Hey, remember the old days, when, between winter and summer, there was a season called spring?
I kind of feel like spring used to be this whole major season. When I was growing up, I feel like we had a couple of months every year when it was about 60 degrees out. Now we basically go straight from winter to summer, except that sometimes, for a couple of weeks in there, we have about maybe two weeks when it’s 40 in the morning and 80 in the afternoon. Though I guess that does average out to 60. But it also means my son goes to school in the morning in a winter coat and comes home without it. I think we just leave a new winter coat at the school every day.
I’m not even sure why this is happening. If there were no winter, I could say, “global warming,” and if there were no summer, I could say, “global cooling,” but what do I say if there’s no spring?
We’re also not sure how to turn on the air-conditioners for Shabbos, because the nights are freezing and the days are boiling. (We have window air conditioners, because, like most of Passaic, our house was built before the discovery of science.) Do we turn them on and freeze through the night, or do we turn them off and spend the afternoon seudah picking at our cholent? Our idea, sometimes, is: What if we turn off the upstairs units and turn on the downstairs ones?
“Yeah,” you say, “but what about afternoon naps?”
We can keep flipping our pillow. It’s just a few hours.
“But what about the Friday-night seudah?”
It’s OK; we’ll have soup to counteract them.
Not to mention that we had to put the air-conditioners in to begin with, which is a process that includes climbing a ladder in a hot garage, climbing back down holding a 300-lb. air-conditioner and not the ladder, schlepping the unit up the stairs, and carefully installing it in a window in a way that even if it falls out, we should at least get enough of a warning so we can lunge and grab the wire, and then I have to go down and get another unit, and so on, all on a day when it’s 90 degrees out. And the whole time I’m wondering, “Why didn’t we put the air-conditioners in yesterday?”
“It was snowing yesterday.”
My wife isn’t crazy about this lack of springtime either, because she likes to plant a garden in the spring so we can have some surprise vegetables come August, on top of the vegetables she’s going to buy at the store either way, and she’s supposed to plant this garden when it’s not too hot or too cold, but this year, for example, she had a doctor’s appointment that day.
I’m not even sure we have a fall season anymore either. Last year, on the first two days of Sukkos, it was over 90 degrees outside. Plus my in-laws were over, plus they like soup, plus the neighbors behind us—about three feet from our patio—decided that those were the best two days to build some kind of gazebo or outdoor kitchen or something, which, judging by the amount of sawing that was going on over all of our conversations, they were carving out of a single block of wood, and all I could think about was, “Isn’t the point of Sukkos being in the fall that this isn’t the time of the year the general public builds gazebos?”
And on top of that, apparently some kind of animal had been making itself at home on our patio before we built the sukkah, and we didn’t really realize that the smell wasn’t going away until erev Sukkos, at which point we tried to get rid of it with every chemical we could think of, none of which worked, so the heat was baking the combined smell into a visible cartoonish haze. Then, for one seudah, we served a milchig salad featuring goat cheese, and one of my kids said, “I don’t want to eat it. It smells like goats!” and then for the rest of the seudah, everything smelled like goats, and everyone lost their appetite.
But what happened to eating in the sukkah with a coat on? Isn’t that our family minhag? My mother-in-law seemed to think so, because every single meal she came out in a coat. Which she then left in the sukkah.
(I’m just kidding. She kept it on until she went inside. She doesn’t like to be wrong.)
But fall notwithstanding, spring used to be the best season, because that’s when you’re looking forward to hot weather without remembering that hot weather is actually hot.
And think of all the wonderful things that come with spring: spring flowers, spring vegetables, spring cleaning, spring chicken, spring water, springing things on people… And those are just the ones that spring to mind.
And what about open windows? If there’s no real spring, when can we open our windows and air out our house? And hear the neighbors washing dishes and think there’s someone in our kitchen? If you can’t air out your house from the winter, how are you going to get rid of that unique smell that people are hit with when they come in your front door, which everyone smells but you?
Plus, if we actually have temperate weather, we can eat outside! I’m not talking about walking down the street with a plate of spaghetti. I’m talking having a meal in the backyard without shivering or baking. Or the smell of goats and the sound of gazebos.
Spring is supposed to be the season of life! It’s supposed to be a time when you can stop and smell the roses! Unless you’re allergic to pollen. Then you should stay far away from roses. And it happens to be that according to experts on the matter, in years that we go straight from winter to summer, the pollen shows up all at once and it’s much worse. The experts said more, but we had to leave because of all their sneezing.
Sure, there’s still life. I do see Canadian geese walking around town in pairs of two, presumably on shidduch dates, sipping from ponds, crossing streets really slowly, and having awkward, nervous conversations.
“So where do you see yourself in five years?”
“Either here or in Canada. I don’t know. Spring is going away.”
The only thing I don’t really like about spring is the neither-here-nor-there Shabbos start time. I like mid-winter Shabbosos because of the long Friday nights and long motzaei Shabbosos, and I like the mid-summer Shabbosos because of the long Friday afternoons and long Shabbos afternoons. My perfect Shabbos would have a long Friday afternoon, long Friday night, long Shabbos afternoon, and long motzaei Shabbos. And I know that in reality this would amount to a two-day Shabbos, but I’m OK with that.
Apparently, I like everything long. I don’t love the short Friday nights when no one wants to come to your house for meals because they want to put their kids to bed before the seudah, or they sit there and say, “I’m not really supposed to eat this late at night,” like you decided what time Shabbos would start. I don’t love short Shabbos afternoons, because by the time you finish the lunch seudah with guests, you don’t get a nap, and then you have to force-feed yourself shalosh seudos at three in the afternoon. I don’t like short Friday afternoons because I like to have time to cook for Shabbos, and I don’t like short motzaei Shabbosos because nothing’s open. Where is one supposed to get pizza? And by the time you finish dishes, it’s basically time to go to bed, except that you had a seven-hour Shabbos nap by mistake.
And people ask, “Then shouldn’t you like the spring, when everything is neither here nor there?” and I say, “I don’t want neither here nor there. I want it long.” I’m never sitting there on a long Friday night, playing a game with my family, saying, “This is too long.” Nor am I ever sitting around on Shabbos afternoon learning with my kids and saying, “Oh my goodness; I can’t believe we’re still learning! When will shalosh seudos come? I only had a three-course lunch!”
But the thing is that time goes back and forth over the course of the year, like the weather does, except that time moves reliably at about 1–2 minutes per day. It never just suddenly jumps by like an hour.
Well, actually it does. But that’s intentional, twice a year. We put that in there. It’s like the government decided they don’t like the middle-of-the road Shabbosos either, where Shabbos slowly inches through the sixes at a rate of like eight minutes a week, so they decided to skip it in the spring and the fall.
Is Hashem doing that with the weather? Has someone been davening for this? Is someone saying, “I like winters and summers, but spring is neither here nor there. I can’t go swimming and I can’t go sledding. I have winter clothes and summer clothes. What do you want from me?
They probably are. We see people davening for nice weather all the time, and kids keep davening for snow, regardless of the seasons. But no one is davening for anything in between.
Please stop. We’re breaking the environment.
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com. Read more of Mordechai Schmutter’s articles at 5TJT.com.