-- Chapter from The Jewish Theory of Everything -- Life in the 'Burbs Chapter from The Jewish Theory of Everything -- Life in the 'Burbs
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  Life in the 'Burbs from
The Jewish Theory of Everything
A behind-the-scenes look at the world

By Max Anteby 

Other Available Chapters
Close Encounters 
Stepping Up to the Plate 

Life in the 'Burbs

I’ve always been a city boy. I was born in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan. So when I got married, I decided to move to the suburbs. Instead of looking for a house in Borough Park or Williamsburg, I moved to Flatbush, where practically every home has a private driveway and a green lawn in the front. (For a city boy, that’s considered the suburbs.)

And thus began my career as a farmer. In my one-sixteenth-of-an-acre farm, (actually a little less, because the house takes up most of the lot), I raise tomatoes, cucumbers and occasionally green peppers. In a good year, I could actually get six or seven tomatoes out of a season. It’s such a rewarding experience.

And then there’s my front lawn. Stretching a luxurious four feet by eight feet, I grow what I consider to be grass. My neighbors tell me it’s a specific breed called crab grass, but then they know a lot more of that technical stuff than I do.

But my real love is my flower garden. I plant the annuals – impatiens and geraniums and black-eyed suzies. Creating the vista of color and depth are the perennials – daylilies and zinnias and rhododendrons. They’re my pride and joy.

I marvel at how every year the perennials know exactly when spring starts and they begin growing and flowering all on their own. The bigger wonder to me is, how do they manage to live through the winter? Some of those days are freezing! At least I can wear my wool socks, wool suit and wool gloves.

Wool, of course, naturally keeps you warm; but not by generating its own heat (the body does that). Wool is fluffy and airy so it serves as an insulator to prevent the heat of the body from escaping.

So what do plants do?

There’s something else that does the same thing as wool. It’s called snow. It comes down in flakes, each one individually designed with six points. They interlock one with the other, but not perfectly. Just like someone playing Tetris for the first time, there are always spaces between the pieces. Much of the snow on the ground after a storm consists of empty space. That space prevents the heat of the soil from escaping just like wool prevents body heat from escaping. By doing that, not only does it protect my flowers from freezing, it also protects all the ants, earthworms, fungi and bacteria that enrich and enliven the soil. (Let’s assume we want to protect those things. They have a right to live too, ya know.)

It not only protects plants and animals, snow also prevents the underground water lines from freezing. And it gives us some great winter sports to enjoy and it provides us with incomparable scenery in the mountains and fjords around the world.

And you know, somehow, that sparkling white color adds to the beauty. The color makes sense, too. Red snow would be too glaring on the eyes, blue would just blend in with the sky, black would attract too much heat and would melt too quickly, and we all know about yellow snow.

Another thing: guys like me aren’t the only ones excited about snow. Farmers rejoice too, because without snow, there would be no winter wheat. Snow prevents the soil from freezing solid so that water is able to penetrate all winter long, and an entire crop can be saved. Finally, as the snow gradually melts, it seeps into the ground soaking the soil instead of running off the way rain does. First it acts like a blanket and then a nutrient – sort of like having your cake and then eating it too.

And while it seems to us city boys that it takes just too darn long for the snow to melt, we will just have to continue sloshing through this magnificent, purposeful gift from our Creator, year after year.

So the next time you’re upset about digging the car out of the snow, just think about my flowers and remember: spring is just around the corner.

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