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Tree Hugger’s Holiday

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My name is Pamela and I am a tree hugger.

My affinity for trees blossomed in the years that I attended Haverford College, where I would sit under the majestic Beech in the quad, knowing that I’d found my happy place. It’s also entirely possible that I was born a tree hugger and was drawn to Haverford by the sprawling Osage Orange adjacent to Magill Library. The entire campus is an arboretum, designed by English landscape gardener William Carvill in 1834.

As a confirmed tree hugger, today is my holiday.

In the Jewish calendar, today is the festival of the trees, known in Hebrew as Tu B’Shevat (15th of Shevat). According to the sages who lived in the land of Israel in the first century, this is the time of year that trees’ sap begins to rise, a harbinger of spring. It is also my 22nd wedding anniversary.

Although we chose our wedding date using the secular calendar, I was delighted to discover that it corresponded to Tu B’Shevat, and not only because I knew it would be easier for my spouse to remember our anniversary.  We decided to serve traditional Tu B’Shevat foods—dried fruits and almonds—along with wedding cake for dessert.

ketubahOur ketubah (marriage contract) is a circle, adorned with intertwining vines and flowers and handwritten by Detroit artist and calligrapher Lynne Avadenka.  After I photographed it this morning, I stood gazing at it for several minutes, contemplating the circular form that encloses the words of a dead language. These Aramaic words were read aloud as David and I stood together under the huppah (wedding canopy) on Tu B’Shevat and sealed our commitment to create a family rooted in Jewish tradition. Just as the rings in the trunk of a tree demonstrate its age, the circle around our ketubah represents the vitality of our relationship.

Today this tree hugger celebrates the beauty of trees—the jumble of roots that grounds them to the earth; the expanse of branches and leaves that offers creatures shade and protection; the oxygen they release into the air that allows us to breathe deeply.  Today I also celebrate an enduring love that was first nurtured among the Redwoods of northern California and continues to mature like the mighty Oaks of north Georgia.

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Comments (7)

Absolutely wonderful essay to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, especially with the reference to your beautiful wedding day and very meaningful Ketubbah – and the essay wasn’t “sappy” at all!

Thank you, Flora! You know that I was being “punny” when I called my piece sappy. There were a few other puns in the post, which I’m waiting for wonderful spouse to point out on Facebook. It took him nearly a full minute to comment about this pun. 😉

As I am also a confirmed tree hugger – I thank you for this.

You’re welcome, Helen! You are one of my favorite tree huggers!

Haverford??? My brother turned down a scholarship at Harvard for Haverford. You two need to meet!!

And, Happy Anniversary!! We share January remembrances of love that endures. Not to be taken lightly these days….

I love the “small world-ness” of Haverford. With only 300 graduates a year, there seem to be alumni everywhere. Would be happy to meet a fellow Ford. And thanks for the good wishes. I agree that we cannot take enduring love for granted. Ever.

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