Cornstalks on the roof of my car.
In years past, we've used our ger -- the small round Mongolian-style house which we and our friends assemble as extra guest space for our annual New Year's gathering -- as the framework for our sukkah. It was lovely: roundish (shaped like a cursive letter samech, if one squinted a little) with a beautiful spoked roof. (You can see photos of several years worth of our sukkot in this flickr photoset, if you're so inclined.) But this past winter, the heavy snows which caused our deck to partially collapse also broke the roof-beams of the ger beyond repair. I assumed that I wouldn't have a sukkah at home this year. I figured I would daven and hang out in the synagogue sukkah instead.
But because Ethan is awesome, he spent Sunday building a gorgeous new sukkah structure, large enough to house the glass-topped table which during the summer season lives on our deck. Drew and I picked up some schach (branches to serve as the makeshift roof) at a farmstand in town, and I drove home slowly with them atop my car. (See above.) Here's what Ethan built, topped with the cornstalks we fetched in town and festooned with autumnal garlands:
This year's sukkah.
I can't wait to spend time in it. (I am resolutely ignoring the weather forecasts which call for rain starting just in time for the festival to begin. It's a week-long festival; surely it won't rain the whole time?) (Well, I live in hope.)
Sukkot has resonated differently for me at different points in my life. After my strokes, I marveled at how the fragility of the sukkah mirrored the way I felt in my own body. When I was pregnant, the impermanence of the sukkah felt like a metaphor for the pregnancy approaching its close, and all the world felt like a flimsy sukkah when I anticipated Drew's birth. I don't know yet what the experience of Sukkot is going to bring me this year, but I'm grateful to have the chance to find out.
There's something very powerful for me about entering into this festival only four short days after the end of the Yamim Nora'im (Days of Awe.) Our holiday season doesn't end with the grandeur of Rosh Hashanah or the soul-searching of Yom Kippur. Both of these are steps along the way to Sukkot, the festival of hospitality and harvest.
Sukkot reminds us that our bodies, our houses, the structures of our lives both literal and metaphorical are impermanent, more fragile than we tend to think -- but it also reminds us that we can (indeed: we must) rejoice even in these most uncertain of circumstances. What a wonderful way to round out our holidays and to enter wholly into autumn (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), this season of transition and change.
For more on this theme, I recommend Reb Jeff's post Building a sukkah in hurricane territory.