September 19, 2013
I wake to the sound of feet on the stairs, but keep my eyes closed so that I can pretend to be startled when our son shouts "boo!" from the bedroom door. This is how mornings begin, these days. We cuddle for a while, and then he says -- as he does every day -- "I was thinkin'..." He pauses for dramatic effect, then goes on. "You could put on your robe-in, and come downstairs, and make me some waffles, and put on some cartoons, and then you could shower!" And that's what we do.
Once I am dressed for the day, I take up my lulav and etrog. "I'm going out to the sukkah," I tell him. "Do you want to come?" At first he says no, he wants to watch cartoons, so I come out here alone. It's a stunning late-September day: clear, sunny, bright blue sky. Our sukkah sparkles, tinsel garlands reflecting the early morning light. I make the blessing, shake my lulav in all six directions, sing some of the psalms of Hallel.
I am interrupted by a shout from the deck. "Does this one go on this foot?" It's our son, wanting to confirm right and left before putting on his sneakers and padding out to join me in the sukkah. "Daddy built this sukkah an' I decorated it," he tells me proudly. He gets up on the stepstool to admire the little birds which he so proudly hung on one of the rafters before the festival began. "One is for me," he says, "and one is for Daddy, and one is for you!"
Then his attention turns to the lulav. "What's that," he asks. I tell him it's a lulav, and that the fruit is called an etrog. I encourage him to smell the etrog; he makes a surprised face at its strong scent. Then he says "It goes on the roof." He thinks the lulav is more schach, roofing branches; not an unreasonable theory, actually. I tell him that if I can find last year's lulav, which might be in my study somewhere, we can add it to the roof -- but this one is special; it's for shaking in all different directions and bringing blessings. I pick it up and show him. Then he asks if he can try.
His hands aren't big enough to hold the lulav and etrog together, so he just holds the lulav. He wiggles it this way, that way, the other way. "Blessings over here," he crows. "Blessings over here!" And then he gets bored and puts it down and wants to run around the yard looking for more branches for the roof, which is okay too.
It is such a beautiful morning, this first day of Sukkot 5774. I don't know how to end this post except with this deep wash of gratitude. For the pileated woodpecker and the rooster calling in the distance. For the quiet hum of the crickets and the chipmunks chasing each other in the first rustling fallen leaves. For this airy little house which my sweetheart built and the sparkly adornments which suited our son's aesthetic just so. For this beautiful tall boy with his curiosity about everything. For everything.