Earlier this week I got an e-mail from a rabbi saying, “Isn’t it awesome to celebrate the the first signs of spring (in Israel) on a zero degree day?”
Awesome is one word for it. I’m constantly freezing here in Minnesota. I look outside through my frosty windows at the snow and the ice and the cold and I can feel way down deep in my bones all sorts of unnatural things freezing.
I smile at my children laughing, screaming, wheeeing, sledding. Consistently surprised by how much they adore the same cold things that tend to make me scowl. Shivering, I turn back to my steaming cup of coffee, my fingers wrapped around it out of habit for sure, but also in the hopes of seeping in some of that warmth.
Absent-mindedly, I plan on making hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) to warm up their frozen fingers and keep those smiles plastered onto their rosy-cheeked faces as I click through different computer screens and my mind wanders to our calendar and what I still need to plan! Buy! Do!
As I scroll through the too-many screens that I have up, I glance at the e-mail from Rabbi Stiefel and remember: Right.
It’s time to be thinking, talking, teaching about Spring. It’s Tu B’Shvat, the birthday of the trees. Odd timing in Minnesota, but seemingly perfect for Israel where Spring is indeed about to bloom, tease and arrive.
Truth be told, I don’t mind dreaming about a little bit of Spring in my future. Looking towards a time where I DON’T have a pile of snow gear in and out of my washer, dryer, piled on my floor. Where nothing on my body freezes when I step outside.
Do I daresay that I’d trade my hot chocolate for lemonade and iced tea in a heartbeat? Well, I would.
I was planning on taking the girls to a Tu B’Shvat program at the JCC Sunday afternoon. We were going to watch a show! Plant! Eat symbolic foods! All with other Minnesotans secretly contemplating aliyah just because, you know, it is almost Spring in Israel.
But after a sleepless night filled with too many kid-wakings, subsequent parent wakings and endless games of musical beds, we stayed close to home.
We ate and taste-tasted and picnic-ed and planted and talked. And it was lovely.
I learned that when it comes to Spring, my kids miss their bikes and their swing-set. Jason misses grilling. And Louie misses tearing up the grass. Obviously.
And as for me? Tu B’Shvat and Spring make me feel all sorts of earthy. Reminding me of the beauty of our world. How bountiful it is. And how much we need to take care of it. The reduced chill factor and sun-kissed faces are a given. But I want my kids to covet taking care of the Earth as well.
So as a family we talked about what we could do to be a little more careful and a little more mindful. We talked about lights and energy, composting and reusing, gardening and CSA-ing. My kids blew me away with what they already knew (Well done teachers. Well done, indeed.) and how open they were to our family trying something new.
We landed on signing up for a CSA for the Summer. And they really got it. They got the idea of using less of the world’s energy by buying locally. Supporting local farmers. Having fresh fruits and veggies at our fingertips. Eating what’s grown. Trying new recipes. And of using our money wisely so we can afford to do all of the above. Kayli connected to local lunch day at school and made us sign a contract to “do what’s right.” And my more than slightly earthy and granola-natural lovin’-pragmatic but idealistic-California soul was so, so very happy.
So there you have it. That’s how we celebrated Tu B’Shvat this year. It’s a minor Jewish holiday with no real rules or regulations. It had our family gathering around the table, or picnic blanket I guess, discussing something important to all of us, making healthy decisions and trying new foods. So all in all- it was right up my alley.
The e-mail from Rabbi Stiefel ended with the words, “There is no special greeting for Tu B’Shvat. No special laws or restrictions. Go hug a tree!”
And I think I will. As long as my arms and fingers don’t freeze in the process!
That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. Which CSA did you decide to go with?
Awesome, it will be so fun! We have really enjoyed our CSA since we joined a few months ago. It has been interesting and challenging to learn how to cook things like parsnips, endives, fresh beets, etc. Allrecipes.com and it’s “Ingredient Search” has become my best friend! 🙂 Send me a tweet if you end up with a weird ingredient & I might be able to tell you if we’ve found a great recipe for it!
You’ve done it again. I LOVE reading everything you write, G. Here are my two favorite lines from this post:
Why yes. yes, I did sign Kayli’s contract with my first and last name. *Sigh* I was tired.
And my more than slightly earthy and granola-natural lovin’-pragmatic but idealistic-California soul was so, so very happy.
