Manny decides that he and Esther will not leave Eretz Yisrael right away, despite Jens’ warning. Mutty continues to care for his father, though there are some setbacks and frustrations. .
* * *
“Are you sure you’ll be all right, Esther?” asked Manny.
“Of course! Wasn’t the whole point of your staying in Eretz Yisrael so that you could devote yourself to your learning? You can’t sit around the whole time babysitting me! Somehow I’ve managed to get through all these years of life. I’ll be fine on my own.”
“Okay, but please don’t bring any more lunch guests home for the time being.”
Esther’s face clouded. “Did it disturb you that I did that?” she asked.
It had, but Manny refrained from saying so. “No, not exactly,” he answered instead. “It’s just that I’d like to establish a routine for us. It was a lovely luncheon, but you know me and surprises.”
“I sure do.” Esther had learned how Manny felt about some surprises during the second year of their marriage. She had planned a surprise birthday party for him and had invited friends and some family. When Manny had walked into the house and everyone crowded around him shouting, “Surprise!” he had surprised them in return. He had backed out the door and fled the building.
“All right then,” said Manny. “I’ll be going. Have a lovely day.”
“You too, and don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re sure?” asked Manny.
“Yes, I’m sure. Good-bye,”
she said, smiling. “Go.”
”I’m going,” he said, and put his hat on. One more wave, and he was gone.
* * *
The silence was deafening. For all of her bravado, Esther had no idea what she was going to do or how she would fill her day. At home in New York, she’d found plenty of good things to do, and she was always busy. But here?
She decided to start with the house. She had eventually located a pad of paper and a pencil stub among Manny’s possessions. Taking those in hand, she took a tour of the house and made a list of all the things that needed to be done to make it more home-like. She was glad that the cottage was in such decent shape, but there was always room for a woman’s touch.
That project took all of one hour. After she finished, Esther made herself a cup of tea and decided to sit out in the garden. She wondered how her gardens were faring at home, and hoped Mima Faiga was taking care of them. She’d left clear and extensive instructions, but she knew that everyone had their own style when it came to these things. She tried not to worry about it, and took her tea outside to the small table and chairs set up there. She silently thanked Hashem for the weather, the sky such a perfect blue and she was able to sit outside without even a jacket, even though it was just before Chanukah. Back in New York it was probably bitter cold.
As Esther looked around some more, she noticed that the green areas in the garden were wildly overgrown with weeds, and cluttered with bits of debris. She stood and walked around to investigate. A feeling of satisfaction came over her when she realized that her next project — a substantial one — was right before her eyes. She resolved to go buy some garden tools, and she’d whip the garden into shape. She had a feeling that once she started being busy, other projects would present themselves. Busy makes busy and idle makes idle was one of her strong mottos, and she tried to live by it.
Her next question was, of course, where to find garden tools. Whereas in New York she’d go to the butter and egg store, the greengrocer and the hardware store, here she had to go to six or seven stores to round up everything she needed. No matter. She wasn’t lazy, and she’d figure it out.
In the meantime, she had her hands. She brought her tea things inside and gave them a quick rinse, keeping in mind Manny’s warning that she couldn’t use water here like she did at home, that there simply wasn’t enough. She put on the garden gloves she’d remembered to pack, and stepped outside to begin.
The garden was larger than she had thought at first. Humming to herself, she grabbed a bunch of weeds in her hand and began to pull. The activity felt good. She was still a bit sluggish from the ship journey, and was anxious to get her energy back up to what it once was.
An hour passed without her even noticing, but when she paused at one point to rest a bit, she saw that she had made progress. She looked harder at the newly exposed ground. Underneath the brush and weeds were small green points sticking out from the dirt. Curious, she dug one up and was surprised to find a small potato. She couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Who knew what other treasures were buried beneath the dirt? Of all things that she expected to find in Eretz Yisrael, and the thing that had been one of the hardest for her to leave, the last thing she expected to find was her victory garden. And yet, here it was.
To be continued . . .