Winter Warmth

It was a cold day today—cold for Israel, that is. In the northeastern US where I grew up, it would be thought of as a warm day in winter with the temperature rising into the 50s, but I have become spoiled by our moderate weather. So for my trip to Jerusalem I dressed in black woolen tights and a velvety black skirt and a lime green sweater with a matching green pashmina that I had brought home from China. The pashmina is a scarf woven in a pattern with shiny and matte threads. It is made from cashmere and silk and besides being warm, it is very very soft. Over these clothes I wore a very soft black wool coat.

Years ago I began to realize that I bought my clothes not on the basis of style, but on the basis of color and texture. Clothes had to have pleasing colors and feel soft to the touch.

I know that my love for colors comes from my mother who tutored us on the gradations of color and their names. She had a wonderful sense of colors and made sure to share it with her daughters. Her home was decorated in blues and greens and purples. Every room was a showpiece. Only my room, at the top of the house, was yellow and orange.

In her home, the furniture was velvet and velvet brocade. The furniture was dark wood that was highly polished. The floors were always shining and the carpet was swept in the right direction and no footprints were allowed on it. The drapes were light and airy, but hung in a straight and dignified way, like women dressed elegantly, not like chorus girls. However, my mother didn’t teach us about textures. I think there was something too sensuous for her in the idea of soft textures.

I remember once sitting at my aunt’s house, allowing my fingers to stroke the silky fabric of the sofa. My mother’s face turned angry and she said, “Is that sofa bothering you?” I was not to touch.

In fact, that really was her message. I could be in the world. I could move around in it in a utilitarian way, but I was not to touch it. I was not to embrace it. I was not to enjoy it. I was to sit and be patient and endure. I was not to enjoy, to partake, to caress, to love.

It was only when I became pregnant that I realized what a wonder the human body is. My ever expanding belly brought me such a sense of happiness. Back in the days before ultrasound and prenatal testing, pregnancy meant carrying around a treasure to be revealed only at birth. And the babies were, indeed treasures. I loved their sweet smell and the softness of their skin. I enjoyed touching them and holding them. Their soft innocence helped me appreciate the world in a new way. I learned from them to explore with wonder new sights and sounds and textures. Because of them, for the first time for me the world became a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds and textures and wonders of all kinds.

And so this morning as I walked out into the cool sunny day, I was enveloped with softness and I felt appreciative of the world which I have learned to embrace and enjoy.

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  1. a slight correction:

    the house was decorated in wedgewood blue (the guest room) olive (the master bedroom) and lavender (my room) I can’t remember the precise names of the colors in your suite, but there were lots of butterflies

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