We've built a sukkah nearly every year for the past 10 years and have always invited guests on the Sunday that falls during the holiday. Typically mornings are brisk, afternoons warm and lovely, and as the sun sets everyone suddenly feels a chill and remembers that it is, after all, autumn. September and early October in Portland is usually gorgeous and how lucky we are that we have this lovely outdoor holiday during our golden season.
Last year we dropped the ball. The old sukkah had become unusable and, due to The Dark Lord's impending bar mitzvah, we had neither the time nor the money to come up with a new sukkah. We missed having our own, and my dear sweet husband worked that much harder to make sure we would have a beauty of a sukkah this year. I don't really believe that G-d pays all that much attention to me, but I'm kind of thinking maybe we're being punished for slacking off last year. We had one glorious day in the sukkah and it's been nothing but nonstop rain since.
To answer Molly's question about how the sukkah holds up--it's still standing but it isn't pretty. All our beautiful lanterns and paper chains? Hammered by pounding rain. Half of the sukkah's roof has blown away. I run out and shake my bedraggled lulav during a break in the rain and it's like standing next to a wet dog after a good full body shake. Somehow I don't envision this being the way it was back in the day and I'm thinking the desert is looking pretty good right now.
Shabbat dinner in the sukkah? Rained out. Breakfast in the sukkah? Rained out. And our customary drop in Sunday afternoon open sukkah gathering? Rained out as well. People came and I took them out to look at the sukkah from the comfort of our covered carport. Nice, but not really dwelling in the sukkah, is it? There were brief, wistful viewings and then we scampered back in to the house for warm drinks and snacks.
Sukkot allows us to live simply in a spare, rickety shelter symbolizing the bare necessities of life. But it is also a harvest festival and I couldn't help but think of our good fortune and abundance: a warm house full of good friends and tasty food. It wasn't the day I'd been hoping for, but it turned out to be a very good day indeed.