I didn't make it to pseudomonas' party for Pseudojonathan's birthday aka the Jewish new year for trees. This is because I was invited to a New Year party months ago, and the party had to be postponed until this weekend due to the host's ill health. I hadn't realized until I arrived that she hadn't just picked an arbitrary date a month after NYE, but instead had intentionally moved the party to the new year for trees.
So we had a tu bishevat seder, which originally was a mystical tradition where you do passover-ish things on the new year for trees. The liturgy we used came from something the local youth movement had put together a few years ago, so rather than mystical symbolism we had a lot of Zionism and environmentalism. We didn't take ourselves too seriously though, and I think we did manage the requisite 15 varieties of fruit. Let's see: figs, dates, scorfs, pineapple, redcurrants, raisins, nuts, pears, kiwis, passion fruit, bananas, apricots, phrysalis, mango, and ok, we may have counted chocolate as the fifteenth fruit, in the form of some extremely decadent chocolate tortes.
B's friends are a really fascinating crowd, ranging over several decades in age and an impressive number of nationalities. As well as eating tasty food and running through the ceremony in a delightfully discursive way, we did a lot of singing. B played the violin, a couple of her guests took turns at the piano, and there was a guitar player who is also a very skilled singer. I was already getting sentimental over Naomi Shemer songs, so I was a lost cause when they put on a CD of the setting of verses from Song of Songs that I used to be utterly in love with, and which I now associate with several different kinds of loss and grief. I was invited to suggest some "English" songs, but was doubly disadvantaged by the fact that English people don't get together and sing folk songs, and the fact that I'm hopelessly unmusical. Anyway it was a great evening, and my Swedish is coming on quite nicely.
As you might expect, at this lattitude it isn't really the weather for a spring festival. It has been warmer this week, at least; it's an odd sensation to go out and notice that the air feels positively soft, with the thermometer reading +5 instead of -5. And the birds seem to be singing as if the fact that it was cold and now it's not so cold means that it must be spring. The downside is that the snow is melting, but it isn't melting very fast so there's a lot of ice around. I knew intellectually that ice is more dangerous than snow, but now I know it in my body, in the scrapes and bruises from falling over all the time, in my muscles aching from having to pay conscious attention to locomotion instead of using the gait which has been automatic for a quarter of a century. It was definitely a bad sign when a woman older than my grandmother offered to give me her arm because I looked so unsteady...