Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Oseh Ma'asei Beresheit

On my way to lead the sium bechorim (study session for those fasting prior to Pesach because they are first born, in order that they can eat today) which was to be (and was) preceded by our communal blessing of the Creator on the day when the sun moves to its original position when God created it (this only happens once every 28 years), I was pondering the maasei beresheit.

Normally, throughout the year, I miss living in Southern California. Maryland's weather, although it's not as extreme as some places, just doens't compare.
The one thing that does really make up in some way for it is spring. While lots of temperate climes have nice springtimes, the DC area has one thing that really stands out: the cherry blossoms. While these blossoms are relatively fragile, and don't usually last long, they are lovely, and they are, in this area, planted extravagantly all over the place.
Normally my preference in flora is useful plants: herbs, vegetables, fruit, and then secondarily scented flowers. For example, I'm not clear about what the difference is between southern magnolias (I think Magnolia magnolia) that bloom later in the summer and the pink ones that also grow here (I think magnolia yuliana, but I could be wrong) other than the fact that the pink ones have no scent, and drop their petals everywhere after blooming where they get slimy very quickly, but I just don't care for the pink ones. To me, they're fakers, because they don't have that wonderful smell.
Flowers that have had the scent bred out of them in favor of more perfect petals or colors are -to me- ridiculous (roses without any scent? Why? Carnations that smell like plastic? Ick).
But I nevertheless have an appreciation of cherry blossoms. Perhaps it's their bravery - like the shekdia, that blooms first, around Tu Bishvat in Israel, cherry blossoms peek their heads out early - and almost always a little too early really. It's still windy and cold here, and some years, the blossoms only last a few days.

I also appreciate the variety -some bloom a week later, some a little earlier, some are weeping, some straight, there are some variation in color, and together it's a bit like pink snow in some of our neighborhoods by this time of year.
And then of course, the other trees decide if the cherry blossoms can do it, they can too, and the pears and apples and crabapples start to bloom - and while the pear blosoms don't smell good, the crabapples do, and all of them together fill up the streets with masses and masses of blossoms.

It almost makes it worth living here. Or at least visiting.