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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 17, 2013/ 13 Mar-Cheshvan, 5774

Ecclesiastes on a bicycle

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The old boy walked the bike out the door of his house in Little Rock and into Heaven, aka October in Arkansas. In all its burning-tree glory.

It was hard to tell which golden view high above the winding Arkansas River below he preferred. One after another, the great oaks were turning into splendor. He knew others would burst forth any day. He tried to pick a favorite tree on his route. He decided it would be the next one to turn. As with all good things, anticipation may be the sweetest part.

It had been summer for so long, all this was still new to him, as it is every blessed year -- the early morning cool, the crackle of the leaves, the scent of fall itself, like a lover returning. ("Had you forgotten me? Did you think I'd forgotten you? How could you!")

These days he needed a thin jacket for the morning ride around the neighborhood. As always, October had come as a relief from another summer that refused to end and, as always, its end had come as a surprise. We knew about fall in the abstract, but to actually have it here, to sense it, to feel it with every breath. ... All this beauty hadn't been part of just an imagined past after all. Now it was vivid present -- the fresh breeze, the unfolding palette of autumn colors. Welcome back! Fall is bustin' out all over.

The leaves were already starting to come down in the yard and invade the oddest corners of the house. How do they do it -- manage to infiltrate in such numbers and in so many places. ... It was a mystery to him. Of course so much was. Even if it happened every year. He didn't mind picking them up, not yet. They were a welcome sign that the seasons still change. Some things are still right with the world.



Last time he'd taken U.S. 65 through South Arkansas on the way to Mississippi, the heat of the day still shimmered off the old/new plantation house that had been restored at Lakeport. It rose off the highway like a throwback to the 1850s, when the original house had been built just in time for The War and the ruination that had come with it.

Men still make the mistake of assuming the future will be but a projection of the present. If we paid more attention to the past, we might know life is just full of surprises, some of them less than pleasant.

Why do we think of peace as the natural state of things and war as an interruption? Couldn't it just as well be the other way around? Why do we speak of the Thirty Years War and not the Thirty Years Peace? We speak of the historic Civil War, not the historic civil peace that came before and after. As if peace, too, did not require heroism, sacrifice, self-discipline, daring stratagems ... and have its victories and defeats just as war does.

Those who built the high house at Lakeport could not have foreseen the devastation about to come. In the 1850s, cotton was bringing an average of 11.4 cents a pound, the highest it had been since the boom years of the 1830s. Optimism was as endemic along the swampy banks of the Mississippi as malaria.

Old Man River flowed past this plantation like a super-highway to New Orleans and the world's markets. All good things beckoned. Cotton was king, and its kingdom swelled with pride. The South grew haughty, her fine sense of honor even more prickly. Humility was for those less blessed. We were rich and not to be messed with. The pride that goeth before was reaching its zenith. Oh, those were the days, we thought they'd never end. They did. In blood and ruin.

You must visit the old-new mansion at Lakeport. Gaze on Old Man River flowing past and look away, look away. Old times there are not forgotten. You can almost hear the fiddle music, the laughter of the young of all ages, the basso profondo of a steamboat comin' 'round the bend to pick up the cotton bales. Nothing is ever lost, certainly not in these parts.

The high two-story house set in the midst of the cotton fields was a testament to the Delta's antebellum prosperity and the promise of still more to come, with its 17 high-ceilinged rooms, two-story portico, tapered white columns, 11-foot-high wood-paneled doors, the 26-foot-long entry hall ... all of it supported by great cypress beams from the adjacent wetlands. With high cotton came high times. What grand entrances must have been made here, what elaborate courtesies extended, what weddings celebrated!

How could its master, the good Lycurgus Johnson, have foreseen what the near, disastrous future would bring? By the time the surrender was signed at Appomattox, this whole part of the country was being torn apart by looters and freebooters of both sides and no side. Those lucky enough to return whole from the war's various fronts would find little here but desolation. The tax rolls from 1860 to 1865 tell the story: from pride-and-plenty to Nothing to Declare.

Now, with the grand house restored after all those years of neglect, you can almost see the ghosts out for a stroll in their prewar finery. Or waiting to greet you at the top of the grand staircase. As if made for a grand fall.

Things change. And change back. The old boy on his bicycle in the peaceful neighborhood breathed deep. And shivered. All was perfection and yet ... it wasn't. He should have been enjoying the ride. And he was, but only theoretically, the way you do when you know how you're supposed to feel but don't, not really, not all the way through. He should have been refreshed; instead he was resentful.

Why? Why on earth? Why on this golden earth? It took him a moment to understand. It wasn't fall he resented. Never. How could anyone in these latitudes not love it? No, it was something else. It was the passage of time -- unrecoverable time. The intimation, more than intimation now, of mortality.

How he was going to miss all this. He missed it already. Just as he missed those who had gone before, those who had shared many such a season with him, their breath forming a little mist in the early-morning air as they threw on their coats, laughing and smiling, out to enjoy the day. The girls with their mums pinned on their warm jackets, ready to cheer at the football game, and returning with color in their cheeks. What has become of them all these years later?

The sun shone, but a shadow fell. The beauty of the physical world only brought the old truths home: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die.... Once he had put the feeling into old Ecclesiastes' words, it was gone. It was resolved now. Words will do that. Certainly the Word will. It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, all its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths peace. Now he was free to enjoy the brisk air, the warmth of the jacket on his back, the old neighborhood all new again as it donned its fall wardrobe. And off he pedaled.

For there is nothing better than to enjoy the now. Just as The Preacher in the Good Book had advised. The bountiful Now is all we've got, and it is more than enough. Certainly this time of year in Arkansas, when fall has finally got here. In full. Thank Goodness.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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