Friday, March 13, 2009

forty days

It is that time of year again. The days are getting noticeably longer, clocks get set forward an hour, dizzying displays of everything concievable in a nauseating array of pastel colors screaming at you everytime you walk in the grocery store for some milk, yes it's... LENT!

Being protestant, I generally don't mark the passing of Lent with much thought, though I do realize the forty days leading up to Easter are symbolic of Jesus' time in the wilderness when He was being tested by Satan. An Anglican friend was visiting a few weeks ago and commented on the fact that we were having a worship arts festival at the beginning of Lent. The atmosphere in the sanctuary was highly charged, the singing shaking long idle dust from the rafters. Aparently, Anglicans don't say Allelujah during Lent. It's not a time for praising God [that comes Easter Sunday]. Forty days out of the year, that leaves 325 days... but I digress.

My point is until recently, I didn't pay much attention to the whole Lent thing. That is until art suddenly got involved. Years ago when my mother was single and my grandmother still alive and not crippled by arthritis, they stumbled on pysanke. My family is not Ukranian. Or Russian, for that matter, or any of the other ethnicities from whom pysanke came from. We're Welsh and Scottish and Sicilian [my mother and I are]. My mother was an art education major, and learned pysanke from a fellow student's mother, who was Ukranian. A few years later, my brother and I were born and she quit doing eggs because we'd get into the dye and smash the egg shells. When I was in college, mom pulled out her materials, ordered some new dye and taught me how to decorate eggs. And I'm not talking about hardboiled eggs and food coloring.

This year we tracked down some farm eggs, which had harder shells and are generally prettier than any brown, free range or organic egg you could find at a grocer. 7 dozen eggs later, we left the farm with duck eggs, Easter eggs [a lerger than jumbo size with a pale bluish color], Banty eggs, and button quail eggs [a dark speckled mocha color, no bigger than the end of your pinky - and too cute for words]. We lost a dozen, which had been stored on our back porch when the temperature plunged to the low teens one night. Ukranian eggs can be decorated raw, but traditionally, they have two holes pierced through the shell - one at both of the elipse ends - and the contents of the egg are blown out either mechanically with a tinsy bellows or by one's own breath. We will not be blowing out the quail eggs, of which there are a dozen, and we lost a dozen to the frost, so there's five dozen eggs that need to be blown out. What do we do with all the egg? You guess is as good as mine, but I saw a custard recipe that called for a dozen eggs, so that might be a good place to start.