By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF
He knows not of Spring.
So, tell him what warm winds bring.
Like peaches and plums, apples and figs.
They’ll soon reappear with birds on the wing.
Please explain to him about Spring.
The white blossoms of the pear tree outside my den window remind me of a Midrash I just made up.
Picture the Garden of Eden in late March and picture Adam sitting on a comfortable rock; his head spinning around to take in this exciting, brave, new world that his Creator has made for him. For did the Lord not make “every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,” says Genesis.
It was vividly beautiful for a few months, then it grew cold. Earth’s first inhabitant needed more than a fig leaf to shield his shivering body. And worse, the flowers died a doleful death and the trees shed their leaves like the flowers shed their beauty. For months poor, benighted Adam gazed at the corpse of what was once a fairyland. Bare limbs – fruitless limbs. No more reaching out for a plump fig; fresh, you know, not trucked in from California. And free. Remember that this first human knew not the meaning of that 4-letter word, “work.”
Well, I guess this is like life, he thought. It comes and goes like flowers and the green of the meadows. Such a brief span. I’ve only seen a few dozen sunsets. I’ll be gone like the leaves and the green of the grass. I’ll revert to dirt. He sat by the big rock and mourned his departure. He linked his fate to the death of nature. “So short,” he repeated over and over. Soon it would end. “All this beauty will be a barren wasteland. The rivers probably will dry up, too.”
The Lord looked down on his first human creation. The angels took in the scene. The tearful two-legged creature and the Lord’s sympathy. Being musically talented, the more creative angels quickly composed a jazz chant: “He doesn’t know about Spring. Tell him what warm winds bring. Like peaches and plums, apples and figs. And rhey will soon reappear with birds on the wing. Please explain to him about Spring”. This they chanted to the Creator of Summer and Fall and Winter and Spring.
Well, the Lord didn’t need any angelic advice. “The man is only lonesome and hungry. He needs a companion that’s bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” So, He put the man to sleep, formed Eve from a superfluous rib that he didn’t need, and reached over the horizon of time into Spring for an armload of fruit.
Adam awoke and started chewing on a juicy peach, even as the Lord gracefully and formally introduced him to the flesh of his flesh and the bone of his bone – which hardly seemed necessary. They were one.
But she explained to Adam that a nice, neatly swept out cave was warmer than squatting by that big rock. And she showed him roots and tubers and dried out fruits that could satisfy his hunger.
But he was still morose. “Nature has fled Eden. Soon the Creator will terminate us – we’ll revert to dirt.”
Eve smiled. Like one who bets on a race already run and won. “We’ll see,” said she.
You know the end of the story. The year’s cycle revolved and Spring smiled warmly on an impatient world. Adam smiled, too. “Maybe life is longer than I thought. Life doesn’t end when the trees go bare and the birds depart.” There’s more! There’s more!