April 15th-17th 2019 – There is no time like Spring

No deliveries on Chol Hamoed, so you will not be receiving your vegetables on Monday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 24. But… if the vegetables don’t come to you, you can come to them!

On Wednesday, April 24, don’t miss our traditional Pesach Open Day in the field between 2pm-6pm. Stay tuned for more details, coming soon.

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There is no time like Spring,
Like Spring that passes by;
There is no life like Spring-life born to die, –
Piercing the sod,
Clothing the uncouth clod,
Hatched in the nest,
Fledged on the windy bough,
Strong on the wing:
There is no time like Spring that passes by,
Now newly born, and now
Hastening to die.

 – Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

There are years when the arrival of springtime is not a cause for celebration. When it follows a dry winter and we realize that this is it – the rainy season is over – we welcome spring with apprehension. Sadly, I’ve faced this haunting experience more than once in my life as a farmer: disappointment with the lack of precipitation in the previous winter and an acceptance of the spring season with a hopeful-but-heavy-heart.

But this year we’re greeting spring with sheer joy. All winter long we smiled and rejoiced with each additional dose of timely rain – in just the right measure and intervals – and alongside the clumps of earth in the field, we enjoyed a satiating and incredible winter. Thus, by springtime we may have even had enough of it. We’re fully ready for the dry season – body, heart and soul. Yes, we can gratefully bid winter farewell, and mean it when we say, Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day…

So now it’s official – spring made its grand entrance three weeks ago, and the weather decided to turn upside down and pull some spring pranks just to herald the arrival of the season. Astronomically speaking, spring begins on the day of the vernal equinox, where the length of day equals the length of night. Spring ends on the summer solstice, when the day is longest and the night is shortest. For us in the northern hemisphere, spring begins on March 21st and ends on June 21st.  Spring is traditionally known as a season for awakening, renewal and love. This is the season for wooing and romance, providing perfect weather for lovers. Or does it? Actually, the Israeli spring is not such a pleasant, temperate interlude at all.  When the European immigrants arrived here, however, they couldn’t face parting with the European season of rejuvenation and blossoming, so they simply inserted it into the Israeli calendar. But here, spring is the season of topsy-turvy weather—pleasant days which morph into rainy ones followed by a hazy heat wave, just like we’re seeing now. And indeed, regardless of the weather pattern, we know that “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

In the Bible, the term spring (aviv in Hebrew) defines a particular stage in the development of grain, the start of ripening when the stalk begins to harden. In our region, the first grain to ripen is the barley, and the month of aviv is that month when barley reaches the stage of development called “aviv.” This “aviv” of the grain occurs when the rains have diminished, the sun is shining and the temperatures are on the rise. And so, in Hebrew, this transition time between winter and summer came to be called aviv. It is also the month that the Children of Israel came out of Egypt. The book of Exodus (9:31) recounts the effects of the plague of hail, saying, “And the flax and the barley were smitten; for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten; for they ripen late.”  The short spring of the month of Nissan is indeed a fine time to go out of Egypt for a sojourn in the Sinai Desert (as those Israelis congregating in Taba will certainly attest). Rashi even wrote, “This is what he indicated to them: See the kindness which He has done to you, for He brought you forth in a month in which it is fitting to go forth, not (too) hot and not (too) cold, and no rains.” (Commentary on Exodus 13:4)

There are those who claim that the word aviv derives from the word av, meaning father, the head of the family, the first in the family, denoting the very first ear of grain during the period of ripening. Others believe that the origin of the word comes from a different meaning of av – a fresh, young plant which is presently blossoming, such as ibei ha-nachal, the “green plants of the valley” mentioned in the Song of Songs, (6:11) and “odenu be’ibo,” (whilst still in its greenness), Job 5:12.

