What a joyful time to be in Israel. The upcoming holiday of Purim which is really only a one-day holiday lasts for a month here, or so I'm told. The evidence has been out for a couple of weeks as you can go into any bakery and find freshly baked hamantashen (triangular cookie with filling) and depending on where you go you can even hear Purim songs on the street! The kids are all excited and they have begun singing new Purim songs and making their plans (and arguing over the "correct" version of the songs.) L is working on a new musical with a Purim theme. She did mention that it's hard to make a happy show with the underlying theme of attempted wiping out of all the Jews. Hmmm, by a man from Persia. This is sounding too familiar.
Well, back to the joy. Right now the orange trees are blooming everywhere. This does also mean oranges on the sidewalks and as we were walking down the street the other day, L picked up an orange and asked if she could eat it. N responded with "First you have to know that the tree is 4 years old, then you have to make sure terumot and maasrot have been taken (a kosher issue), and then you have to have permission from the owner." I paused. How do you know that? "Oh, we learned it in school." Apparently he is understanding more than I realized. Lately, he has been telling me that he can't wait to get to school. Clearly not for the classes. No, dear readers, I think his longing to be in class is a very distant dream. It is because he has taken an interest in soccer. I have come to see how sports can be a great equalizer. Even though we moved from a place where it is quite en vogue to play soccer, N was never really interested. Here, though, it is so popular and he has started playing with the neighborhood kids and his classmates at recess. The other day he told me his favorite player is a fellow named Henry (which is his last name.) How this information is obtained I will never know. I have always found the children's information network so interesting. I remember in Kansas my children being able to tell me entire plot lines from tv shows or movies they had never seen. This was not something unique to them and it is b/c of the children's information network. But I digress. L is having a great time at basketball and last week even got the award for best player at the practice. She was beaming; she was so proud.
Over Shabbat, we went to the Shomron region of Israel to stay with friends. It was a really great Shabbat. In the morning we were all in the backyard and the views of the mountain/hilltops are just amazing. A looked out and declared "Eretz Yisrael is so beautiful." And in deed it is. In the afternoon we took a walk with our friends and saw blooming almond trees, olive bushes and several species of flowers along the way. I am always struck by how Israelis seem to know so much about the local flora and fauna. This is apparently learned in school, and is such a great way to connect to the land. Everyone in their town is traditionally observant so there are no cars on the roads on Shabbat. This means that kids and adults walk freely on the streets, which rocked Ariella's world. When she first saw kids on the street she ran to me for fear that their negligent mothers were going to allow them to be hit by a car. We finally convinced her that no one drives on Shabbat in this town and it is safe only on Shabbat to be on the street. Once it sunk in she asked me to walk on the sidewalk so that she could experience the unadulterated pleasure of walking on the street by herself. Anyway, we had a great time and stopped to see other friends on the way home which made for a pretty late night. Today (Sunday) I let them all sleep in and have started thinking that maybe Sunday should just become a late day for us. Now that I am in-between ulpan and working (assuming my license is ever granted) it is a luxury we can have and I think will make for a more relaxed start to the school week.