Life is skittles and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring.
I do, don't you? 'Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me,
And makes ev'ry Sunday a treat for me.
All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
I don't think Tom Lehrer had Jerusalem's parks in mind when he wrote that, and now that I think of it, I don't see many pigeons in Israel's parks, possibly due to the very large number of feral cats rather than poison, but spring is definitely the loveliest time of year in Israel and we are wallowing in the throes of it right now.
Most unusually, the weather is fine for Purim this year. Usually, for reasons known only to the Most High, Purim, Lag b'Omer, and Independence Day tend to be cold and rainy, even though it's nearly summertime by Yom Atzmaut. Everything is green and blossoming. The wildflowers (protected by law--how many countries protect flowers ?) are scattered over the hillsides, which have, even in the Jordan Valley (where it never rains) a velvety cover of delicate grass. Brilliant scarlet poppies, shy anemones, rare blue-black irises, jonquils and narcissi, peep out of the foliage, soon to wither and scorch in the Mediterranean sun. Soon, everyone with allergies will begin sneezing (the olive tree is especially tiresome in this respect and most immigrants to Israel from colder climes are completely unprepared for olive pollen and react violently, myself included) and hacking. For most, it's a small price to pay for the mild weather and the (comparative) lushness of the countryside. It fades all too soon.
Purim is a harbinger of Passover, and so most women are somewhat ambivalent about its arrival. The Seder night is exactly one lunar month away, and the Pesach cleaning now moves into high gear. If there are traditional practices that just about every Jewish Israeli adheres to, no matter how secular, it is the Passover Seder and rituals associated with death and mourning. Depending on one's ethnic background, the cleaning can mean a total house painting, a virtual disassembly of cupboards and appliances associated with food production, literally shaking out every book to discover any hidden crumb, total change of dishes and utensils, boiling water poured over every surface that can sustain it; plastic put over every surface that can't. This year, since the Seder is on Saturday night, there are additional halachic problems. I hate the whole business, frankly. The Seder may be uplifting, but the weeks before it give me radical anxiety and stress.
So I guess I ought to make hay while the sun shines (sneeze!) and enjoy Purim and the spring. Indeed, I shall. I've reassembled the porch swing, and will shortly remove myself to it, accompanied by some crocheting and my pocket PC, to which I've added a number of mp3 files from a site I've recently found, called Nonags (www.nonags.com). You have to take out a subscription, which is $25 a year (special deal is currently available--40% discount for a "lifetime" subscription) and it gives you access 300 GB of audiobooks, plays, and old-time radio shows for download. The stuff is fantastic! Everything from classical BBC drama to The Lone Ranger; poems by Edgar Allen Poe read by Basil Rathbone to Burns and Allen (which I'm downloading to my computer as I'm writing this); the unabridged reading of Dr. Zhivago to Amos 'n' Andy. Bill Clinton reads My Life (surprisingly well) and there are recordings of radio programs featuring all the greats of the Swing era, like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. For someone like myself who grew up in the Golden Age of Radio, it's a mechiah.
In spite of this being a post about Purim, I haven't really written much about it. I suppose this is because my kids are now adults, and I don't have to figure out any more how to make costumes warm enough for them not to get pneumonia but creative enough to maintain my "reputation" as an "arty" person. The Adloyoda parade in Tel Aviv resumed this year after a couple of years when the intifada interfered with it (interestingly, maybe because everyone still jumps at the noise, there seems to be less fireworks than I remember), but Jerusalem has always been more subdued. From Taanit Esther this year to the end of Shushan Purim it's a full 4 days, which has always seemed odd to me, coming from a place where Purim was barely a day. Which neighborhoods of Jerusalem celebrate Purim proper and which celebrate Shushan Purim has resulted in a logistical nightmare for those giving mishloach manot. Fortunately, everyone I know lives close enough to me that I don't have to figure it all out, although I was paid a visit by two young men from Gush Katif who wanted me to accept one, complete with a CD explaining why I should "join myself" to the settlers there. Does Gaza come under the category of a "walled city in the time of Joshua"? I forgot to ask them. I also forgot to tell them that this family supports disengagement. Ah well...
A Purim sameach to all of you, and an easy preparation for Pesach!