Life in a very small community of 300 souls has its advantages and disadvantages. And if it is a community which is located high on the mountain, almost isolated, small things might turn into a community debate. Such are the dogs here. Some of us love dogs and raise them as freely as possible. At nights and during the freezing winter the dogs are kept inside their homes. But during the daytime, especially during the summer, they are free outside. And because of that, the place is full of dog's shit.
Recently, someone posted on the kibbutz forum his dismay concerning the dog's shit. Members of the community had many bits of advice concerning the matter. I even started to collect my dog's shit during our morning walk. But I was not consistent with that. Yesterday my neighbors announced that today, after the ceremony on behalf of the kids that begin their first grade in school, all the members of the community are invited to compile the gods' shit.
The ceremony was so nice. It was held in The Square of WInds, the community's center. It is located on a pillar's edge, a green spot of grass and trees. Many of the community members attended together with their kids. When most of the members came, we formed a long gate of hands, and the eight kids that start their first grade tomorrow morning were invited to go through the gate of hands, with their new school bags on their shoulders. After they did we cheered, and Kitchie, the manager of the education system here read her blessing to them and gave them presents. Afterwards the kids had cakes and fruits, and the grownups took disposable gloves and went to collect the treasures their dogs spread all over the place.
DO not ask me why, but while leaning over piles of shit, I suddenly recollected Alfred Tennyson's poem, The Lotus Eaters:
"Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each, but whoso did receive of them
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make."
Collecting a whole bag of dog's shit was not an enchanting experience as the Mariners in Tennyson's poem had, but the consequences were different either. We did not die, nor sank into a comma. We threw it in the garbage and went back home.
This was our evening. In the morning I went with Michael and Daniel and my photographer friend Ido Rosenthal to the beach of Achziv, an ancient site on the Mediterranean coast of northern Israel, between the border with Lebanon and the city of Acre. It is a national park, with shallow water where the kids can dive and swim. We enjoyed it for an hour or so, and then I took them back home, as I always do – I never stay with them at the beach after 11.30 a.m, when it's getting very hot.
The boys slept during the drive back home and kept sleeping until afternoon. When they woke up Daniel went to visit a friend until the ceremony in The Square of Winds will begin, Michael stayed home and I took the opportunity to write. It was not easy. Michael was fascinated by his dad, writing on his old typing machine, and stared at the pages while I was writing. It took my great efforts to stay focused, but I did. I wrote my daily portion. Only then I could go out to the ceremony and afterward to the session of collecting shit.
When you write, sometimes you deal with shit, sometimes with tasting strange fruits on alien shores. And you can easily go into Alpha state, one step from comma or death. But your writing keeps you alive.
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