Leon's No Newsletter 237 Hesitating with a mind full of thoughts.
While writing the title above, the association between “mine” and “mind” occurred to me; just as material substances like gold, silver, coal etc. need to be mined so thoughts need to be mined. Gold is mined by digging into the earth while thoughts are mined by digging into our memories.
I think that the Torah meant us to dig into our memories to revive the thoughts which we’ve had during the past year and in all our past lives, on the festival called New Year (Rosh Hasahana) and that’s why the Torah called it “the day of remembering” (Yom Hazikaron)
Although the results of mining is very satisfying, the work involved in producing those results is so slow and arduous, that, now as I struggle to rouse my thoughts, I feel as if I’m sweating and should wear my new sweat absorbing shirt, which I use, to protect me from the sun during my long distance walks along the many wonderful paths of Israel.
These walks are just a continuation of the walks I started in June; my first walk was in the Gardens of Rothschild’s tomb, near Zichron Yaakov. I wrote about that in my last no newsletter (236).
Since then I’ve been doing a long walk of about 10 KM each week with my friend Avram, who I met at the bus stop, while waiting for the bus to take me to the beginning of a walk, always a problem because there were never any bus stops exactly where the walking path begins and it is usually necessary to walk a km or so along some busy road until finally reaching the beginning of the walking path. Avram was at the bus stop also intending to reach the beginning of a walking path. He’s been doing this for years and has walked practically every path in Israel. Since that day in June I defer to his superior knowledge of walking paths and let him choose the walk and I only find out where exactly we’re going to walk to when I get to the bus stop.
You can see pictures and descriptions of my walks on my website, Jerusalemwalks.com > do it yourself tours> Gorkswalks.
The above mentioned shirt is one of many things I brought back with me from our holiday in Britanny. I went there with Ettie, Avishai, Ittamar and Anat and their little daughter, my cutie pie granddaughter, Noga.
What a job we had getting to the house of Ettie’s friend Irina, who kindly invited us to stay there for 10 days.
Britanny is a massive farming area and we were in the midst of it. Rivers pierce the land so that boats sail from the English Channel deep into the heart of Britanny. Wherever you turn there’s a harbor, like Tréguier, between the Guindy and the Jaudy rivers, or Lézardrieux, upriver on the Trieux, or Paimpol the famous fishing harbor and many more.
We turned off road, D786 and found ourselves in pitch dark, on a small road, nothing more than a narrow tarred track, even smaller than the secondary roads like D70 or D33 where mostly farmers move from their lands to the small villages nearby, like Pleubian or Lezardrieux etc. which was okay because the house is on one of these, a street named Keralis. It was literally like looking for a needle in a haystack in the dark.
Very few cars travel on these roads, but one stopped to offer help. Out stepped a Frenchman (who looked tall to me, although Bretons seem to be quite short) his wife and two sons, good farming people of Britanny, but they spoke nothing but French and I suppose Bretan, the language of the ancient Celts from whom they are descended, in fact they are the native British people who at some early time in history settled Great Britain. Later William the Conquerer returned to conquer Britanny and many of the towns are named after English aristocrats who ruled the farmlands in Medieval times, like Treguier, named after Count Stephen of Tréguier, the second Earl of Richmond.
I regretted that I didn’t speak French. The mother, drew a map on the back of a copy of a lecture that my friend, Prof. Haim Marantz had given me to read on the flight, but that didn’t help. I spoke a bit of German to one of the kids, who said he was learning German at school, but that also wasn’t much use. We all raised our hands in exasperation and decided that the only thing for it was to call Irina, in Israel, who speaks French, to explain to the kindly Bretan farmer how to get to her house. This done he happily told us to follow him and his family all piled back into his car and in a few minutes of following we reached Keralis and the charming, little farmhouse, which Irina had named Chez Shai, after her granddaughter.
I had another occasion to ask directions of a friendly Bretan, when Ettie and I were trying to find the Glann ar Mor whiskey distillery in the village of Pleubian, overlooking one of the river inlets from the sea, named Sillon de Talbert because of a long, narrow geological formation, called a Sillon.
I understood that he was in a great hurry and couldn’t stop to direct us, but he waved in the direction we should go and we soon found the distillery. Disappointingly it seemed closed and we decided that they were out to lunch, because everyone in Britanny eats lunch between one and two. So we decided that we too would have lunch and then return to try and enter again. One doesn’t easily give up the chance of visiting a whiskey distillery.
