Ok. I admit it. I am a Facebook/Farmville addict. I love getting my crops planted, watching them grow, taking care of my livestock and planting and harvesting all of my wonderful trees; albeit all virtually. No I don’t get my hands dirty and don’t smell like a cow barn when I am through, but I get such satisfaction of choosing the crops, animals and helping my neighbors.
I have a Farmville neighbor (yes, a virtual neighbor) who has planted his whole farm with trees. There are a few animals running around but mostly trees. I love to virtually visit his farm. It seems like such a peaceful place. A virtual land of plenty. If there are trees, especially if they harvest food, I feel like I could want for nothing more.
But, once a year, in the middle of the coldest part of winter, I leave the animated world of virtual trees and concentrate on the real ones all around us. Yes, this time of year, in Boulder, Colorado, it is difficult to enjoy the trees. No fruit, no foliage, sometimes covered with snow, and even the shade is not helpful. But this is the season for the birthday of the trees, Tu B’shvat.
When we were in Israel this summer, we were invited to visited a boostan on our old kibbutz, Maagan Michael. A boostan is a tree garden (mix between an orchard and a grove) and the one on the kibbutz was like Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). Banana trees, date trees, many varieties of citrus, vines with grapes, olives, pomegrantes, figs, kiwi, avocado, lichee. It was made as a hobby by one of the kibbutzniks. Just for enjoyment. Trees for enjoyment. Yes. As a tree hugger, I can agree.
And unlike Farmville, where my crops and trees will produce all year, no matter the season, in the real world there are seasons for crops. Tu B’Shvat -the 15th day of Shvat on the Jewish calendar-was chosen as the “birthday of the trees” because in Israel that is when the trees begin their fruit bearing.
On Tu B’Shvat, we eat fruit from trees listed in the Torah: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.
Per Devarim 20;19, “We are all a tree in a field” but really we all owe our existence to trees. So, let us celebrate on January 30th, by eating their fruits, remembering the boostans in Israel, and getting out of our virtual boostans. Let’s go to our real trees here in Colorado, water them a bit and maybe even give them a hug.
So, Happy Tu B’Shvat and happy farming!