I was told that on Yom Kippur, the streets would be absolutely desolate.  The Day of Atonement is a very solemn Holy Day for Jews, who keep a 25 hour fast.  Yet, a few cars pass by.  Kids shriek as they play on their bikes and toy cars.  And there are a lot of firecrackers.  When I first arrived, I was unsure what to make of the sounds of explosions that punctuated the evening.  I mean, it didn’t exactly reassure me about the security situation here.  It turns out that the people here use a lot of fireworks to celebrate engagements, which, given how many fireworks get set off, means that there must be hordes of fiances filling this city.  But Yom Kippur and fireworks don’t go together so well.  Two theories were circulating about why the day was so noisy.  (1) The Arabs were trying to annoy the Jews or (2) the Jews were celebrating their atonement.  Somehow I find the latter a bit less likely…


Even though I spend most of my time under fluorescent lights in an air conditioned office, I can tell the air is changing.  I no longer fully thaw out on my walk home.  The highs are only in the low eighties.  Yesterday, some clouds hung over Mount Carmel, promising rain with their gray underbellies.  Nothing yet.  When I was walking across the Arc at sunset, I paused to take in the thunderheads poised above the bay, edged with pink.  I wasn’t the only one impressed; I passed two others who pulled out their camera phones to record the sky.  I gave up on using the camera in my phone as it blurs everything, so I try to capture the vista in my mind.

Yesterday I stood on grass for the first time in a while.  It was a small patch of lawn in front of an apartment building.  I rarely have the opportunity to leave the pavement or the gravel paths I take through the gardens to my office.  I need to find a quiet city park and just lie in the grass for a while like I sometimes do, close to the dirt and the bugs and the earth.  Humility, from humus, soil.  Getting close to the soil.  Walt Whitman knew the sanctity of those leaves underfoot:

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic…
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