Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gleaming Flaxen Waxen

 Alot of my readers asked about the wicks I described in Apple of Sodom. What happened? Did they work?

The short answer is they were fabulous! Never did we have such a clean-burning Menorah and the wicks seemed to stay lit forever. We lit at around 5 PM and at 1 AM, those wicks were still going strong.

We told Yitzchak to go ahead and make some more wicks for the second night. Which he did. Same results. Worked a treat!

But today he balked. *sigh* He said the stuff made his nose itch. I think it was more about it no longer being a novelty. I let him go ahead and make the wicks from regular cotton wool, as we have done every other year.

However, it bothered me. I liked that the wicks from the Tapuach Sdom had so much meaning and because they burned so well, too. It added something. Since I had ample material left in that seedpod Yitzchak brought home, I really didn't want it to go to waste.

So I asked Asher to give it a go. Not a good idea. He began to kvetch almost immediately.

I was super busy with baking and other tasks today but it occurred to me that maybe I should take a look and see if there was some way to make the process of rolling the wicks more pleasant. I sat down next to Asher, pulled some of the fluff from the seedpod and began to roll it between my palms. It hit me right away: it was just like spinning flax!

I have done a lot of odd things through the years to bring in money here and there for our large family. One of the things I did was spin linen thread to be used for weaving priestly garments for a museum exhibit. These garments were identical to those worn by the High Priest during the performance of his priestly duties at the Temple.

As a novice spinner, I started with wool.This was easy stuff to work with, due to the natural lanolin contained in the wool. It just slipped through your hands. But flax was a whole different ballgame.

Flax was dry. The only way to keep the spinning wheel going instead of catching and stuttering was to wet the fibers from a bowl of water kept nearby. I'd dip my fingers into the bowl whenever the works started to run dry.

After awhile, I developed a nice rhythm. My thread was very fine and I was proud to give some to my mother, who is a weaver. I was very proud, too, that my thread was used to make this important exhibit that is still on view today.

That was over 2 decades ago. But when I sat down to see what was up with making the wicks from the Tapuach Sdom, it hit me that the stuff was dry like flax, which is also of plant origin. I brought a little bowl of water, dipped my fingers in and got to work. Viva la difference!

I showed Asher and he saw I was right. The job went very fast after that, and we used up the rest of the fibers in the seedpod. We got a generous yield of wicks out of that one seedpod.

We may not ever have another Tapuach Sdom for Chanuka menorah wicks, but I'm glad we had this special material for at least this one year. It really added a lot of meaning to our holiday.

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