Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaves, Rain, Curtains and Prayers

We just got back from Syracuse yesterday -- on a pre-dawn flight. The kids and I went to bed at 1am and got up again at 4:30am -- or 1:30 am west coast time -- though Jon doesn't agree with me that that means we only had a half hour of sleep.

It rained much of the few days we were there for my nephew David's Bar Mitzvah, but I got to see the leaves changing! No jumping in them or raking up big crunchy piles, but lots of beautiful color. Beautiful gold, some orange, a little red creeping out. The reds weren't in full force yet -- we managed to arrive before the peak, which was fine. I was happy. I didn't even mind the rain and clouds. It's the feel of home. It wasn't sunny all the time when I lived there, after all. And I saw the trees changing their colors from the car window as we went back and forth to the temple.

I also appreciated our temple, Temple Concord, which is one of the oldest congregations in America, founded in 1839 and in this location for almost 100 years. Most other temples I've been in are new and modern, and never feel quite the same to me. Temple Concord is old and stately, with cream-colored pillars against light blue walls, and super high adorned ceilings. It also has, I remembered, many nooks and crannies, and rooms down all kinds of hallways, and layers of heavy curtains on the stage in the social hall, where I remembered hanging out in its dark folds with other teenagers during youth group meeting breaks.

The women's room off the big social hall I remembered was another favorite, with a lounge area and couch, and about 20 degrees hotter than the larger room. It was still a sauna. Toward the end of the party I went in there and found two 14-year-olds stretched out on the floor like they really were taking a sauna.

David did a great job at his Bar Mitzvah, and I felt the deep emotion of a centuries-old tradition. There is something about those traditions that is so deep and sometimes so unexpected for one who doesn't even belong to temple these days. When Aaron was 8 days old we held a bris, the Jewish circumcision ceremony, for him. It hit me way more powerfully than I'd expected. I felt in that quick, practiced moment of cutting, and the rabbi's prayers, and the friends and family gathered, the generations that had preceded us, the great history and belief that had guided us to that moment. It was visceral. My very body responded with blood and milk.

Every thing and its seasons.

Monday, October 12, 2009

African Fortune Cookie

Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly, but flooding the river.
The loveliest fortune I ever opened.

A gift Saturday night at the end of a benefit concert by the lovely (at 8 1/2 months pregnant, no less!) Omega Bugembe Okello and Village Enterprise Fund for Anti-Poverty Week to help fund start-up enterprises in Africa.

Tonight fall breezes touched down and the gentle rain began.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Talking About the Weather

You know how when you've been out of touch with someone it's kind of hard and embarrassing to get back in touch...and then you stay out of touch longer, and then it's even MORE embarrassing? That's how I feel right now. I've meant to blog. In the summer I managed to blog every day about filing, but then skipped right over whole blocks of incidents and more important subjects in the fall.

So I'll do what people have done for years to get to know you again: talk about the weather.

Our northern California edition of the New York Times shows our weather on the top right of the front page. At the beginning of this week it read:

"Abundant sunshine and very pleasant...tomorrow, more of the same."

This made me laugh. Such a cliche, and so desirable, and in some way, so boring, all at the same time! As if it was a lack of weather that left it the same. Perhaps I am just permanently shaped by growing up in cold, cloudy Syracuse, New York. The weather report there NEVER said that -- not once.

This morning is still cloudy here in Northern California, and strangely, I feel a little happier. I find it so hard to stay inside and do work when it's so obnoxiously nice outside! California, I like you, but sometimes I don't really love you.

Then again, it's always this time of year that I miss the east coast -- October, fall, the changing leaves. Maple trees are planted along some of the streets of our neighborhood, but they are petite, and the color change polite. The east coast may get bitter winters and rainy springs, but fall -- at least outside of the cities -- is a blast of brilliant color and crunch whose least concern is politeness. And you don't get the state of fall without the the rest of the package. And then there are apples, and cider.

In any pros and cons list there are trade-offs. Pretty much anything can be a pro or a con.