Monday 13 April 2020

Therefore Let Us Keep the Feast

An end to Lent---and something to think about upon waking instead of the coronavirus! Hooray for Easter, holiest day of the Christian calendar, and an opportunity to cook, bake and eat once-a-year foods. For a full exposition of the spiritual riches of the day, I direct you elsewhere.   

First of all, I called an Easter Day truce with the dandelions, and so the imperilled worms had a day off from collateral damage. Instead of gardening, I hunkered down before the internet with a cup of coffee, toasted hot cross bun and a plate of streaky bacon. 

Mass in Warrington was at 11, and we dressed up in Easter finery--I even dabbled in cosmetics--while  our computer screen transmitted the altar party setting up. Fr. de Malleray had dispelled part of the mystery of who the men all were by saying that they were all living in the same church complex. I think the lads are very lucky to be so close to the sacraments and that if when you're forced into monastic seclusion, what a lucky thing to be in a monastery--or a church complex, as the case may be.  

Easter Sunday Mass unfolded the way Easter Sunday Mass generally does, and we listened with interest to Fr. de Malleray's homily. During Lent he gave it to us with both barrels about the virus of sin, but on Easter Sunday he lightened up enough to talk about mastering virtue and "training for eternity." To illustrate the need for training, he mentioned a number of skills in which we might be trying to master, like watercolour painting, oil painting, mountain climbing and scuba diving. 

"This is a middle-class parish," I muttered to B.A. with mock horror.

Where was the pigeon-fancying? Or, for that matter, the polo? Or, indeed, the hard graft of Polish studies? But I jest. Back to Easter Sunday.

The sad part of Easter Sunday was, of course, not having any Easter Sunday guests. However, like a good son, Polish Pretend Son sent of a photograph of himself and his pal holding traditional Easter święconka baskets. They looked so smug, they had clearly found a priest to bless these baskets. As thanks, I sent PPS photos of B.A. and me in our Easter finery in front of the computer.  I admit that this was a little flat compared to the glory of fulfilling tradition despite the Vile Germ. Hey, I risked death to get the zakwas.

B. A. and I had the żurek for lunch, and it was a bit gloopy, thanks to me using all the flour at the bottom of the bottle, not just the juice. Error. Today I will attempt to thin it with appropriately Polish-ed vegetable stock. We also had pieces of the mazurek, which is all it should be. Then, after another session in front of our computers, we went for a walk to the beach shore.

At the beach shore we were not accosted by police officers, which was nice. There were people scattered around, mostly couples with small dogs and parents with two or three children. The local beach shore is not a particularly nice place to sit, as it is covered with pebbles and sharp-edged shells.   However, it is a nice place to skim stones, as B.A. proceeded to do, after reminiscing about the Boxing Day long ago when he taught Polish Pretend Son to skim stones. He plans to teach PPS's future sons to skim stones, too. 

In Scotland, skimming stones seems to be a male hobby, which is fine by me. The traditional female role is to watch the activity, so that when the stone bounces 12 times, someone other than the stone-skipper has seen it. This is fine by me, as my life vocation is keeping a man happy and, to the best of my ability, alive and healthy. Men respond very well when women cheer them on from the sidelines--which reminds me of Polish Pretend Daughter-in-Law squeaking encouragement to her husband and brother-in-law when we watched them playing football. 

Men don't like being compared to plants, so I will not go into a lengthy disquisition about how, like plants, they just need to be fed and watered and kept in the metaphorical sun and protected from metaphorical frost.  

I was taking photographs, and B.A. suggested I snap a photo of a tribute-in-progress to the NHS. The NHS has become a folk religion, which ordinary British people feel much more deeply than the elite religion, which is sex-and-gender. One of the interesting things about the pandemic, by the way, is that British children have taken back the rainbow, presumably out of the sheer joy of using all the colours at their disposal, and re-established it as a sign of hope that a scourge will end. Actual bows, not stripes, decorate windows wherever we go, alongside childish handwriting praising the "NHS" and "key workers" and directing us to "Stay home." 

Another aside: I grew up with state-supplied medical care for all, and I do not remember anything like this heartfelt emotion for OHIP, that is, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan/L'Assurance-Santé de Ontario. OHIP was just there, like my father's family-plan dental health coverage from work, but, like the dental coverage, I certainly did miss it when I couldn't have it any more. But let's not go there. Let's just say that one state medical system is not identical to others, and I'd rather be sick in Ontario, Germany or Italy than here--as grateful as I am to a certain Czech brain surgeon and a certain English oncologist. 

We returned home unmolested by police, admiring a handsome house for rent along the way, and I
sent a link to the rental information to my paterfamilias brother, who Skyped me to find out why.  Apparently the rent on the house would be too much even for him, were his family to relocate to Scotland for a year or so. Meanwhile, B.A. set about making dinner, which was lamb shanks in a very delicious tomato-based sauce with peas and mashed potatoes. We drank a New Zealand pinot noir with this, and little bottles of Ontario ice wine with the pieces of mazurek that served as pudding.  B.A. blessed the lamb with holy water before we ate it.  

Dinner was very nice, but I very much wished we had guests, too. I would have been very happy to have the rest of the Men's Schola at the table.

"You wouldn't have got a word in edgewise," B.A. reminded me. 

"No, but I would have enjoyed listening," I said quite truthfully. 

Then it was rather late, and I was too lazy to commit to a show, so we chatted to Mum and Dad on Skype and read the internet instead. Having entered a Twitter discussion about quirky Polish phrasebooks, I attempted to track down the alarming Polish-English phrasebook/interrogation manual I found years ago in the Glasgow University Library.

Afternoon coffee and a day of eating beasts for the first time since Shrove Tuesday conspired to keep me from sleeping once it was bedtime. Thus I washed all the dishes and then read Veg in One Bed by Huw Richards until after 1 AM. My broad beans are doing beautifully on the windowsill, but it does seem a bit cold outside to start the hardening process. 

This morning B.A. got up early to wash the dishes and discovered them already done, so he put them away. I am thinking again about absent friends and everywhere we will go when we can: the New Town, the West End, Wrocław, Łódź, Rome. 

No comments:

Post a Comment