Dear Shaina,

I think I have been a pretty tolerant mother, allowing you to go off alone to parts unknown with vague and ever-changing itineraries and travel companions in search of your path, your dream, your vision…whatever. I don’t think a little more regular communication, with some detail, is too much to ask.

All of this is moot at this point since I, at least, set my eyes on you for a few brief days when you touched down from India in New York, before you took off again to Israel. You seem happy, healthy and focused, with the usual amount of angst. I know that being 25 and trying to find your life and independence is not an easy task for anyone, but you don’t have to fight so hard to convince us of how capable you are. Just because I remind you to take an umbrella when it’s raining outside doesn’t mean I don’t think you can manage the monsoons of India without my input. I’m just your mother. Give me a break!

In the meantime, summer has fully arrived in Birmingham. I was driving home and passed a pop-up market at an outdoor shopping center. It’s a new thing in Birmingham. They are trying to expose the urban and suburban community to locally grown fresh foods. Of course, I stopped and picked up a few of my favorite early summer vegetables and went straight home to cook them. The good tomatoes aren’t quite ready yet, but the first yellow squash and zucchini are in full bloom.

Vegetable CasseroleI made a layered vegetable casserole that will make a great Shabbat dinner dish. It’s been such a long time since we have all been together here for Shabbat. I am already planning the menu and will make sure to include as many summer veggies as I can find, including a pesto dish made with the basil from my newly harvested crop. Of course, I will reserve some of the vegetables for one of your exotic Indian creations that I know you will want to prepare for us.

I hope you are having a fresh and exciting experience in Israel, even though you are visiting many sites that you have been to before. You are a different person than you were at 16 or even 21 when you last went and will likely have a new perspective. As always, I can’t wait to hear about it all. I won’t even ask you to email me. I’ll just wait until you get together with our relatives and ask them. I really only care that you are safe and happy!

Love, Mom