Saturday, February 13, 2010

Week in Seven Words #2

The plaintive sound my ceiling made before a portion of it collapsed.

This past Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) our congregation hosts a group of Jewish adults with Down Syndrome. It's customary at certain points in the services, both on Friday night and Saturday throughout the day, for people to give talks related to the Torah portion of the week. One of our guests takes the floor on Friday night; he smiles at us over a meticulously written page of notes and gives a talk on kindness, fellowship, and intrinsic human worth.

Certain people reveal new facets of themselves. At several points I listen to confessions of doubt, of deep personal frustrations. But not all conversations are as intense as these. There are T.V. shows and plays to talk about, funny anecdotes to share; and after a leisurely lunch I'm introduced to Bananagrams.

The child hears a set of instructions and rules for a game. The instructions are given plainly, clearly. The child nods dutifully and says she understands. But then, when the game begins, she breaks each rule repeatedly and predictably. The game fractures into a series of bright remarks, elaborate actions, colorful pantomimes. A little rainbow of childish mischief.

There's no other word that comes to mind when I think about how much tea I drink this week. I didn't stock up on some other supplies, but there's plenty of tea at hand - orange pekoe, orange spice, chamomile, cranberry apple, Earl Grey, peppermint. I have tea with almost every meal and sometimes tea instead of meals. In cold weather it's intoxicating, and the scents and flavors make for a sharp contrast with the snow and ice outdoors.

News anchors and weathermen are wild about snow. They're out in the blizzards and showers, in their coats, woolly caps, fur-trimmed hoods, shouting about how wild it is, how cold, how they've never seen anything like it. "Look how high it's gotten!" Close-ups on dozens of different footprints in the snow. Five different buses crawling down the street. Random people, bundled up and indistinguishable, struggling over what seem like the same set of miniature snow mountains on the roadside. One empty intersection after another. "Never seen anything like it!" they insist.

Superbowl Sunday - fire poppers, chicken wings, fries, salad. I'm not a fan of football - it's much more fun to watch how people react to the game. One guy is annoyed that his favorite team didn't make it to the Superbowl, so he cheers on every slip up, fumble and mishap made by both teams, while other people tell him (good-naturedly for the most part) to shut up.