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The Fireworks of June (Lich’vod a Very Special Occurrence)
Rabbi Hillel L. Yarmove ©
Hey, wait a minute! Don’t I mean “the fireworks of July”?
You see, the pyrotechnics which I’m addressing in my column this month are thoroughly natural (although I could make a case that the strontium salt which is used in a Roman candles is also the derivative of a “natural” substance—but I won’t!).The Common Catalpa tree, the Red Cedar, the Linden tree, and the Yucca plant are (to my way of thinking, at least) the “fireworks” to which I am alluding.
Ah, the Catalpa tree, with its heart-shaped leaves and long seed pods: Beautiful—but just wait until you glimpse the thimble-shaped orange-striped, purple-dotted flowers which light up this tree in late spring and early summer. “Ravishing” would clearly be a more precise term for such astonishing loveliness!
And the Red Cedar tree: Well, as you probably know (right?), this hardy evergreen is really a juniper, not a true cedar. That doesn’t stop it from being the source of the wood for cedar closets and kitty litter. Why, I still remember trying my hand at whittling (carving) various objects from that soft red-brown, exceedingly aromatic wood. And oh, those tall Red Cedars: how their branches swayed hypnotically in the lazy New England summer breezes of my youth!
As for the Linden tree—or American Basswood (as it is also known in this country)—the early June yellow blossoms, borne on “winged stalks” known to botanists as bracts, literally perfume the air with an almost intoxicating aroma. In fact, if you attended Telshe Yeshiva in Wickliffe (near Cleveland), Ohio, you still remember the almost overpowering yet delightful smell of a large Linden tree which grew near a fork in the road on the way to the beis medrash there. Interestingly enough, in France Linden blossoms are used in French cuisine. There’s even a festival in late spring or early summer which focuses on this tree’s contributions to that nation’s cooking (yes, the French really do make pancakes which have Linden blossoms as one of their major ingredients!). And just as with the Catalpa tree, its leaves are heart-shaped.
The Yucca plant, otherwise known as Adam’s Needles, sports a basal rosette of sword-like leaves which stand in stark contradistinction to its spikes of creamy-white flowers. June is the “glory-month” for this member of the Agave (or Lily) family, which used to be found primarily in the southwest United States but which today may commonly be seen in our Lakewood neighborhoods. What amazing magnificence!
Four kinds of “natural, color-saturated, attention-riveting “natural June fireworks,” created by the Basheffer Himself! Fantastic!
Such being the case, who really needs artificial July fireworks? Instead, just give me these June pyrotechnics any time.
But especially NOW! Why is that?
For I have recently learned that my dear grandson Yeshaya Yarmove has become a chassan. Mazel tov to you, to your very special kallah, Miriam Isbee, and to all the mechutanim. May the colors and excitement of June’s natural fireworks display become emblematic of the beautiful Divinely sanctioned union of two wonderfully caring people. And may all Klal Yisroel derive as much nachas from this new bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael as that which those who have raised and nurtured both chassan and kallah are presently experiencing.
So come on! Bring on those June fireworks. Let’s hear it now for Yeshaya and Miriam: Mazel tov! Mazal tov! Mazel tov!
NOW AND FOREVER MORE!
I may be reached at email@example.com. Have a wonderfully edifying summer, dear readers!