Between clouds and sun, the blossoms open. At first shyly. Their fairy wing petals cling to the branches, fragile, exposed. A solitary bee hovers over the flowers and flies away.
Then, in a quiet cascade the landscape changes from winter to spring. The almond ushers in the new season with a sensual negligee of pink and white- an effervescent display which will disappear with the wind. Soon they will return to proletarian green.
It is the Israeli version of hanami, the Japanese cherry blossom festival, except here the honor isn’t regulated only to beauties. Cedars, Mediterranean oak, flaming Judas, figs, pine and eucalyptus- trees that are indigenous to the region and those only recently introduced- Tu Bishvat celebrates them all. However, unlike its Asian counterpart, the holiday often arrives when many of the deciduous trees are still bare. The adornments appear later, with a sweeping wave of blooms.
It is a time when it hurts to remain indoors.
Almond petals, like jasmine and orange are edible although almond blossom tea, I recently discovered, is rather insipid. According to Miriam of Israeli Kitchen the best part of preparing the tea is collecting the softly fragrant petals. They can also be used as herbal jewelry to decorate salads and desserts. It will be the most beautiful garnish you’ll ever use.