I cannot find even one street in Arad that does not have flowers. My entire neighborhood is named for flowers, every street. And every yard has flowers too. It is incredible. Every traffic circle, every public place -- hundreds of them, in every possible color and shape combination. The air is intoxicating, in fact. I walk by and breathe in lavendar, rosemary, honeysuckle, dark red roses.... you name, it is there. The entire town is one big fragrant bouquet.
And then there are the dogs.
They are present, too. In every neighborhood, some more than others. Even I, a stalwart supporter of the feline experience (we have four to our credit), finally had to give in and get one, when as a little puppy covered in ticks my kids brought her home half dead. So of course I couldn't just let her die. A vet bill of over $500 later, tick free and spayed, Sussie joined the family. That was less than a year ago and she is now the size of a minature pony, one that my seven year son could easily ride.
Our youngest cat, Pippin, himself a maturing kitten almost the same age, is her best friend. They sleep together and she washes that cat every day, whether or not he needs it. It is too weird for words, but awfully cute to see.
At first, she did not realize that as a dog, she has certain responsibilities -- to be in our yard, to protect hearth and home, and bark like crazy when strangers appear. The other dogs in the neighborhood have tutored her assiduously, however. Today she is an official protector-in-training, barking like a maniac when anyone has the audacity to walk down our street, let alone near the house. The alarm goes out and every single dog in every yard (and on my street every yard but two has a dog) joins the chorus regardless of hour of day. It is amazing. And no one gets bitten, and no one cares about the noise. They see it as an inexpensive and much nicer burglar alarm.
Sussie is all bark and almost no bite. She does bite, however, when she plays with you, and also knocks you down in her enthusiasm. She scared the life out of the 5 year old spoiled brat across the street. The brat's older brother, on the other hand, loves Sussie and plays with her all the time. That is, when he is not throwing rocks at her or at my son, one of his best friends. (He has a problem with impulsivity and anger control.)
The dog has been impossible to train until lately, because it took this long to figure out what would entice her to listen. I finally found out, by accident, in the desert one day. I had brought a sandwich and some dry bread for the birds. I scattered the bread and she carefully picked it all up and trotted home with it, and proceed to bury every last piece in the yard. And now all I have to do to get her to come home with me is brandish a little bread. Amazing, given the money I have spent on "treats" which she ignored. Go figure.
Our cat Boo Boo is also a bread fanatic. I have to hide the bread I buy for the kids; if not, she will rip the bag to pieces to get to it. She was the one who came home as a kitten with my 14 year old, who felt bad because her thigh bone was broken and she looked so forlorn. Well, after $450 and a hospital stay, one month in my bedroom to convalesce from surgery and countless cuddles, she is here too.
Tuli, our oldest cat (12 until 120) is a gourmet; she prefers green olives in paprika hot sauce. For real.
Pippin eats chocolate cake.
Lucky, so named for having survived nine attempts on his life by the Fates thus far, will not eat cottage cheese but will eat almost anything else.
Thank G-d for the dog, who is not nearly as picky.
Flowers and animals and fruit trees and desert breezes, dust and moonlight -- Arad is a place of contradictions, of mavericks and sculpture, which can be seen at any major intersection or other busy area. Unreal. An artist's paradise.
A city person would die here.
For the rest of us, it is where we were meant to be.