The knock on the door didn’t sound threatening. But when I opened it, in stomped two fearsome creatures armed to the teeth. One was a Mutant Ninja Turtle and the other was a garden-variety warrior, and both were making menacing faces (as much as I could see behind their armor).
Officially, Purim hasn’t begun yet, but in Israel it is a week-long celebration. After all, how will the nursery schools, kindergartens, and schools celebrate the holiday unless they start early? The kids are on vacation on the holiday itself.
Most years, the kids are disappointed on Purim, because the weather is uncooperative. It usually rains; sometimes it even snows. But this year the sun has come back to us in full force, providing perfect light for outdoor photos.
The Purim story, clearly cribbed from a Persian source (after all, there was no Hebrew word for satraps before the Scroll of Esther was added to the canon), is full of sex, lies, and reversals. It’s a perfect story for heralding the coming of spring, a time of sudden changes. Just two days ago it seemed as though it would never stop raining and the sun would never shine again.
Now instead of using all my brain cells to figure out how to keep warm, I can think about the costume I’ll wear to the reading of the Scroll of Esther. Something with seven veils, perhaps.
WINTER HAS SOME JOYS
No sooner is there a sunny day in February than Israelis go out in droves to see the wildflowers, especially the poppies that color the fields red. But because most people go out on Saturday, the roads are clogged and the outings are not much fun.
My husband and I are not tied to regular school or work schedules, so we’ve made Sunday (a work day here) our day for outings. And we go with another couple who, like us, are happy just to get out of the house.
Before we left our friends’ house last week (they live about one hour southwest of Jerusalem), I took a picture of the almond tree that was snowing petals in their garden. Then we headed for the Valley of Elah, half the way back to Jerusalem, where David slew Goliath. Though it was a gray day, the sight was amazing, partly because of its biblical significance, but mainly because of the profusion of greenery and wildflowers, mainly wild mustard. It was so different from the sere and parched fields we are used to seeing throughout the long summer months.
Spring that brings the joy and hope of renewal, also heralds the coming of our hot summer. We escape being trapped in the cycle only by savoring its best moments.
Text and photos copyright 2012 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photos may be used without written permission of the author.