Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, usually coincides nicely with New England's fall season and the sense of new beginnings that come with the first hint of cooler weather. In Connecticut, apples and apple picking mark the start of the season of back to school, warm sweaters, and changing leaves. For Jews, eating apples - along with honey - represents the hope of a sweet year to come.
This year (it's 5776 if you're wondering) the holiday began yesterday at sundown, eleven days earlier than it did last year. (In the Hebrew calendar, it falls on the same date every year, the first day of the month of Tishrei.) A week and a half might not seem like a huge difference from one year to the next, but a week and a half is a lifetime in the context of a New England autumn.
Those eleven days could mean the difference between beaches, flip-flops, sunscreen and sleeping in front of the fan and leather boots, scarves, warm drinks, and adding an extra blanket. Later in the season, eleven days could be the difference between looking up at spectacular multi-colored leaves on every tree and feeling them crunch beneath your feet as the branches go bare.
Combined with the fact that higher temperatures have lingered longer than they have in decades, giving us heat waves and green trees even while advertisers persist in pushing dark lipstick, '70's-inspired jeans, and pumpkin spice everything, and it all adds up to a feeling of being entirely unprepared.
But the new year and the new season will always come, and they don't care how ready we are. Over the weekend I bought apples at Scott's Yankee Farmer and made my usual apple cake. Fall officially begins with the Autumnal Equinox on September 23, and perhaps by then the weather and my brain will have caught up. Maybe, hopefully, the season and the year will be sweet.