to knees… there is more in this story than a blog post might allow. The knees alone might deserve a day’s worth of praise… guiding our toes so skillfully while maintaining balance up above, bearing our weight bravely, yet ready at any moment to push us up stairs (if we haven’t chosen to blissfully ascend on the escalator), or kick our feet in joy or competition… ah the knees of the ‘weak knees’ fame, not to speak of the trembling knees, and the knees bent in supplication, bent in prayer… or the knee raised to hammer the privates of an abuser or harasser… kneed by the jolly secretary on the fourth floor who always wore her skirts above the knees.


and still, we haven’t gotten to the rump, the bum, the buns, the butt… is that great organ there just for looks, or does it have some function? And what of the internal organs… those that are used incessantly and others that are barely noticed until they stumble and fail… the ones with charisma, and those modest seldom spoken of… not to speak of that molar you’ve been avoiding every time you chomp on Asiatic stir fried, adorned with peanuts… Nor have we mentioned the mind, which is a universe in itself, going on and on, carried by all those external and internal organs… a vast repository of sensory awareness, complicated beyond numbers by ideas, ideals, and attitudes… and the city… yes, the city is an allegory of all of that.

a small neighborhood park

The city with its blood vessels and nerve endings, and bars and hamburger eateries, and gambling booths, and homes, and factories, and schools and churches, synagogues and mosques, and meeting houses, and court rooms… the gardening supply center across the street, the parks, the little islands of flowers in the middle of some streets, the grocery stores, the libraries… the elaborate storehouses for out of season and no longer wanted objects… the restaurants and hot dog stands… all of it built in the image of its creator… and I, walking through the streets of my neighborhood, the patchwork of repaired asphalt on asphalt, squares of soft tar dissolving into the ribbon of pavement weaving at times and winding at others, between the new homes and old… girded by bushes purchased for their ever-green reliability, or their occasional flowers… sometimes their fruit… finding neighborhoods within the neighborhood, like a story within the story… stopping to have lunch with a lady friend in an Italian restaurant that serves blond on blond pizza… no smoking is allowed, but they’ve got a little garden out back, where I could, if I wanted, poison myself for a few minutes with the out of favor smoke…

gambling booth

A few trees here and there, some raising their lofty heads above the buildings but not so high as to interfere with the lofty imaginations of my fellow citizens as they amuse themselves with abstract images of the nature of paradox, and ideas of transcending the envelope in the amassing of money, or the expression of love. ‘Hi, Shimon’, says Yaron, when I walk in to buy a soup ladle from him… ‘still haven’t gotten the coffee grinder to work?’ he asks… He can’t help but laugh when he sees me, ‘cause I gave him an opportunity for his favorite joke when he offered me that cheap electric coffee grinder. I had asked him if he had anything more expensive. he said, ‘I can charge you more for it, if you like… but that’s the coffee grinder I’m selling today’.

we have them too

The city, and everything in it, which is more than we’ll ever know… and this one in particular, which is as old as history itself, and filled with the wisdom and nonsense of generations upon generations… like the dust that has accumulated on the curtains by my window… generations of dust… all an allegory of the human being… and I, a character in a story within a story, conclude my day with the traditional meal in honor of the new year of the trees…

a story within a story

Yes, that was yesterday… we in Jerusalem celebrate the new year of trees according to our ancient lunar calendar. And to celebrate that day, I was eating almonds mixed with raisins, as we do, here in Jerusalem, and watching the birds fly above, from tree to tree higher at times than the buildings… I followed their flight, and then lowered my head to the alley cat, sitting on the hood of a parked car with closed eyes… luxuriating in the warmth of that engine recently turned off… cats know a few things about parked cars… and I could only guess at his thoughts then and there. Was he sanctifying wholeness? Perhaps… for wholeness is one of the names of Jerusalem.

sitting on the hood of a car, with eyes closed