Permeable: a poem for Sukkot

Turn, turn, turn

Friday evening I got a message that the rabbi was unwell; could I lead services on Saturday morning? Of course, I said. He emailed me the creative Hallel handout he'd assembled, told me which Torah scroll in the ark is set to the reading for the first day of Sukkot, thanked me, and went to bed. That changed the shape of Friday evening a bit. I sat down with my Mishkan Tfilah Weekdays & Festivals edition to look over the festival morning service, and then took out my tikkun to learn the Torah reading, and printed out the guitar tablature for the "song of the week" that had been chosen -- Pete Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn," because the megillah associated with Sukkot is Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) from which most of those lyrics are drawn. The service was a lot of fun; we had a minyan, I played guitar for a couple of the songs in Hallel, and afterwards we studied excerpts from Kohelet and talked about why this megillah might have been chosen to be paired with this festival, themes of striving and impermanence, work and harvest.

Shabbat afternoon was fogged-in and rainy -- no weather for sitting outside in the sukkah, alas. Instead, a good friend and I turned what we estimated to be the proverbial bushel and peck of apples (of many local varieties: Red Lady, Macoun, Honeycrisp, others of unidentifiable provenance) into enough applesauce to grace our Chanukah  latkes, feed my son next spring when he's starting on baby food, and still give both of our households enough applesauce to enjoy and to give away this winter. It was a profoundly satisfying way to spend the day. I enjoy the rhythm of the work. My fingers gravitate toward the Shaker apple corer/slicer and the food mill, both of which turn, turn, turn. I savor the scent of apples cooking with just a splash of water and several long dashes of cinnamon. And I love watching the jars pile up beside the canner, and hearing the popping sounds of their lids sealing this harvest goodness for the seasons to come.

Today dawned with fog but no rain, and soon the sun burned the fog away, though in the valley below us it rested like low-flying clouds all morning. Ethan's taking advantage of the sun to do some much-needed roofing repair work (it's kind of funny that during this season when we inhabit sukkot and remember the impermanence of our dwelling-places, he's quite literally facing the impermanence of ours!) but I'm not much help with that, so I went out to the sukkah instead. To my great pleasure, the rains of earlier in the weekend dampened everything but didn't knock the schach off of the roof! So I went inside and shook my lulav in all six directions, beckoning blessings. I sang some psalms quietly to myself. And then I sat down and called my folks, bringing them into the sukkah through their voices in my ear. I wonder what our son will make of our little round sukkah, of being outdoors and indoors all at once, next time the wheel of the year rolls around.