sukkah adventures at the new house

Posted: October 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

Last night was the second night of Sukkot, which is my favorite Jewish holiday.  First we had Rosh Hashanah, which I told you all about two entries ago.  Then the next week was Yom Kippur, which we spent in Skokie at the synagogue – I think my previous blog linked here captures that one still, though this time the heat was working in the building, so I was only “fasting” cold rather than “freezing” cold!  I’m really loving the “reset” that those two holidays did for my understanding of where I am – we need refreshed once in awhile, don’t we?

And now, Sukkot!  It boils down to this:  we celebrate/remember how God brought the Israelites through that long desert journey by building an outdoor structure (sukkah), in which we eat our meals and/or sleep.

At our previous (rental) home, we had a wonderful deck with a roof (technically incorrect for Sukkot, since it had a permanent roof through which no light could be seen, but G is not a legalistic stickler) and each year I reveled in the fun of dragging our actual mattress and box springs out there to sleep for the week.

But this house that we bought and love – it has no such structure.  So in the midst of planning G’s surprise party, I bought a 10 x 30 party tent – one of those white jobbies you see at weddings – for the party, and realized after I’d ordered it that it could be used for the sukkah as well.  The tent was quite inexpensive, for what it was; Amazon reviews guided me on ways to reinforce it to make it functional, and both the manufacturers and the reviewers were clear:  this is not made to be up in “weather.”  Don’t just leave it up.

So when the party was over, I was ready to take it down – or at least take the canvas part off and just leave the PVC frame up – but G was confident.  The weather ahead looked perfect, according to his phone.  We didn’t have the sides on it for the party – just the top and the poles.  Surely it would be fine standing there.  I didn’t put up much of an argument, being tired from all the party stuff.

We took off for Chicago for Yom Kippur for two days.  And arrived home to find the tent experiencing technical difficulties.

We fought with it for the next couple of days, continually righting it and the wind laughing and taking it back down again, twisting it into some kind of pretzeled-up thing that must have made the neighbors wonder about the lunatics who moved onto their block.

Then came Monday – the day to get the sukkah set up.  I sent G to the hardware store for REAL tent stakes, not the little thinner-than-a-pencil things that came with the tent, and also REAL rope, not the little tiny nylon string that was included.  It took two trips to the store (in which G purchased 3 different types of heavy duty stakes, effectively wiping out the store’s stock of stakes) and an entire day of wrestling with the thing in the wind, but by day’s end we had it tied securely down, with the sides all attached, and even properly decorated.

It’s huge.  Being a 10 x 30 structure means we can have a hammock (just for fun hanging out) at one end, our queen-sized air mattress in the middle, and a table and chairs at the other end, with tons of room to spare.  We dug out our deck lights to decorate.  Part of the sukkah involves using branches; happily we’d had to cut some off our tree back to fit the sukkah where we wanted it, so we had fresh branches on hand.  It came out pretty nice; here it is before we added the air mattress (I realized we didn’t get more photos taken after that.)

sukkah

If you weren’t setting up a sukkah on Monday (or aren’t from around here) you might not know:  it was REALLY WINDY that day.  Getting the thing up and standing was hard.  The wind worked at it continually all day; all the little velcro things that hold the canvas to the frame were ripping out before sundown.  There is a lot of twine and duct tape holding the thing together, and the tent is enjoying its final tour of duty – the poles will go in the trash when we take it down, and the pieces of canvas will be kept for drop cloths.  But it has served well, for what we paid for it.

We enjoyed supper in the sukkah Monday night, and also spent a bit of time lounging around in that great hammock, which fits us both at the same time, believe it or not.  But the night was not a success.  The wind blew and blew.  It was unseasonably hot Monday and Tuesday, so we weren’t stressed about being cold in the sukkah, but to quote Dr. Suess, “Oh, the noise noise noise NOISE!”  We went to bed at our usual ridiculous early hour (7:30, which is pretty late for us); I am grateful that it’s already dark at that hour outside.  We stayed on the air mattress until 10 PM, being still, keeping our eyes closed, stubbornly attempting sleep.  But the wind was so alive it felt like some kind of mischievous tormentor, trying to tear the tent down around us.  The canvas heaved and buckled noisily; with every shift of direction it sounded like someone was maybe tearing out one of the sides to let themselves in.  I’m not a nervous sort and didn’t believe the noise, but it sure kept me from sleeping.  Finally, at 10, we gave up and went into our house to sleep for the night.

Last night was much better.  The air was still and miraculously the sukkah is still standing after that first blustery night.  We took an electric blanket out with us (loaned by a generous and thoughtful coworker) and I dressed in what is, for me, normal sukkah sleeping wear:  winter-weight running tights, wool socks, long t-shirt, and hoodie with the hood up and tied; perfect for the return of actual October temperatures.  I took gloves and stashed them under my pillow, just in case.  The electric blanket is a wonderful change from sleeping under 6 blankets, which is what we did at the previous place.  That was an important change, because sleeping on an air mattress means we needed the other blankets UNDER us to keep the cold from approaching from that direction.

I slept better last night than I have in a long while.  Not even one bathroom break.  Hardly any rolling around at all.  Was it the cold night air?  Was it God just blessing me for obedience to His directive for this holiday?  I don’t know.  I just know, it was fun.

We still have I think 5 more nights in the sukkah.  I’m praying the weather is more like last night and not so much like Monday night.  Meanwhile, I’m meditating on the miracles of the way God provided for the Israelites, and the (much more familiar to me) ways He has provided for me, too many times to count.

He’s a good, good God.

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