I guess with a title like this I should start with the oddities… However, I’m not going to.
Last night I was included in a Seder at the house of Scott and Katy’s friends, Jack and Joanne. We arrived a little after 6:30 – at the same time as a young couple carrying their very tiny, almost 4-week-old son.
Inside, there were introductions all around; after which Jack offered a house tour to anyone who had never seen it. Katy and I went along, getting a quick tour through all the rooms, and a short stop on the back patio to admire the new koi pond in the back yard.
One person hadn’t arrived by almost 7, and Joanne wanted to get started so we all went into the dining room. The table looked beautiful – although somewhat cramped due to there being thirteen of us for dinner. Mark – the late arrival – showed up just as we were beginning to read from the Haggadah.
We were quite an assortment of people – ranging from Joanne’s colleagues from High Point University, where she teaches, a High Point University freshman, Scott and Katy, me (stranger to all but my friends), to the young couple with the baby (strangers to EVERYONE, and included after Joanne was asked if she would welcome some folks who had no place to celebrate).
For those who have never attended a Seder, I’ll give this layman’s brief version of what goes on: there is a specific ritual to the meal, including readings, prayers, and blessings from the Haggadah. There are specific symbolic foods that are included in the ritual, the pouring and drinking of four glasses of wine in conjunction with sharing matzoh (unleavened bread), bitter food (horseradish), sweet food (haroset), eggs, matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish… I hope I haven’t forgotten anything.
Joanne announced that when she was growing up the only Kosher wine was Maneshevitz – “which tastes like Dimetapp” she said, laughing. “But for me, it just wouldn’t be Passover if I didn’t have it.
“So, for anyone who wants to try it, just let me know!” And she uncapped a bottle and poured it into her glass. Scott, sitting to my left, held his glass out for it, and so did I. I’ve had it many years ago, and like the taste, which isn’t so much like cough syrup to me as it is a very sweet grape juice.
All of this was BEFORE we actually got to the main meal! Mid-point in the reading, the Haggadah was set aside until after the meal, and we were served lamb, smoked salmon, roasted vegetables, asparagus and roasted baby carrots, potato kugel, fruit kugel… along with yet more wine.
Meanwhile, Joanne announced AFTER the eggs, horseradish, matzoh, haroset, matzoh ball soup, et al that everyone should “pace yourselves” because there was a lot of food coming, PLUS four desserts!
Conversation swirled around the table as we all thoroughly enjoyed an amazing feast. The lamb chops were cooked anywhere from extremely rare to well done, and there were plenty for everyone. My medium rare chop was out of this world. Need I say that the roasted vegetables, asparagus, and kugel were also??
By the time coffee was served, and the desserts were presented, we each had eaten our fill, all while hoping to save room for the flourless chocolate torte, chocolate mousse, almond cake, and Joanne’s special caramelized matzoh with chocolate chips –as addictive as anything you can imagine!
After the meal, we picked up the Haggadah and read the concluding prayers and blessings, questions and answers. The Seder is finished, when the other half of the Matzoh is broken and passed around. With that final bite of matzoh, the meal is done and we eat no more… ending with “Next year in Jerusalem!”
The invitation had been pretty specific on the time: 6:30 – 10, so imagine my surprise when we got home and I looked at my bedside clock: 11:30 pm! What a great evening of food, wine, conversation, and beautiful ritual.
I am grateful to have been included. (and apologies to my Jewish friends for any omissions or inaccuracies.)
So, on to the oddities…
Today, I packed up the car so Max and I could continue on our homeward journey. After I came out of the shower, I discovered that Max had wiggled his way out of our room, and gone out through the doggy door to play in the back yard with Loolie and Hershey! But the better part was that Scott and Katy were out there calling me to come see the baby owl sitting in the tree.
I use the term “baby owl” loosely, for while he (or she) is not that old, she’s pretty darn big! Still covered in fluffy downy feathers, and standing a foot or more tall, she’s easy to spot once you know where to look. Dappled feathers help disguise her in the trees, but her shape is distinctive. Not really an oddity, but call her #1 for today.
Once the car was loaded, and Max was safely in, we drove out onto the street and followed Scott and Katy and their dogs to Skippy’s in Winston for those amazing hot dogs on pretzel buns that I wrote about last year.
From there, we all caravaned up Route 52 to Mt. Airy, NC and (thanks to Scott)
And along the way, I spotted a sign that read “SCENIC Collision Repair.” (Oddity #3?) I couldn’t decide if it meant the repair shop was in a scenic location or the collision was the result of the scenic location! What do you think?
Then, on to…
And that, my friends, concludes one odd day in the life…