Why destroying free food sources is a bad idea

When food prices soar and people are struggling to maintain food security, those who annihilate free food sources completely miss the direction the wind is blowing.

Photo by Ryan Baker on Pexels.com

Right next to our home, there was an old, abandoned-looking little house with several lovely orange and lemon trees. Its elderly owner had moved to a long-term care facility and let the neighbors know they could pick the fruit to their heart’s content. We’d carefully step over the sagged low fence and bring home bags of lemons and oranges.

Time passed. Not long ago, the elderly homeowner passed and his heirs put the house up for sale. An enterprising young couple bought it, divided it into two sublet units, and cut down the beautiful old trees.

My heart broke when I saw the lush green branches being dragged to the waste disposal and left there to wait for the municipality’s truck. My kids, who saw it too, nearly cried. We stopped next to the branches for a while, picked a few last oranges, and said goodbye to the tree that had given so much to so many people over the years. Today, I saw they were preparing to pour concrete over the place where the trees had stood.

It’s not the first time we have recently witnessed fruit trees being decimated. Just a few weeks ago, our municipality uprooted two ancient, magnificent trees from which people in the neighborhood used to pick olives every year. Some bean-counter must have decided that fruit trees aren’t worth their annual upkeep, like pruning or removing falling fruit.

Here’s what I think. I believe that when food prices soar and people are struggling to maintain food security, those who annihilate free food sources completely miss the direction the wind is blowing.

Luckily, we still have plenty of abandoned yards and public spaces where we can pick lemons, oranges, and tangerines. They might be smaller and have more pits than regular varieties you’d find in the store, which might be the reason why most people don’t bother with them, but they’re perfectly good for juicing.

In Judaism, fruit trees hold a special place and it’s generally forbidden to cut them down for no good reason. I think it’s one of the greatest pieces of wisdom in Jewish lore – the respectful, almost reverent attitude toward sources of food and life.

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Spring is coming

One of our pullets enjoying some fresh greens.

With the days getting longer and warmer, and everything around lush and green after abundant rains, it’s probably the most beautiful time of the year. It’s also the one I hate the most.

From last week: Oznei Haman, the traditional Purim cookies.

Never mind the odd shapes. You know what this means, right? Purim is behind us and Pesach is ahead. A time of chaos and stress in so many Jewish households.

I’ve struggled with this time of the year so long. I’ve tried to embrace it. But now I’m finally done pretending and can say with total honesty – I hate Pesach prep.

I hate what it does to my schedule. I hate that it makes me miss out on beautiful healthy outdoor time at the loveliest season of the year. I hate that it makes me brush my children aside. I hate the exhaustion and rumbling stomach from not having time to cook. I hate having to overhaul my kitchen twice in one week: all-year to Pesach dishes and back again.

I do what is probably considered less than the bare minimum in most Jewish households. And yet for me, it’s always too much.

So I’m done trying to find something nice about this period of intense cleaning. I’ll just mark the end of Pesach in the calendar and wait eagerly for the time when I can get my life back.

Living through another lockdown

I’m failing to keep up with what’s going on in the rest of the world, but Israel is going through another lockdown, and I feel like I’m nearing the end of my rope. I’m not alone, either.

Things are mostly closed, except for food and pharma. Places are shut up and businesses are going bust. COVID statistics are frightening. Hospitals are nearing maximum capacity and we’re all going to suffer from further overload.

There’s something profoundly unsettling about having to keep away from people – to meet a friend and then be restricted to talking awkwardly from a distance through a mask, without being able to give a hug.

No library. No swimming pool. But thankfully, the heat is letting up enough for us to plan some hiking and spending time in the open air during this week of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).

I have some friends who have taken this whole crappy period as an incentive to do lots of house remakes and upgrades. Me? I feel like I have weights on my arms and legs. I just slug through work, food prep, basic cleaning, and some reading and crochet to keep sane.

I keep counting my blessings. We’re all in good health. I

live in a large house with a yard, trees, chickens, etc. We have a large supply of books and craft supplies. There are plenty of educational and entertaining stuff on the Web. I work from home and have a flexible schedule.

How many people have it way, WAY harder?!

Still, I find it hard to shake off this heavy, heavy oppressive feeling. And I’m sending this post out there as a big virtual hug for all the people who feel the same.

