Zohar lesson from erev Shavuot
A barrier of a different color

Holiday weekend

The day I swap out my wardrobe, winter for summer, is one of the holidays of my year.

There are other days like it, of course. The day I take the ficus tree and geraniums outside to spend the season absorbing sun without the mediation of glass, washed by genuine rains. The first pedicure of the season, at the Korean nail shop in the mall, and the liberation of leaving thick wool socks behind. The day we bring the oscillating fan out of retirement, and relearn how to sleep beneath its quiet hum. The first time Ethan mows the lawn, making the glorious green world redolent of clipped grass.

But there's something about changing clothes that makes the new season feel to me like it's really settled in. Like impending summer is no longer just flirting with us. The turn of season is truly here.

The first step in the process is folding the laundry. Clean laundry piles up in our household more often than I'd like to admit, especially when we're overwhelmed or overscheduled. So I spend some quality time in the laundry room, matching sleeve with sleeve, thinking about my favorite short laundry poem. All of the winter clothes have to be put away -- turtlenecks stacked, sweaters on their shelf, corduroy and velvet and wool on hangers -- before anything can be moved.

Then I start carrying things back and forth. A heavy armload of winter wear moves into the attic closet; on the return trip I bring cotton and linen, surprisingly smooth against my skin. Flannel shirts and thick dresses travel one way; Ghanaian batiks move the other. It's time now for linen overalls, not polarfleece ones. I unpack the t-shirts from their boxes, and replace them with sweater after sweater after sweater. Already it's unthinkable that I could ever have worn any of this woolen armor; just picking it up and folding it makes sweat prickle on my skin.

In the fall, I know, when nights grow cold and we restore our heavy handmade Ghanaian patchwork quilt to our bed -- when the smell of woodsmoke means a fire in the fireplace, not chickens smoking on the grill -- I will go through this process in reverse. Rediscovering all of my cold-weather gear will feel like a birthday and Chanukah and a shopping trip all rolled into one.

But right now, that moment is impossibly far away. It's my own personal beginning of the summer season, and I am thankful that the wheeling round of the year has brought us to this moment again.

Shabbat shalom.


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