Home Away

For me, there are five distinct stages involved in the building of our backyard sukkah:

Denial: “Is it Sukkot again already?”
Rage: “Where did I put the $#@! zip-screws?”
Bargaining: “Please don’t make me go to the hardware store again…”
Sadness: “I don’t think this is going to last the week…”
Acceptance: “It’s beautiful!”

Me & our summer cottage
I am a humble Jew (as a blogged statement, this may be self-contradictory), so our backyard sukkah is likewise humble:

  • One 4×6-foot Persian rug
  • Eight cinder blocks
  • Four 2×2-inch posts, six feet in length, with two small L-brackets on one side (six inches from on end and 18 inches from the other)
  • Three 6-1/2′ 1×2″ slats
  • Four 4-1/2′ 1×2″ slats
  • One 7′ aluminum javelin
  • One 12×24′ camo (“mossy bark”) tarpaulin
  • Two dozen 6′ slats (1x.25″)
  • One maroon king-sized bedsheet, pole-stitched on one long side
  • Power drill, zipscrews, cable ties

First, I stretch out the rug (making sure it’s under only bare sky) and stack pairs of cinderblocks in each corner. Then I zipscrew two of the 6-1/2′ slats to two of the 2×2″ posts atop the L-brackets, inserting the latter into the cinder blocks (for the back wall frame); the remaining 6-1/2′ slat joins the other two posts, which go into the remaining cinderblock pairs (for the front wall/door frame). Two 4-1/2′ slats are then zipscrewed into place for each sidewall frames. I carefully slide the bedsheet onto the javelin, cable-tying the latter to the front-wall slat; the sheet’s bottom-right corner is then cable-tied to the frame.

Next, I unroll the tarp (which lives under our bed the rest of the year) and fold it sandwich-wise over the frames, securing the tarp’s grommets to each other along the bottom and sides) with cable-ties. Two dozen slats criss-cross the top, supporting whatever garden greenery I can scrounge (usually ivy, but this year some sort of weird ferny plant which sprouted over the summer). Two patio chairs go inside along with a TV-table (for meals and studying), et voila!

And this was how I spent yesterday afternoon. In many ways, Sukkot is my favorite holiday — I like its emphasis on life’s fragility; that it gets me outside to pray; the way the stars look through the sukkah roof; and the way the sukkah looks with my wife inside it. There is nothing quite like building your own sukkah — just like there’s no one else like the one who builds it.

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