Janet Goren
Janet Goren

The Cycles of Life

The nights in Herzliya are finally getting cooler. The different seasons are often represented by the trees as they undergo their seasonal metamorphosis, but here in Israel there is not too much of a change.

However, I am reminded of the US and especially Parksville in the Catskills, or the country, as we called it. We would arrive in the summer when everything was bright green. My grandfather would take out the old lawnmower and cut the grass, or probably the weeds, filling the air with the sweetest scent, far more fragrant than any perfume. The smell of freshly cut grass still evokes Parksville memories carrying me back to a place that today only exists in memories. But by the end of August there was an unmistakable nip in the air. If any other proof was needed that the summer was coming to an end, the splendour of the trees’ multicoloured pallet enabled them to make a grand exit before the long barren winter. And then the glorious rebirth as everything came back to life in the spring.

Despite the everyday drama of life here in Israel, the passages between seasons are actually quite dull. I can only know when the seasons are changing by the blanket I use. In early October, when the summer draws to a close, the sheet no longer provides enough warmth and must be replaced by a lightweight blanket. Next comes a bit of rain, some wind and another drop in the temperature requiring getting out the winter quilt. And in reverse order, the quilt is soon replaced by a blanket and then by a sheet and the cycle continues.

Walking in the park, I witness another cyclical process. The wheels. There are the young mothers proudly pushing their infants in four-wheeled carriages. They stop to look at the new born, smile, coo, take a picture and move on.  Little do they know how soon these carriages will be replaced by strollers and then in the blink of an eye, by tricycles. Now there is hardly time to pause as those little cycling legs, turning the three wheels, must not be allowed to get too far away.

If only the young mothers knew how much they should enjoy the moment. The two-wheeled bicycles cannot be chased and before long, the rider will not agree to being followed anyhow. And then, quite suddenly, it is back to four as the youngster drives off onto his/her own life. How much longer is it before the four once again become two? How quickly the time passes between that first drive and the day the elderly find themselves sitting in a two-wheeled wheelchair, once again being pushed, but now by a caretaker. It may be the same park, but there is no more cooing or smiling and no more pictures. There is just someone adjusting a hat on an old person’s head, perhaps wiping their mouth or covering them with a blanket.

Yet that is the natural order. That is just the cycle and how it is.  It is intolerable when the cycle goes awry, when the wheels don’t follow the correct order. Today, as I was walking home, I saw another caretaker pushing a wheelchair. I couldn’t help but notice since the caretaker was an elderly gentleman, gently stroking the head of the young man sitting in the wheelchair. A grandfather pushing his grandson in a wheelchair defies the natural order and that is just not how it should be. Just as the seasons follow one another in a clearly defined order, so should the cycle of the wheels.

About the Author
Janet Goren grew up in the USA and has been living in Israel for more than fifty years. She raised her family here while teaching English in high school.
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