How can it be that a tree blooms in winter?
From The Smart Set:
Driving alone on a highway through the desert of the Southwest, I passed a sign announcing the “Last Services for 100 Miles.” I asked myself, “How did they get a minyan way out here?” And then I came to a gas station. In the desert, “Last Gas” signs were powerful magnets, pulling my car off the road. A “Last Chance” sign on a roadside farm market has the same effect.
“Last Peaches of the Season”? I’m pulling over. “First Asparagus”? I’m there, too.
It’s no wonder that I consider first fruits of the season to be significant. I grew up saying — and continue to say — the Shecheheyahu on the occasion of eating a seasonal fruit or vegetable for the first time in a year. The Shecheheyahu gives thanks to G-d “who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.”
We know for sure when we enjoy a seasonal fruit or vegetable for the first time, but we never know which taste will be the year’s last. And that, I believe, may be one of the unconscious motives of the leaf peepers who hunt for the glorious color of deciduous trees. It’s another aspect of carpe diem.