MANY of my great friends do CSA shares. It’s lovely. I’ve learned that I could eat pureed celeriac root every day for the rest of my life. It definitely makes them more creative and healthy. I love it. And every once in a while I get to pick up their deliveries if they are out of town– and between the four friends I know who do it, I’ve gotten some good produce over the last few years. Hint… Hint… if you ever take a vacation, I’m your pick-up girl. 🙂 LOVE YOU!!!
Totally get what you mean about the cold. That’s one of the reasons we currently reside in the southern United States. (And actually complain when it gets colder than 50. Yes, I am spoiled.)
More than that, I love that your family sat together, discussed what the day meant for you and made plans to TAKE ACTION. TOGETHER. That is just super awesome.
Ellwood has been begging for a composting pile for a while. I think we might take him to the community garden to take care of that urge…
Holy Moly this is an awesome celebration. How wonderful to share such a teaching with your children. I think I will teach my children about Tu B’Shvat! Humm what to do?
What a lovely post, very inspiring. Your children are very lucky to have you for their mother…you always encourage them to be mindful and charitable, thoughtful of others and thoughtful of the environment.
The earth is lucky to have a family like yours.
I’ve been thinking a lot about CSA farms. It almost warms me up. Almost.
My friend Megan holds the same hope for thinking about summer camps. Doesn’t work for me.
I knew we like each other for so many many reasons, the whole living in a cold place & not liking winter, add that to the lengthening list!
You continue to impress me with your thoughtfulness and the loving manner in which you pass your values along to your children. Kol ha kavod.
It’s great that your kids are so aware of all of these important things, so very young! Back in the day, As children, we were always ‘planting trees’ in Israel…It was what was needed back then—Now, we need to plant trees here….
I bet Spring cannot get here soon enough for you and yours!!
Sounds like a great way to spend your holiday. I could always tick everybody off and post pics of the gorgeous weather we are having here in Florida. It is supposed to hit 72 degrees today.
You don’t need me to tell you that Judaism is about doing; what a perfect way to put meaning into this holiday!
I agre with FrozenChallah – I am also impressed and inspired that you teach your kids such wonderful lessons on a continuous basis. I’m so sorry we didn’t get together while I am here – I am off to the wedding and will be leaving tomorrow after the brunch.
I love your city! I will be back and we will get together then for sure.
Okay well first I won’t tell you how it felt like spring here this weekend in NC and it was almost 70 degrees today. (whoops!)
Galit: I think instilling in your children the importance of doing their part as individuals and as a family to take care of our world, our beautiful earth, is soooo important. And I would think every parent would want to do the same – after all, their children will be inheriting this earth one day. And yes, good for the school in already teaching some of this to your children – bravo!
Just so you know; I started my own above ground organic garden in my small back yard two years ago. It was so easy and the delight and joy I received in eating my own home grown food was indescribable. I didn’t get lettuce the first year but I did the second and it was so exciting. It may be something you will want to try one day – a great learning experience for your kids. Hugs!
When I read the posts that you write on your children, it brings tears to my eyes b/c I can’t help but have the verse, “children are a blessing from the Lord” pop into my head.
You get this.
They are a joy, not an interruption, to our life.
Wow, on the CSA thing. I haven’t done it yet. Too much commitment. I’m frightened of being left with too much. But I like the idea of involving the kids, I can see that mine would be all over it. No like their commitment-phobe mom. If you have a Wholefoods nearby, they do an awesome tour for kids.
I loved reading how you celebrated Tu B’Shvat this year. What a great example you are to your family and your faith!
Hey Galit – have you heard about Easy Bean Farm? Run by Jews – there’s a whole page on their site all about Tikkun Olam and another about leaving the corners of the fields for the poor. Super cool. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll take the CSA plunge, but I’m tempted! And your post was lovely!
Seriously- your kids are so lucky!! It’s great you have this record of all the cool stuff you’ve done with them so they MIGHT appreciate it one day. 🙂
Okay sweet friends, I’m so sloooow these days at e-mailing y’all. i blame this long, cold Winter. Yes, that’s it.
BUT, here’s the link to the CSA that we went with: http://hayriverfarm.com
The eggplant! The kale! The tomatoes! And from my kids: No dill!
Thanks so much for the words, ideas and support! I love them all! XO
The birthday of the trees. That sounds magical.
Oh, I can’t wait for spring either. I am so over winter. What a lovely tradition. I like how you guys all worked it out together. I am sure that just enhanced the fun.