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Happy new year, trees

Tu BiShvat, the "New Year of the Trees," begins tonight. This is the time, tradition tells us, when the sap begins rising to feed the new growth of the year to come.  Last year at this time I linked to some terrific Tu BiShvat resources, and posted a haggadah for a Tu BiShvat seder.

I've been looking forward to Tu BiShvat this year, both because I'm planning to eat that spicy blueberry-etrog jam I made after Sukkot, and because on a personal level I find the idea of a new beginning in deep midwinter pretty compelling.

I feel endlessly fortunate to live in a place with so many trees, a place where I can feel so easily connected to the natural rhythms and cycles of living things. Tu BiShvat -- like Groundhog Day, which also happens to be today -- is a reminder that though the world may be snowy, what's leafless isn't dead, only dormant. All the bare branches will leaf again in the fullness of time.

I know from talking with Jesse, a local maple farmer, that without a solid winter the maple crop suffers. The cold is good for the trees. Over the years that I've lived here, I've come to recognize that having a dormant season is good for me, too.

This year especially, I like the idea that though the mercury is low, deep down there's something new germinating. Today the trees are one year older and so are we. May we, like the trees, be firmly rooted, draw sustenance from our source, and bear good fruit!

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