Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beauty among the wreckage

Despite my small city's fairly urban character it still retains vestiges of its village roots. In the center of the city is a small commercial street, a remnant of days gone by. It looks a bit rundown, as many these days do. Too many stores lie empty, unable to compete with the big new mall just a mile away, but enough remain viable that it still retains its neighborhood feel. I can still buy groceries, or new sheets and towels, or art supplies, or fresh-baked pastries; I can fill prescriptions, or stock up on fresh-roasted cashews, or by clothes for my kids, or even buy a new friend for my fish without ever getting into my car.
Between the small family-run businesses which continue on unchanged year after year are those buildings which time forgot. Old sheds which should have been condemned years ago. Nature has a way of reclaiming her own though, even in the middle of the city.
Around one of these old structures wraps the most magnificent bougainvillea bush imaginable, it's fuschia flowers shining brighter than the sun against the fading white paint of the shed. Each year it bursts into bloom, begging me to come photograph its fleeting beauty. Each year I tell it that I will, and each year I do not.
Until this year. Yesterday I finally made the time to answer the unspoken invitation, and another surprising spoken one.
Nature has claimed a bigger stake with each passing year. First it was the shed

And then the telephone pole
And then the date palm nearby
(Do you see the dates growing high above?)
And all the while I was being watched. Mordechai lives across the street from the bougainvillea, in the modest old home best known for being the one that sets out a tray of wet bread scraps for the pigeons each day (I'd often wondered who did that). Each day he sits on an old plastic chair in the shade of the tree, watching the world go by. He watched silently as I took pictures. When he saw that I had finished he quietly asked what I'd been doing. When I explained, he asked to have his picture taken with the tree too.
Here it is. Mordechai. And yes, I do believe that he was sitting outside in his boxer shorts, but we shall ignore that and leave him with his dignity intact.



myrtle beached whale said...

Beautiful photos. That is one advantage of being an old man. We can sit outside in our boxers if we choose.

Granny Smith said...

What wonderful photos! The portrait of the dignified old man observing the world (and the birds) is a winner. The back of my house is covered by a purple bougainvillea bush. It persists through drought and freeze - a truly hardy plant - not unlike Mordechai.

b said...

My blog is all about traveling...away from home or even inside my head. What a lovely thing it was for me to travel to a place "just outside Tel Aviv" Thank you so much.

What a dear little man!


Lucy said...

The bougainvillea are incredibly beautiful Robin. I have seen this flower but didn't know its name.
It's so cute that you've posted your neighbors photo as well, I wonder what age exactly it is, that a man says "the heck with the shorts' and just goes outdoors in his underwear??!!

linda may said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Something new for me to talk with someone from Tel Aviv.
I love your photos and they way they mix the old with the new i.e. the new seasons flower show.:)
I read down this page, very good blog.

Marty E. said...

thanks for sharing your scribbling...

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I love the pictures, of course. And Mordechai DOES have dignity, possibly because of the Calvins there.

I'm envious that you can walk to so many places. I'm busy howling with frustration that this one bridge is too narrow to bike across. Because if I could bike on it safely, I'd so be running errands that way!

Dawn on MDI said...

Not only does Mordechai have dignity, but he also has style - those are Calvins he's wearing! Bravo to him for thumbing his nose at convention. Hurrah!

Beautiful pictures, by the way. Gorgeous colors, nice composition.

And I have always wondered how dates grew. Now I know. They look marvelous up there in a big, heavy bunch like that. Do you dry them like we get them, or is there a way to eat/cook with them fresh?

Robin said...

Some kinds can be eaten fresh (or even frozen, straight from the freezer), but personally I like the majools the best.

Of course for many years I didn't eat any at all - see why here.

quilly said...

We have date palms here, but none of them -- according to my botanist mate -- the tasty kind.

Mordecai looks quite relaxed. You did make certain, didn't you, that he is in no danger of being engulfed by the bougainvillea?

anthonynorth said...

Great photos and a lovely post. We must cherish nature, but also the remains of that older way of living and trade.
It is disappearing throughout the world. Sad.

Leora said...

I love the paper flowers, but even more, I love Mordechai's portrait in front of them. It's paint-worthy (meaning if I had permission and time, I'd print the photo, set up my easel, and put him in oils).

Rambler said...

beautiful flowers :)

Robert said...

I'm playing catch up today. This work thing is keeping me to busy to blog or visit blogs. This is a nice post. I love that your neighbor volunteered himself to be part of it.

Lis Garrett said...

Hee! I love it!

melissa qubti said...

great!!! another good thing about living in this country is that the weather permits some really spectacular plants and gardens!!!!

Genny said...

These were gorgeous! And I absolutely loved the one of Mordechai, boxers and all. :)

Janet said...

Such a bittersweet post in some ways...ahhh, bougainvillea! So beautiful :-)

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Nicely worked invitation, the photo's are cool too!

Phyllis Sommer said...

so lovely, thank you for inviting me in!

tumblewords said...

Astounding post! Beautiful photos and charming thoughtful words!

Nita Jo said...

Enjoyed your words and your photos. What a spectacular bougainvillea, and Mordechai is a classic!

Jill said...

The bougainvillea is gorgeous! It sure does make the old look new.

Love the photo of Mordecai. That's awesome - reminds me so much of the people just sitting in Zion Square, around the corner from my old house.

Domestic Spaz said...

When I was growing up we lived in a house that had three colors of bougainvillea framing the front of our courtyard. I always loved how vibrant it was but whenever I see bougainvillea now I think of my father who had to tame it a couple of times a year. It is so beautiful, but it has these wretched thorns and my poor dad would come in from battling the bougainvillea with scrapes and gouges all over his arms and sometimes his face.

He never got rid of it though. For over 20 years he battled it.

angie said...

I love Bougainvillea (that is Bougainvillea isn't it?) just wish it didn't have thorns. I absolutely love that Mordechai sits outside in his boxers shorts and it totally fine with that. :)

Preethi said...

Beautiful pictures.. I just love the bougainvillea.. took me back to my childhood days!!

Birthday Invite

AVT Coach said...

I love that they are growing in very unique places. What a gift for Mordechai to think enough of your efforts to capture the flowers that he wanted to be a part of it. I am new to your posts from Photo Story Friday but will be checking in often, I love your posts!

Amanda said...

Go Mordechai! More power to him sporting those fancy-schmancy CK boxers outside! :)

Beautiful photos, as always.

Melissa said...

Dear Robin,

I just found your blog. It's delightful.

I will have to be back to visit soon.

If you get a chance, please stop by Sunbonnet Cottage a say 'hello'.

Thank you.

Sunbonnet Cottage

Redheels said...

I enjoyed your post. It made me think of how fast time runs on and if I'm not careful I won't do many of the things I have planned to do.

What beautiful flowers.

Octamom said...

Beautiful--and I think of all the shots, I like Mordechai the best...

Baila said...

I think I saw that guy on the beach in TA in the same shorts!

quilly said...

I was saddened to read about the passing of Mordecai. Now there is another empty chair in the world and it represents a void in the hearts of his loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Your post reminded me of how unaware we can be in regard to our own impact on other people, especially strangers or brief acquaintances. I wonder if Mordecai would be surprised by your grief? Or mine -- this strange lady from America who know him only as a kind face in a photograph.