Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Windows: A Leaf from Her Book

Lea Weiss

As we crossed the living room threshold, we were greeted by a jungle. A multitude of pots and planters filled with clambering flora.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

leaf

Photo: Shutterstock

Ispent most of my formative years in the car. Ta, ever adoring of vast expanses of grass, had relocated the family from Boro Park to Monsey shortly before my birth. While those left behind had insisted they would join us “one day,” they never did. Nearly every week we would swish down the woodsy Palisades while I wrestled with motion sickness.

When we — eventually — arrived at my grandparents’ block, my siblings and I would scramble out before Ma started the endless search for parking. We traipsed along the harsh gray cement, turning in by the familiar white metal fence, then up the red-painted concrete steps. Summoned by our over-pressing of the bell, Babi would shuffle eagerly from the depths of the house to welcome us in. 

As we crossed the living room threshold, we were greeted by a jungle. A multitude of pots and planters filled with clambering flora occupied the territory before the sunny front windows. No neatly manicured display, this; the fronds and branches were messily upheld by supportive sticks, creeping expansively, unrestrictedly. 

Ma herself found the local nurseries irresistible; she’d often triumphantly display a new cactus, succulent, or an orchid. Yet these finds were placed strategically about our house, not chaotically clumped together, as Babi opted to. 

Unlike my older siblings, I had grown up with farmland in the back, and numerous maples in the front, including my beloved “birthday tree.” In mid-October, the lush, sky-eclipsing greenery in front of my bedroom window miraculously morphed into a fiery vista, reds and oranges and yellows. A gift, I decided, for me alone. A rolling park was but five houses away, complete with winding, picturesque pathways through a verdant forest. I took such vegetation for granted and it did not dawn upon me until, well, now, that Babi’s conservatory was a pursued mission.

Photo: Shutterstock

In the years following Zeidy’s passing, Babi would visit our “country home” in the summers. When I plodded home from day camp, I’d find her sitting in the dappled shade of twisting branches, absorbed in a book. I dutifully pecked her on the cheek, and she’d reluctantly wrench her attention from her reading. She’d blink dreamily, then smile absentmindedly before lapsing back into her contented trance. We barricaded ourselves indoors, air conditioner humming, while she remained out there for hours, frighteningly immobile compared to her usual restlessness and chattiness. What was it that called to her so, that she braved the heat and humidity we found so unbearable? Her own daughter could not say.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time