For over thirty years now, whenever we are at home over the Easter holidays, I have been making mulled wine and hot cross buns for friends on Good Friday. The weather has never failed us, or so we say. And yesterday was no exception. Wellington, renowned for it’s wind and rain turned on a spectacular day as we swatted the wasps, and sipped our wine in the sunshine (23 degrees in fact). There’s nothing like good friends, warm wine and alas, this year my buns were little rocks, but no-one minded. After all these years, I tried a new recipe and it failed me.
It’s lovely to have reached the age and stage of life, where it’s no longer a disaster when the baking goes awry. Years gone by, realising the failure in the lack of elasticity in the dough, I would have abandoned the batch and started from scratch. But I’m older now and there’s less energy for perfection. My friends didn’t mind… we began at 11.00 am and ended at 4.00 pm…
It feels like a good time to pull out an old poem and re-post it along with a picture of successful hot cross buns from a season past. Maria who is in this poem, was with us yesterday, as we shared our own and the Greek Easter, which this year, coincided.
I’m currently reading, to review, a beautiful collection of short stories by Vincent O’Sullivan ‘The Families’ which is perfect reading for a holiday weekend, touching as it does, on all of varying aspects of life, love, friendships and how we negotiate these, our lovers, spouses, children, our hopes and disappointments. Good Friday has less and less religious significance for me (as it once did in my childhood, the grim re-enactments of the stations of the cross) and more and more it is about old friends and family, the nuances we negotiate, the sometimes tragedies that we learn to let go of.
Mulling it over
Cinnamon, cardamom, almonds
and wasps, plump imported raisins,
currants; Uncle’s aluminium pan.
The sunlight is thinner and Maria
who is Greek is fasting; orange peel
floats in the dark pool of wine.
I add sugar and schnapps, watch
the liquid almost boil and ladle it
into warm mugs. We breathe in
the alcohol, swat at the wasps
remember last Easter and the one
before. We marvel at the yeasty buns
suck the sticky glaze from our fingers
and lift the pale crosses to our lips
knowing that Pilate will wash his hands,
Veronica will wash his face, a
soldier will lance his side, and that
he will chat to a couple of thieves
just before he dies. But, it is
the triumph of the empty tomb
we most admire as we raise our
hot mugs of wine in relief, glad.