Aley Chubeza #29 – Tu B’Av, July 26-28 2010

Reminder: We’re now taking orders for Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking. You can read about Yiftah’s hand-baked, sprouted bread products here. Please send your orders by Friday. ______________________________________

A Time to Love…

“Half of Sivan, Tamuz, and Half of Av: Summer(Talmud, Baba Metziah 106b) In an act of interesting, humorous timing (and an inadvertent Internet glitch), the Hebrew Shavuot newsletter arrived in your mailboxes on Sunday… perhaps to remind us all when this summer commenced. The Talmud may promise us that we are at the end of summer, but immediately afterwards we are bestowed another warm season, as the verse continues: “Half of Av, Elul, and half of Tishrei – Heat.” Like everything else, our sages contested each other even on the question of weather forecasts. There were those who considered the middle of Av to be a break in the heat– till then they would chop trees for the altar, and “On the 15th of Av, they completed chopping wood for the Temple Altar” (Ta’anit 31a). From the middle of Av there was more humidity and they feared the trees would become wormy and ruined. Others vehemently claimed that “the end of the summer is more difficult than summer” (Yoma 29a), as Rashi explains: “Elul, the end of the summer, is more difficult than the month of Tammuz, as the air and our bodies are already heated from summer, and even the smallest heat can damage them.” Perhaps both opinions melt into one simple daily forecast: hot and humid. True, the heat is already accumulated in the body and even the coolness of morning is temporary–before 9:00 AM we remember the heat still stored inside from yesterday. And the humidity that worms within the trees definitely adds to the heaviness. At some point, the body turns indifferent to the mass of heat and humidity and simply works out of inertia. And in the midst of all this heat and humidity comes the 15th of Av- a day of joy and dance, a day of grape harvest and fig gathering, a day we lift barriers to connect, a day of forgiveness and renewal. And with the general renewal, Chubeza, too, is refreshed this week with a new Hebrew-language website. As always, special thanks to Talia, our wizard of technical support who has been working for weeks to translate this beauty to technology and back. There are still some bugs (the Sunday newsletter mailing, for instance), for which we request your patience and indulgence. Please be our quality control team– let us know what you think about the site and what calls for improvement. The English-language website version is planned to be launched in one of our “stage 2” missions. Stay tuned. The 15th of Av is the right day of the year to inaugurate our site, which we use to maintain our dialogue and connection with you in building a community-based farm. Historically, it is a middle-of-the-summer holiday, a partner of Tu B’Shvat which took place exactly half a year ago, when we celebrated the beginning of the bloom. Now we are enjoying the season that marks the end of this process: summer is the peak of the grape and fig harvest, and the other fruits also massively ripening on the trees. The Hebrew word for summer, קיץ (kayitz) was used in the past to describe the season of fruit harvesting, specifically figs. This time of fruit-in-abundance required much work, and the entire community would pitch in for the grape harvest and for picking other ripening fruits. Those who ever spent time on Kibbutz may remember the general “recruitment” to various tasks in the orchards or fields. I am assuming the atmosphere in times of yore was similar: a large group of young men and women working together, and to ease the burden of early rising and a heavy workload, they passed the time joking, singing and flirting. This happiness makes it is easier to bear the heat and humidity, as the companionship and the sweetness of the fruit distracts the mind from temperature and nurtures love to bloom. In the popular description of Tu B’Av, the maidens of Israel donned white and went out to dance in the vineyards. But today’s countryside is decked in white of yet a different kind—the beautiful chatzav flowers (“squill” in English, from the hyacinth family; the traditional harbingers of autumn) are in bloom, utilizing the little moisture that has begun to accumulate in the air to dress up the country in white. It’s not the colorful festivity of springtime, but rather the cleanliness of new beginnings, the hope for cooler weather. The chatzav is so impressive in its bold bloom. The chatzav bursts into flower every year around Tu B’Av, as Israeli nature religiously follows the lunar calendar. This year both Tu B’Av and the chatzav arrived early for the Gregorian sun-based calendar, with their debut at the end of July. In our field, we feel the days moving forth with the first of our new vegetables. We welcomed the okra some few weeks ago, and our green soy (edamame) has begun ripening, with larger quantities to grow in time. This week we picked our first peppers, still green, but on their way to red ripening within a few weeks. The popcorn as well, whose yellow poles stand tall and erect in the field, is making signs that it has reached the picking stage, and we will soon examine its situation. Expect popping snacks over the next few weeks. (My Neta has been waiting for this from the beginning of summer, from the day she heard we planted the first corn seeds. She thinks sweet corn is OK, but asks again and again, “When will the popcorn be ready??”) We are beginning to prepare for autumn, ordering plants and seeds for our August planting: the first broccoli and cauliflower, followed by the rest of the autumn and winter vegetables, which have already been ordered from the nursery. Of course, the summer vegetables are still going strong- tomatoes, which have been growing in abundance, cherry tomatoes, various types of beans, big pumpkins (only some of which have been picked; the rest are waiting in the field), squash, peppers, and of course, corn, which we hope to keep enjoying for a few more months. And before we end, hearty congratulations and wishes for much happiness to Rona of the Yotav Dairy who is marrying Nir tonight (Monday). May you enjoy many happy, healthy years together! Here’s to some coolness in the horizon! Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team ________________________ This week’s basket includes: Monday: cucumbers, Thailand beans or black-eyed peas or okra, cherry tomatoes, melon, butternut squash, pumpkin, tomatoes, basil, scallions, lettuce, eggplant and dill. In the large box, in addition: pumpkin, soy, potatoes Wednesday: pumpkin, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants or cucumbers, green onions, butternut squash, cilantro, okra or edamame, potatoes, red peppers, cherry tomatoes. In the large box, in addition: melon, yard long beans or cowpeas, parsley _________________________ This week, due to a problem with our Internet connection in the office, I wasn’t able to research recipes. My sincere apologies