Spring and the Middling Days of Passover
The world presents itself in two ways to me. The world as a thing I own, the world as a mystery I face. What I own is a trifle, what I face is sublime. I am careful not to waste what I own; I must learn not to miss what I face.
Rabbi Abaraham Joshua Heschel
First, moadim l’simcha!
The snow is almost entirely melted, Cove Brook is swollen and loud. The frogs have returned to the banks of the brook. The birds have returned, including the coordinated efforts of the yellow-bellied sapsuckers, tapping in little synchronized sessions. Spring is most certainly here, in time for the middle days of Pesach.
By now, we’re all sick of matzah. I’ve tried my hand a few days in a row making matzah brei for Amelia’s breakfast. Today, I was considerably lazier. You know you done right when they snivel when you don’t do something.
I hiked down to the brook for the first time in a few weeks. A remnant of snow lingered down where the sun doesn’t hit during the day, and the impression of my snowshoes from a month ago still.
The weekend prior to Pesach, Amelia and I went for another hike on Sears Island. We came down the western side of the island and then made our way back to the car from the trail that bisects the island. Later, the family went to Belfast harbor and enjoyed some shopping and walks along the waterfront.
We went to our synagogue’s community first night seder. Nezzie was a nut, running all over the place and generally making Leah and my participation nigh impossible. We find it easier to let her run than to try and truncate such behavior – she’s only a toddler once, after all. She’s generally less disruptive just being herself.
Second night, we went to our rabbi’s house. What a wonderful evening, far more intimate, the company immensely enjoyable. Our rabbi has a daughter Amelia’s age and they engaged in numerous shenanigans.
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We recently transferred Amelia from Wagner Middle School in Winterport to Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden. The staff and teachers at Wagner were tremendous, but I think some of the dynamics that play out as a consequence of Waldo County’s significant poverty issues were dragging Amelia down. It was a wake-up call for our expectations and possible privilege, but Leah and I see every day how incredibly gifted Amelia is and how she needs to be challenged academically, not socially. Indeed, the move was validated by one of the best report cards Amelia has ever brought home. I’m saddened she couldn’t find this rhythm in Winterport, but since we’re literally on the Penobscot/Waldo County line, we’re actually closer to Hampden. If we would have lived less than a quarter of a mile west on our road, she would have gone to this school anyway. And now, she’s finding herself sufficiently challenged by academics, with a set of friends she actually wants to invite over for a Lag B’Omer bonfire.
Moving to Maine is one of the best decisions we ever made for a variety of reasons. I’ve been more prolific in creativity, and I feel more productive at work, even though there are some challenges with working from a home office.
Lancaster County has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality of life for children. Bangor and the surrounds have an equivalent number of great things for kids, but many of them are more outdoor oriented. We lost some and gained some by moving here, but for my part, my ability to give my children great outdoor experiences, always a goal as a life long member of the Sierra Club, has increased exponentially. Amelia still has a margin to excel without the intense competition she faced from peers back in Pennsylvania. A less crowded life means more elbow room for success.
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Finally, Amelia and I took advantage of the last nice chol chomoed day of Pesach to head to Acadia and walk the Great Head Trail. Great tidepool exploration, phenomenal views of the bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
As always, it’s the talks on our journeys that make the trip worthwhile. She’s flattered by the attention of boys. She’s making great friends. She’s excited about a music camp this year with her clarinet. She’s equally excited about a marine biology camp. She’s big into multimedia artistry, something I’m keen on indulging due to its relationship to the STEM world. But most importantly, she continues to astound me with the depths she keeps to herself. I’m satisfied that my Amelia retains a little bit of mystery for herself. She is guarded where her younger sister is not, a byproduct of not able being able to trust the adults in her life at an early age.
This year, of course, she is free, but as I’m reminded on Pesach, we often set our own boundaries around our freedom. I look at the views of a wide open world, or the ebb and flow of the tide, and I only want to inhabit the boundaries nature imposes. It’s a tall order, when some of the constraints we impose on ourselves are probably necessary, or come with experience.