Easter stories

Today some friends and I were making babka, a Polish Easter bread, and went to the Jean-Talon market while we waited for our dough to double in bulk. Because one type of Polish sweet is never enough, especially at Easter, our main mission at the Market was to get to the Polish bakery and buy some paczki, which are wonderful things that could be called donuts, though I feel that the word “donut” doesn’t come close to revealing their charm. (“A rose by any other name…” aside).

So it was a paczki mission, and when we realized how late in the afternoon it was we worried that there would be no paczki left. Fueled with a determination to win the paczki, I charged through the crowd, shoving aside old people and babies, only the glorious paczki on my mind. When I finally reached the bakery, I squeezed to the front of the line and was overcome by some latent hoarding urge, some Polish grandmotherly desire to have too much of everything for fear of the day when you may have nothing. And so with a voice filled with urgency I declared “I want three boxes of paczki!!”, three boxes, being a completely ridiculous amount for three girls to consume in one afternoon. The kind counterwoman began to fill the boxes, and the fellow who I had unceremoniously shoved aside to get to the front of the line began to grumble. The counterwoman asked him what he wanted to placate him. “I want a box of donuts,” he said. I turned to my Polish companion and we exploded into giggles. This guy wants “donuts”?! Perhaps he would be better off at Coffee Time. The little Polish grandmother in me proudly walked away with the completely excessive three boxes. I justified my excess by explaining I would leave a whole box in the studio for my classmates to consume.

Our babkas turned out beautifully. It was a glorious afternoon.

It wouldn’t be Easter either if I didn’t listen to my Russian Easter CD, which is a really lovely collection of choral music by the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir. I first heard some of this music when I had the habit of not being able to fall asleep without having the radio on. (I have since been cured of this problem). Only one radio station would do, as well – CBC Radio, of course. One morning, I awoke suddenly near dawn, and the most beautiful thing was playing on the radio. Lovely, mysterious, and in a language I did not know (which turned out to be Russian). I remained awake long enough to listen to the whole piece, and scrawl down on a piece of paper the name of the song. It was “Alleluia Behold the Bridegroom”, from the Russian Easter CD. I went out and bought it within the next few days. The lyrics to this music describe the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, where some virgins are, you know, hanging out waiting for the bridegroom to show up, and the foolish ones didn’t bring enough lamp oil so their lamps go out and they can’t see any of the action, but the wise ones brought extra oil and get to see everything. The moral of the story is to always be ready, because you never know the day or the hour, when something important is going to happen. (Like the Second Coming). Anyway, according to this parable, I guess I was in the foolish camp today a little bit, leaving my paczki purchase to the last minute. In the end I wasn’t denied any paczki, but you never know the day or the hour when you might really want some paczki and because you left it to the last minute, you don’t get any. Perhaps I was wise because I bought three boxes and will therefore be prepared for much paczki-joy in the coming days. Though it seems unwise to eat so many paczki. All those years of Catholic school and I haven’t yet taken the parables to heart. There’s still time to repent, I hope.