Stay safe, guys. And stay sane. Hug your kids. Do that puzzle. Bake those cookies. Put on some music. Do whatever makes you feel good that isn’t totally unreasonable. Be kind to yourself. You’ve got this.

Happy Rosh HaShana

This has sure been a crazy year. I know most folks choose to save their end of year recaps for December but, being Jewish, I take advantage of the opportunity.

So here are my hopes for the upcoming Jewish new year:

  1. I hope that the nutty virus that has been shaking our world upside down just decides to pack its suitcases and move along. Or, you know, that the science community finds a reliable and SAFE remedy.
  2. I send my best wishes to all the people who have suffered from Covid physically, emotionally, and financially. While not easy, this year has been prosperous for me professionally, with profitable opportunities and interesting projects. I am grateful and acknowledge my privilege. I hope we can all find a way to survive and thrive.
  3. I wish for more time to sleep and relax. And return friends’ calls. And just hang out with my sweet kids. And clean (I just wrote that last one to make myself seem more industrious 😁 I actually think I spend enough time on the house).

So I’m giving the world a big virtual hug on the cusp of this brand new year. Stay safe and well. Stay mentally healthy. And stay hopeful and creative.

Last post before Pesach

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By this time, I have cleaned both my refrigerators and things are rising to the feverish pitch that will culminate in the Seder night on Wednesday, but we’ve still had some time to spend in the garden lately and I even sneaked in a couple of short walks with the children (strictly keeping to empty, lonely places). Last week we saw this flock of cranes right next to our house.

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These birds sure aren’t doing social distancing!

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One of our little house geckos. The kids love to play with them.

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Shira tried to make a smiley egg face here, but this didn’t quite work out. 🙂 I am so extremely grateful for our plentiful and healthy eggs these days. The stores are just empty of eggs at the moment, and I’ve read they are forced to import to meet demand – no knowing what the price or quality will be.

Overall, though we are holding up pretty well, there’s just no denying the situation in the world is kind of crazy right now. I’m so looking forward to the time when it’s possible to lift the quarantine at least a bit – I miss day trips, going to the library, and getting together with friends. There are so many people around the country, from Rehovot to Maalot and from the Shomron to Ramat Beit Shemesh, who are often in my thoughts, and though social media and email thankfully make it easy to keep in touch, nothing can replace a good ol’ cup of coffee together. So this is my post-quarantine resolution: make more time to visit with friends in person.

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and enjoying spring despite the necessary limitations. No better time to start a garden if you haven’t yet!

I’m off to take all the stove knobs apart and give it a good polish.

On the Purim-Pesach highway

Purim is in two days, which officially marks the beginning of my least favorite time of the year: the weeks between Purim and Pesach.

I always say that all the Pesach prep is probably meant to really help us get into the shoes of the enslaved Israelites in Egypt. It’s more than just spring cleaning, which many people around the world do. It’s practically overhauling one’s whole house. It’s getting obsessively neurotic over every crumb and every trace of leavened bread. It’s packing and unpacking dishes, cookware, and practically all the kitchenware – twice in the span of a week.

By the end of that time, I’m just left with my tongue hanging out, desperate to have my life back.

But there is a silver lining. This period is also the absolute best time of the year to acquire various roadside finds, as people are going through their houses and closets and throw away things, often in excellent condition. You know what they say – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A big part of our furniture consists of such timely finds that have been serving us for long years now.

While I’m generally a big fan of saving space and getting rid of stuff, sometimes you just happen to be in need of something, and then you’re actually driving by and it stares you right in the face – like for example this good-as-new bed frame we had hauled home last week. After a thorough treatment with furniture polish, I can already envision how it will shine in its intended spot. Naturally, I don’t buy furniture polish – I’m currently experimenting with a few homemade, eco-friendly versions.

Happy cleaning, everyone. Remember not to work too hard and just enjoy this beautiful time of year when the earth seems to be stirring awake.

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Hanukkah and hiking

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First Hanukkah candles 

We lit the first Hanukkah candle yesterday, and of course, couldn’t resist the temptation to make something fried (I always declare that I won’t, and the kids always talk me into it).

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Then today we went for a little hike in the area where we live. The weather was beautiful, and the cyclamens and crocuses are beginning to poke out!

Wishing a happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends, and an enjoyable holiday season to the rest of ya’ll!

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