One January morning I awoke as a bear. My snout poked over the comforter. The mucus froze and I decided to stay undercover. I was wearing my new winter pajamas—a two-piece white fleece outfit that made me look and feel more like a bunny than a bear. Not a Playboy Bunny, my partner noted, but the little fuzzy ones with pink runny noses.
To match my new jammies, I asked my partner to buy me an extravagant box of tissues, the kind that have aloe vera seeped into each piece so that when you wipe your nose and collect your mucus, the tissue softens and heals the skin around your nose. The BMW of tissues.
Eventually I crawled out of bed on a reconnaissance mission. I searched and found the enormous silver thermos behind a cupboard and proceeded to prepare myself a supply of hot water. I threw in a few sticks of cinnamon and ginger, anything to heat my cold body. Crawling back to bed on all fours, like any self-respecting bear on a snowy January day, I was now ready to hibernate. I rested my head on two pillows so the mucus would not stuff my snout, closed my eyes and waited for spring.
A bear’s sleep is a gift from God. I would have continued mine, but the phone rang. Then the sun shone through the slits in the shutters. I was certain we had reached the week before Passover, time to wake up and clean the house. Slowly I wobbled to the window overlooking the backyard. Daffodil leaves had sprouted, dotting the grass. Water filled the wadi below. Am Yisrael was out in droves walking, biking, kayaking, celebrating God’s gift of rain and snow. The hills rejoiced. It seemed like Spring, but according to my partner, it was still January. Tu B’Shvat had not even come, with its imported figs and apricots. I was a failure at hibernation, having slept only a day or two.
Fortunately, over the years, I’ve learned to forgive myself. It’s your first experience of bearhood, I said, patting my white fuzzy shoulder. Practice. It’s all about practice. Next year you’ll sleep for three to five days and the year after that six to eight and the year after that . . .