Spring has met us at last. Easter weekend greets our bodies with the warmth we’ve been craving. Queen, Frog and I take to the woods for a small hike in the nearby town of Fayette. A nice loop trail that overlooks an unknown lake, at least unknown to us.
The trail is muddy, but the air is fresh and is what we needed. Even though the lake still has ice on it the feeling of spring is within us. The sun is out and we can hear birds, specifically turkeys, making gruesome sounds. We also spot a porcupine who doesn’t seem to regard us at all as he descends the rocks we’ve chosen to rest on.
That night Frog and I begin prepping for Sunday’s feast. The day prior I made arrangements to buy a leg of lamb. We met in a parking lot and made the exchange and I felt like I was exchanging goods in that shaddy manner that we’ve all seen in movies (or perhaps participated in). I was even wearing shades and had Frog to flex as muscle. The trade went well, I even secured an extra pound for the same price. If you can buy meat in a parking lot I highly suggest it.
The lamb was best, we thought, for conveying the body of Christ, for what specific reason I am not totally certain, maybe having something to do with him being a shepherd, or perhaps this was just Frog and I’s way of justifying our intense cravings for lamb. Whatever the reason this was my first time deboning a piece of meat, which Frog walked me through, herself a seasoned butcher. I feel like I learned more about anatomy than I have in 22 years of school, simply by pulling muscle and fat away from bone, following the white seams like paper craft. Queen watched for as long as her stomach could handle, before retreating and changing the topic of conversation.
Frog prepared brioche by hand. Without a mixer this is an incredibly laborious task, that involves many minutes of kneading and an unspeakable amount of butter. The only help she required of me was the occasional rolling up of the sleeves. While she prepared the brioche I prepared the marinade, lemon, garlic and rosemary. While these three things came together Queen prepared the food coloring for the hard boiled eggs, green and purple.
Frog and I finished in unison, I put the marinade in the fridge and she set the dough to rise. We prepared the egg soak, using empty beer cans to keep them submerged. After five minutes Queen removed the first egg and Frog’s face turned to a half frown.
“I think we shouldn’t have used brown eggs,” Frog said.
We cry with laughter. I for one hadn’t even noticed and Queen through her tears was remarking how ugly the eggs were. Frog and I plan to hide these eggs the next morning alongside the sandy river for Queen to hunt. She has never participated in an Easter egg hunt and Frog and I feel it is our responsibility to change that.
The morning rises with the sun we’ve missed. Frog and I dress the part of parents, specifically like New Jersey parents from 1992. Frog chooses flaymobant pants and I pick a jacket to match, not to mention I carry the camera as every proud father does. Queen dresses in pigtails and a red floral dress and carries a basket, the perfect child.
At the river we hide the eggs and let her search. We hide some low and some high in trees. She searches earnestly and I can’t stop smiling. Is this one of the beautiful moments of parenthood that I hear so much about? A couple walks by blasting country music out of a portable speaker. The father in me wants to approach them and say, “Hey, I’m trying to have a nice morning with my family, could you please turn your offensive music down. Thank you.” I resist the pressing urge.
After the eggs are found we run into Uncle Glam who is out taking a stroll along the river with his dog. He’ll be joining us for dinner later, arriving like every perfect uncle does, with beer under arm. Before he arrives, though, we enjoy brunch: Frog’s brioche with raspberry jam. Every bite is ecstasy, the bread is buttery, pastry like.
Our decadence continues as we begin to prep the dinner. I prepare scalloped potatoes, Frog prepares salad and Queen begins turning our Easter eggs into deviled eggs. The roast is removed from the fridge and awaits the oven which it shares with the potatoes. And like every uncle, Glam arrives too late to assist with prepping but just in time to pour a couple cold ones.
With everything in the oven we step out for deviled egg appetizers, which Queen has made especially flavorful with anchovies. Frog and I keep a close eye on the oven which has begun to fill the apartment with smoke everytime we open it. Through the haze and the smoke detector signaling we’re able to produce two perfectly cooked dishes. With them out of the oven we prep the table and take our seats. Frog’s apartment is lacking in chairs so Uncle Glam is forced into a lawn chair.
We eat and drink and praise one another for the good work they did. The lamb is rare and the potatoes are creamy and delicious. A small silence occupies the table after the meal.
“Lets gossip.” Uncle Glam declared.
“Yes!”I responded without missing a beat, the drinks taking hold.
Frog and Queen sit back and watch us gossip like a social experiment. We share the details that we each seem to know some half of, while the other fills in the rest. This goes on for a while until we move on to pictionary. Uncle Glam and I naturally become a team at this point, while Queen and Frog set to beating us, but come off badly and in all honesty, Pictionary is probably not the best game to play for someone who English is a second language for.
At one point in the game Uncle Glam and I sense foul play afoot. We would find out later that there was in fact no foul play, but this led to a string of arguments involving patriarchy, scheming, and defamation. All of which left me very confused and conflicted. Of course I would find out later how much fun Frog and Queen had leading me astray.
The night recovered and we continued to chat and play games. The night begins to blur and Queen is falling asleep at the table. The night widdles down and the group prepares for dispersal. This is when I remember that it’s Sunday and not Saturday, which is how I’ve been treating the entire night. The dread of work overcomes me and I hardly sleep at all, dreading the Monday that it already is.
All and all though, it was certainly one of my most memorable Easters, as I think it was for everyone in attendance. I’m not particularly religious in any way, but I’m now of the firm belief that any holiday that can bring friends together for a fine meal is a sacred day, worthy of celebrating to the extreme, even if you have to work the next day.