14 Adar 1, Purim katan
In the States, the four seasons are very clearly delineated, each with their unique and rather well-defined characteristics. I would say that the long-awaited spring was probably my favorite of the four seasons, with summer scoring a close second. The bright sun, warm weather, and longer days were rejuvenating after the cold and dreary winter (as I’m sure they will be after this past cold, snow-filled one ) and the blossoming trees really sang to my soul. Our last home in New Jersey was extra special because of the wonderful flowers that sprang up over the course of the spring and summer in our backyard, courtesy of a previous resident. Our first season was most delightful since the garden was always full of surprises, with new flowers blooming sequentially throughout the spring and summer; we enjoyed irises, tiger lilies, roses, tulips, and a host of other flowers whose names I never learned. There was even a mimosa tree in our backyard, which, although not native to the area, I spotted elsewhere in town as well. The second spring we enjoyed planting a vegetable garden but were not privileged to enjoy the fruits of our labor; no matter how we tried to deter him, a resident gopher got to our plants first – he found the leaves very appetizing. In addition, the flowers in our garden seemed to fade all too quickly – probably needed good weeding, pruning, and fertilizer – but I think anything short of lasting through the summer would have seemed too fast to me, and the flower blossoms of spring fell too quickly from the trees for my liking. Is it any wonder the multi-hued leaves of fall are so enjoyed in the Northeast United States and why newspapers track the changing colors through the New England states? The trees are bursting with color once again!
The four seasons here, in Rehovot, are not as clearly marked by abrupt temperature changes; fall slowly became winter, if you could call it that. I’ve greatly enjoyed our first Israeli fall and winter, not just because we’re living in Israel (although that would be reason enough), but because when I walk outside in November, December, and January the trees are still green — some are even flowering; hibiscus bushes, which are ubiquitous here, as well as other shrubs and plants are always in bloom, the palm trees (three different species as far as I can tell) are majestic, and even the terraces in apartment buildings (there are many) are filled with plants and small trees. Nothing like the winters I’ve been accustomed to!
When we moved into our apartment in Rehovot it was mid-October. A priority for me was stocking the plant terrace outside our large living room window, since the plants would help to make our apartment into a home. The window starts about a foot-and-a-half from the floor and extends to the top of the nine-foot-high ceiling, takes up about three-quarters of the wall (we have pocket windows), and opens up to a deep cement trough encircled by a high railing. I was delighted to find a large and well-stocked plant nursery in our mixed commercial-residential neighborhood, and I was amazed that I could buy vegetable plants in mid-October which were out of season by mid-September in New Jersey. So, into the trough we put pots filled with tomato, eggplant, pepper and cucumber plants and various herbs. I don’t think the temperature went below about 40° F here at night during the coldest period and it was probably about 10° warmer during the day. Except for the cucumber plants that were shredded during a very bad windstorm, we are still enjoying their fruits.
Another restorative activity for me: walking along Rechov Sereni to one of the nearby Anglo shuls (synagogues). The entire boulevard dividing northbound and southbound lanes is lined with tall palm trees, and along with the blue sky… Well, what more could I want?
I can feel spring coming to Rehovot already; the weather is gradually getting warmer and the days longer. We will soon be able to keep our windows wide open once again and I look forward to enjoying the new varieties of plants that will start coming into bloom. We were told that it gets hot and humid here in the summer, but I think the year-round greenery is more than worth it.
The four seasons in Rehovot and living in Israel are like a smile in my heart and a song in my soul.