Winter

The thermometer on my car read 14 degrees this morning. Despite what the calendar says, that is not spring. The stores are full of shorts. It’s a laugh.

At least we are nice and warm in our NEW HOUSE! Those who know us in real life know that we bought a house and moved in February. While we were waiting to close and trying to set a moving date, the city got pummeled with four back-to-back snowstorms in the space of just over a week. (At least we didn’t have it as bad as Boston.) We moved in February with 7-foot snowbanks all over the place and movers tracking salty slush through the house. Then I had to mop the floor in our apartment that was heated only by space heaters since we were not living there. My socks got wet and Rafi got bored. It was not one of my favorite experiences.

Yesterday was Maple Sunday, which is supposed to be the culmination of the four-week period of running sap and making maple syrup. They have festivals in some towns, but every little syrup producer advertises, puts up a sign, and sells the syrup from their backyard. There is one family that makes syrup who are members of the synagogue by us, and we went to their house and talked maple syrup and synagogue politics for half an hour in a shed dubiously heated by the syrup boiler. They said the sap usually starts running mid-February, but it didn’t start this year until a couple of weeks ago, so they only had half the amount of syrup as usual.

Jewish life in Maine continues to be an adjustment. With Shaarey Tphiloh undergoing a crisis of leadership and money, and with Pesach coming up, I’ve been feeling it more acutely. The Jewish community here is really, really small and resource-poor (not just money but also the time and energy of people). I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, that religious life in Cleveland was more similar to Israel than to Maine. I keep reminding myself not to expect holiday celebrations or people’s choice of holiday activities to be what I would expect. I don’t mean to denigrate Maine at all. There are some amazing things that go on here, like Jewish Jam with Student Cantor Jeff Warschaur, an informal group for all ages to sing and play traditional Jewish music. Maine is a really special place for its slower pace of life, its local food, its vast stretches of woods, and the rootedness of its people, and those characteristics are incompatible with dense population centers with transient families. They shouldn’t be incompatible with traditional Judaism, but they are incompatible with a large, resource-rich Jewish community.

It’s hard for me separate unfamiliar Jewish culture from the general feeling of being transplanted. I think the two feelings feed into each other. (I felt better after Maple Sunday, which reminded me of what I love about Maine, and after getting a great response from families from Rafi’s school to come to our matzah pizza party on the 7th night in our NEW HOUSE.)

Rafi is learning how to play chess and loves it. He does puzzles online and goes to chess club when they have it on Sunday instead of Saturday. I swear the thinking skills are spilling over into learning to read; although we haven’t been pushing the reading at all, something is starting to click in his brain. This morning he was sounding out words in one of Ezra’s books.

Now if spring would just come…

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7 thoughts on “Winter

  1. You have discovered the real problem with Northern New England winters. They last too long. This one is lasting even longer.

    Wonderful to hear about Rafi’s progress with chess and other things.

  2. Rafi is a bright little boy and I think you are a very good writer. I have been in Maine for 12 years and I didn’t know there were Mapple Syrup farm! I am an hibernator… 😉 It does take some time to adjust to Maine’s life; I still haven’t yet… I am so glad you enjoy your new home and I hope you will have a fun Pesah celebration! Hag Sameah lekulam! 🙂

  3. If you’re sick of your winter clothes you can wear lighter weight cottons over tights, with a cardigan…a pastel scarf instead of a wintery one…

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