And blossoming does indeed provide the pervading hue of the spring season, as the writer Eliezer Smoli wrote, “Anyone who traverses Eretz Yisrael at this time of the year, whether on foot or even by car, will be met by a flowering abundance wherever his eye shall turn. Like one vast colorful carpet covering the flat land from the north to the Negev, from the east to the west, mountain and valley, hill and dell, immersed in a swell of every varied color. A true celebration of flowering at this season of the year. Spring in the very fullness of the word. Yet one who looks closely at the sea of bloom before him will discern, at the very outermost part, at the edge of the dotted tapestry, a withering that is slowly creeping up, and here and there are signs of balding. It appears that out of intention and knowledge, as it were, the abundance of flowering is concentrated in one short, finite period, for behold, the rains are over and gone and the sun has emerged from its sheath. The power of the east overcomes the west, day by day. The rainy season, which fought a diligent, daily all-out war, surrendered at last to the sunny days. Upon the horizon, a misty heat wave rises and an idle breeze breaks through to cross the Jordan and swoop westward—with the withering and wilting in its wake.”

Shepherds also celebrated at Pesach. A wet winter of rich pastures led to a season of birth for lambs and goats and an abundance of milk, labeneh, cheese and butter. Can you think of a better reason to hold a celebratory feast thanking the Almighty for having endured the winter, and to pray that the entire herd grazes safely and peacefully? To this day, Bedouin shepherds dedicate the first butter of the season to Moch’an, the patriarch of nomadic shepherds. Once milking season arrives, they use a leather pouch to collect the butter made from milk produced during the first three days. On the third day, they prepare a great feast in honor of Moch’an, highlighted by a delicious taste of their brand-new butter.

On the scene at the Izza Pziza goat pen, Moshav Tal Shachar

  

During this period, beekeepers rev up for their busy season of extracting the honey from the nectar gathered during the flowering from winter till now. We, too, eagerly await this season of honey gathering leading up to the heavenly final product – sweet, natural honey from the apiaries at Ein Harod and the Golan Heights.

In nature, breeding occurs during springtime, as one swarm gives life to another. During swarm preparation, the bee scouts set out in search of a nearby location for the swarm to colonize and embark on their new lives. At this stage, they are very exposed and vulnerable. Unfortunately, this time of year coincides with Pesach cleaning which leads us to places that are usually less-than-accessible. And thus, we’ll be merrily cleaning away when suddenly we’re face to face with a young bee swarm on the wall, in a hidden corner of the garden or in the window box. And no, not everyone is happy to coexist with bees, which is why the Magen Dvorim Adom organization was established. This volunteer bee rescue squad arrives at the site to skillfully transfer the swarm to a safe place, allowing the bees to survive and continue to play their crucial role in global existence.  Learn more about the organization here (Hebrew).

Pesach, the festival of spring, ushers in the parade of agricultural holidays in Eretz Yisrael, as Nissan opens the Hebrew calendar. During this festival, farmers are happily fortified with strength that’s been restored through many hours of sleep accumulated over the slow winter season (as their memories dimmed of last summer’s scorching heat…).

After sowing in tears, the barley has ripened, heralding the time to reap in joy. At the close of the first Pesach holiday, a celebration was held to mark the barley harvest season, by the ceremonial first binding of the sheaves. This ceremony and this season were also accompanied by great apprehension. As the entire season’s crops are about to ripen and become ready to harvest, the volatile weather placed tremendous pressure upon the farmers. In the words of the Yalkut Shimoni, “At Pesach, one will not find simchah (joy) written even once. Why? For at Pesach, the yield is judged, and no one knows whether this year will bring a yield or not.”

We join in the hope and prayers that this holiday and this coming season will be blessed with honey, milk and the fruit of the land, which will bring health, peace and happiness.

Chag sameach! See you at the Open Day!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S HOLIDAY BOXES?

Monday: Beets/zucchini, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, kale/Swiss chard, parsley root/celeriac, fresh fava beans, parsley/coriander/dill.

Large box, in addition:  Baby radishes/turnips, fennel/kohlrabi, green garlic/leeks.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot, oranges, bananas, apples.

Wednesday: Beets/zucchini, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/cabbage, kale/Swiss chard, parsley root/celeriac, fennel/kohlrabi, parsley/coriander/dill.

Large box, in addition:  Baby radishes/turnips, fresh fava beans ,green garlic/leeks.

FRUIT BOXES: Clementinot, oranges, bananas, apples.