On Easter Saturday we caught the train to Pruszków where my daughter’s in-laws live to join them for the blessing of the baskets in the Catholic Church Ola attends. She had a basket for each of the twinlets lined with a lace doily, containing horseradish (the bitterness of Christ’s sacrifice), bread (Christ’s body), eggs (Christ’s life and resurrection) and salt (purification).
We walked though the puddled streets to the gracious brick church in a straggly procession of eight. Inside the twins’ baskets were placed on a bench with many others, awaiting the priest’s blessing. Ola took the twins to kneel in front of a model of a grave containing the figure of Christ, while we admired the plain white of the vaulting and the stained glass windows. The priest appeared, a young man, well-surpliced, to intone the blessing. He then picked up a small straw whisk and moved along the baskets splashing them with holy water. The twins were a bit awed by the church I think, looking up with big, slightly tentative eyes.
After the blessing, Babcia Ola bought fairy floss on a stick from the opportunistic stall set up outside the church and we walked through the park avoiding mud, on a detour back to the station. The lake was awash with birds: a white swan; seagulls (including one with a black face); pigeons; and a vast congregation of ducks. A blue machine dispensed food for the birds and the children (and their father) squatted contentedly passing it on to the pigeons.
On Sunday we returned to Pruszków, only briefly confused by the beginning of daylight saving. A breakfast feast awaited us. We began with a sacramental slice of the egg that was blessed yesterday, and then a soup containing white sausage and sliced boiled egg: Jaś dispensed with the soup and demolished two sausages, before going off to play with his cousins. We turned to the table laden with many dishes – three kinds of meat, including a pâté made of goose thigh, chicken and maybe pork; herrings in a creamy sauce; a dressing of beetroot and horseradish; spicy plums; fish in a tomato sauce; salad heavy with mayonnaise; and my daughter’s yeasty Australian contribution, freshly baked hot cross buns. This was followed by a cake-stand of ciasto: a sponge with thick cream and two slices, all of which we needed to sample, along with strawberry nalewka (a potent liquor we call Ola’s medicine) and honey nalewka, the honey from Ola’s sister’s hives.
The day was warm and sunny so we went for another walk in the park. When I asked my daughter where Ola was she said “She’s cooking the goose.”
The park was alive with strollers relishing the warmth. We walked past the huge indoor swimming pool: played in a playground where a horse came out to eat grass from the twinlets’ hands; scrambled up a hill through rushes to look at the carp lake; brandished a vewy vewy long rush like a lance; and in my case attempted to photograph prolific buddings. My birdwatching daughter spotted a jay and startled a pair of pheasants.
And then we returned to the apartment to eat the goose
… and mashed potato
… and salad (served with salad servers with an Aboriginal motif bought from a wonderful shop run by an Aboriginal woman, Merryn Apma, in Tilba, where we bought all our Warsaw gifts)
… and more ciasto
… and Australian red wine.
On Easter Monday we are lazing and loafing and eating minimally. Traditionally Easter Monday is Śmigus Dyngus or Wet Monday. If you’re out and about, you’re likely to get water thrown at you, a tradition with many explanations, pagan, Christian and historical. We decided that roaming the streets drenched, or in fear of being drenched, was not a good move, even if the temperature is predicted to rise to 14 degrees.