It was fashionable, some generations ago, to teach children proverbs. Through these easily memorized sayings, something would stick in their minds and give them a jump-start on experience. I still remember a number of these sayings that my mother taught me. A couple were in French! “L’appétit vient en mangent.” (The appetite comes when you eat.) she would say, when I told her that I wasn’t that hungry, or didn’t feel like eating the rhubarb dessert, or “Que la femme veut, Dieu le-veut!” (What woman wants, God wants!) when…well, I must confess, I don’t remember the circumstances. Could it have been when I was stubbornly refusing to straighten up my room? However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize the profound truth of these words.
Another proverb I remember was in Yiddish! “Ven iz der Kabtzen fraylich? Ven er gefint vos er hot ferloren.” (When is the beggar happy? When he finds the thing he lost.)
I’m pretty sure that, as a child, the point of this proverb eluded me. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that it’s talking about how we so totally take for granted a whole bunch of things, and don’t appreciate them until we no longer have them. In this sense we are all the “beggar” of the proverb.
As we enter our rainy season, we can see the significant change that takes place in the countryside all around us. Fields that turned brown over the course of the summer turn various shades of green. (Who ever could have imagined how beautiful green could be?!)
My point, however, is that until the last four years, I’ve never lived in a Mediterranean climate. Growing up in the sub-tropical city of Durban, we had an average rainfall of 80 inches per year. Living over forty years in various cities in the Midwest, precipitation could happen at any time. Four years ago we moved to California and, in the winter of 2013–2014, we experienced a severe decrease in rainfall.
I can honestly tell you that the sound of rain falling at its proper time has never sounded so musical to me in my life. Seeing the normally dry streams and creeks filled with water flowing by makes my heart beat a little faster for joy.
The “beggar” is, indeed, happy!
Wishing you a wet winter, free of floods and filled with the prospect of bountiful harvests.