We parked at the edge of the Sillon to eat our bread rolls and cheese and drink wine, while we watched for the incoming tide, one of the especially beautiful scenes to enjoy in many places in Britanny, but it was early and all we could see before us were boats lying scattered on the dry rocky river bed, waiting for the tide to come in, which would be at about 6 PM. I passed the time walking among the boats and taking pictures. When we thought lunch time had ended we returned to the job of finding the whiskey.
I tried the door of the distillery again, this time a lady appeared and showed me how to push the door hard and it opened. The owner is a friend of Ettie’s friend Irina (she knows how to pick her friends) and being thrilled to meet us opened every possible kind of whiskey for us to taste, I tasted and tasted and tasted, all good 50% but amazingly remained sober. I purchased a bottle for my son Ariel, who appreciates good whiskey and who I usually join for a drink on Fridays at his home in Kiriat Ono.
I had planned to go for a walk each day, as is my custom at home, but everyone else planned to go to the farmers market which took place in a different village each day. This was an excellent way to see the country so I decided to compromise and went along.
I watched the family make purchases and roam the market, which was full of all kinds of food, straight from the farmer; big, round cheeses, roasted meats, fresh red radishes, bright orange carrots, red fish, grey fish, silver fish, still squiggling in the vain hope of returning to the river. Avishai, our chef, was making his choices for our evening meal.
I never cease to be amazed at how much time my family is capable of wandering around markets and shops. Even Noga has taken to the habit and loves it. When we were in the beautiful town of Dinan, I chose to lie on the lawn under the famous Magnolia tree by the church of St.Malo, where some musicians played Bach on their bass and violin.
I usually left the family like this and mostly started walking from whichever market we happened to be, in whatever direction seemed attractive, hoping that I would reach the sea, which was very near, but somehow eluded me and mostly I found myself walking through avenues darkened by the covering like a tunnel, of great oak trees or between corn fields and cabbage patches.
After a call from Ettie wanting to know my where I was, which wasn’t a good question because mostly I didn’t have any idea where I was, I only knew that I was enjoying my walk along these quiet country roads. The only way I had of knowing my location was Google maps on my smartphone, so I sent her a link to my location, which she picked up on her “Waze”, then Avishai and Ettie to rolled up in the BMW to pick me up. They really did me a great service and saved me from walking greater distances than I had already walked.
One day Avishai took me to the beginning of a great coastal walking path known as Port le Chain, which took me along the beaches to Sillon de Talbert. This time my smartphone was dead and they couldn’t find me, so I spent the whole day walking home from there to Pleumeur-Gautier, the vicinity of Irina’s house. It was great.
This was all before I had purchased my new hiking shirt, mentioned above. I only got to use that after I returned to Israel. I bought it at Decathlon, a wonderful sports good store near Lanion another beautiful town, where later, while lunching in the town square with Avishai, I also had my first Galette, a kind of crispy pancake wrap with mushrooms, cheese and other tasty, but unmentionable morsels.
One day I walked to Treguier, about 5 KM away to shoot some pictures with my Cannon Powershot S30. I didn’t know what I was going to shoot. I really went only for the exercise and there, as I crossed the bridge over the Jaudy river, disappointingly a cloud covered the setting sun and dulled the yachts anchored in the little harbor, spoiling any hope of a sharp shot. Then suddenly the cloud moved and the river, the boats, the grassy hill and the houses all turned into gold and I clicked away and have pictures that I love. You can see some of these on my website, jerusalemwalks.com.>Do it yourself tours>French holiday 2016>day4
I maintain that memory is man’s most useful ability. On Sunday night 2nd Oct the Hebrew date will be 1st Tishri 5777 and we are called to exercise this ability and to remember everything that has happened to us until this date. By remembering we can go back to those times in our minds. This way we can enjoy the good things over and over again and we can work to have more of them in the future. We can regret the bad things and try to avoid them in the future.
By exercising our ability to remember we create the tools for a better future.
We can choose to be happy in the coming year by reliving the good experiences we remember of our past.
My wish for you is that you remember the good times and relive them and forget the bad times forever. That way you’ll have a happy New Year and all your years will be happy.
Wishing a great no news day