We built the Sukkah.
Our friend Z came over - he's very tall, which makes him useful for this sort of thing - and we got our succah out of our landlady's garage - moving aside ancient bicycles and so on - and the three of us built it. Okay, I mostly commented until I found something I could do, but watching them was fun.
To recap, a succah, a tabernacle, is a structure that has four walls made of pretty much any materials, so long as they are complete walls (doors and windows as necessary, and a roof made of wood or bamboo or some other similar material such that the stars would be visible through it and rain can come through.
Also, it cannot be under a tree or another structure (like a solid roof or a canopy or the balcony for the apartment above.) It must be completely open to the sky. During the week of Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles, one is supposed to "dwell" there. And, yes, there are people who sleep in their sukkot. But mostly, it means that one must eat there - at least the men, and at least the festive meals and meals with bread or crackers. When it's not raining. Cannot eat there in the rain. Some people put tarps or even elaborate covers on pulleys over their sukkot when it rains, but that doesn't make them livable. It makes them illegal (which these people know. They're just protecting their furniture, decorations and roofing material.)
It's late this year. I predict we'll be eating in coats by the end.
And my neighborhood looks like a shanty town - sukkot are springing up everywhere - in front yards and back yards and side yards, on balconies and terraces and rooftops and sidewalks, and on driveways. Many are designed to attach to house walls (perfectly legal), or to incorporate a door to facilitate food serving. This is especially useful on Shabbat so as to avoid carrying in a public place. Last year, we had Shabbat dinner with friends who could not use their side door, so they built their succah by their bedroom and shuttled food through the windows. As we A. hold by the local eruv and B. believe that the fences and gates on our property comprise a kosher eruv by themselves, we are not concerned.
And they're made of boards, or fiberglass panels, or canvas and pipes, or canvas and wooden poles, or old doors, or paneling, or, like ours, out of nylon tenting and metal poles, and they use bamboo poles or cedar branches or reed mats (us, again), as the schach, the roofing material. And inside, they're decorated. We use prefab decorations that came with the succah, but people with kids have the best - things their kids made in school. Paper chains, laminated crayon drawings, little posters, papier mache. Whatever.
Jonathan bought a couple of bunches of plastic grapes from the sons of a friend of ours, to help support their yeshiva. Because the street vendors are out, selling decorations and selling the Four Species - Citrons, and palm, willow and myrtle branches. Every man over thirteen should have them, and while most women just borrow their husband's or sons', some of us have our own. :) I always do. And if a man doesn't, he can borrow from someone else.
Citrons smell like heaven.
So, ours is a prefab succah. Metal poles that lock together and a nylon tent that ties and velcros around the four sides, and a reed mat resting on two wooden twobyfours. It came with three, but we gave one away. It took forty minutes for the two men, plus me doing extra velcros. I like the engineering - twelve of the poles make a cube, and then there are three more to stablize it around three sides, leaving one long side of the 6x8' structure open. Once it's together, it's very stable. And the only tools needed were a chair to stand on and a rubber mallet. And it's big enough for a small table and four chairs and a tv table, so we can have two guests.
And then I invited Z to dinner, and made a green bean-portobello mushroom-tofu stirfry.
Edited to remove silly line I left in