Friday, March 1, 2013

Our Purim Tree

No, this is not a food-laden version of the XMAS tree...

I'd say that either
  • G-d played a joke on us
  • there's a power in words
  • or maybe it's both the above?
When we lived in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, on Rechov Bayit Vegan there was a large shekadiya, almond tree in the empty lot right next to our apartment.  Every year during the beginning of the Jewish Month of Shvat, late winter, the local gannim, preschools would march the kids over to serenade it, when it was in full bloom:
השקידיה פורחת HaShekaydia Porachat, The Amond Tree is in Bloom
מילים: ישראל דושמן
לחן: מנשה רבינא

השקדיה פורחת
ושמש פז זורחת,
צפורים מראש כל גג
מבשרות את בוא החג.

ט"ו בשבט הגיע
חג לאילנות.
ט"ו בשבט הגיע
חג לאילנות.

הארץ משוועת
הגיעה עת לטעת,
כל אחד יקח לו עץ
באתים נצא חוצץ.

ט"ו בשבט הגיע...

The almond tree is blooming
and the golden sun is shining,
birds atop each roof
brush (bless) the arrival of the festival.
Tu bishvat has arrived
(it’s) the festival of trees.
Tu bishvat has arrived
(it’s) the festival of trees.
The land is crying out
the time of planting has arrived
each person shall take a tree
we’ll stride out with spades.
Tu bishvat has arrived…
We planted every hill and valley,
From Dan to Beer – Sheva:
And our land we will return and inherit -
A land of refined fresh olive oil (Yitzhar) and honey.
Tu bishvat has arrived… (translation from  My Western Wall)



That almond tree was an "institution" in Bayit Vegan. Nobody could imagine the neighborhood with it. I used to say to myself if we ever moved, we'd have to plant one. I just couldn't imagine living without those gorgeous late winter flowers.

A few months before we moved to Shiloh, a contractor broke ground in the empty lot next to our apartment and destroyed, uprooted the tree. People came from all over the neighborhood to cry and protest. A wealthy resident sent his gardener to try to transplant it next to his home, but the attempt failed.  The tree had been too seriously damaged to be saved.

We moved to Shiloh that following summer.  Gardening isn't my specialty, and we first lived in a small prefabricated cement home around which I planted simple flowers and bulbs.  The year after we moved out, a summer fruit tree was discovered by the front door.

My sons used to root the willow branches, of my husband's Arba Minim, Four Species after Succot.  One year we planted the "willow tree" right next to the front door, because willows need a lot of water I figured that the rainwater from the nearby drain pipe would make it grow well.  We kept waiting, and no big willow tree ever appeared. At best there were some pathetic skinny leaves. Then one Purim, after a very snowy winter, a full month after TU B'Shvat, we suddenly noticed a strange sight.  Almond blossoms on what had been our "willow tree."  Willow and almond leaves are very similar.  And if you look carefully at the bottom of the tree, you'll see what appears to be two tree trunks growing side by side. 

It took a while, but the almond tree began getting much stronger than the willow.  And here's a picture of the tree blooming this year.

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