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The Nun And The Elephant Are In Heaven Now, Enjoying The Same God

Many years ago, I received a phone call from a rather panicked Government Administrator. There was a huge weekend Arts Conference being held, for all disciplines in the province. A reader who was to present entertainment at lunch was unable to attend. Could I fill in for him. It was two days away.

Yes, said I.

My Elephant stories are all under five minutes, and they are all amusing. They read themselves. Why not. 

What I did not realize was the extent of this conference. Nor did I fully appreciate that the readings were to be held during the luncheon. Something like an after dinner speech. In the middle of the dinner.

There was one other English reader, the late Bill Bauer. Bill is a genius, a wit, a funny fellow, and an excellent reader. A tough act to follow, so I was glad to be a co-participant. The other two readers were reading in French (New Brunswick is a bi-lingual province). They were to go first, Bill and I second.

The venue – for a reader – was a hell-hole (if I may be blunt). Two large rooms filled with tables and post-meal listeners. There was no way to face them all at the same time. Bill seemed fazed by nothing but I was uncomfortable. I was glad enough the French readers went first.

They were both poets (as was Bill). My French is far from the best but, by their reading method and the reaction of the audience, it appeared that they read dour and angst-filled poems. Sadness and despair crept through the room(s). At least Bill and I would be a contrast.

Bill is an excellent performer. He knows when to show them and knows when to hold them. He is insightful, philosophical, innovative, and just damned funny. I will laugh at a poem of his which I have read a dozen times. Few can successfully end a poem with the main character screaming the immortal words: “Aphids, aphids, aphids.” Bill does.

It may be that we were both assisted by the dour poets, for Bill’s applause was enthusiastic. I was admittedly disconcerted by attempting to read to these hundreds of people scatted upon two sides of me. But – let’s face it – ya gotta laugh at The Elephant as he takes his concerns to God. And (I hope) appreciate God’s thoughtful and kindly replies. If Bill left them laughing (and he did) then The Elephant left them laughing more.

At the end, it was time for all the participants to bustle back to their conferences. But some did come up to make comments to the readers. And then occurred an event which I will cherish to my grave.

An elderly French nun (in real nun garb) came up to me. She was assisted by a younger nun. The old Sister put her hand on my arm. She looked up at me, and in a conspiratorial voice, thick with her French accent, said: “Ah, that Elephant.”

And she smiled.

It Is Pot Of Stew Day For The Blessed Arrival Of Sister Darling

Sister Darling, of

The Rarefied Church of the World (reformed),

Will arrive

On the Sunday tide,

To help me on the way

To Heaven.

So, I will prepare,

And let simmer,

A rip-roaring

Pot o’ stew,

To warm her up,

(As she warms me)..

Turnips & parsnips,

Carrots & potatoes,

Onions & garlic & a trove

Of seasonings.

All to augment,

And enhance,

The liberal chunks

Of venison.

It will simmer overnight

Much as will I.

She will bring bread,

And pastries,

And a jug of red wine,

Though she is more than welcome

If she arrives

Empty handed.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2022 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

A Meal For Sailors Home From The Sea & Staying Together During A COVID Pandemic Lock Down

It is ever-practical Linda who knows a thing or fifty-two about what sailors who have been long on the sea want to eat and drink when first ashore, who suggests a menu, and is more than willing to prepare it all herself, but is convinced by Bridget that, in this instance, too many cooks will not spoil the broth.

“So what’s first?” asks Bridget.

“Always beer,” says Linda. “And a small bowl of nuts. And since this is so special, make them cashews.”

“That’s like a tease,” says Amanda.

“Yes.”

“And what’s next?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Potato canoes, with lots of bacon in the mix,” says Linda. “And cook the bacon at the time, so he can smell it.”

“Crafty,” says Bridget.

“Tricks of the trade,” says Linda.

“What’s up next?” asks Amanda.

“As fresh a salad as you can make,” says Linda. “If there are cucumbers and mushrooms, so much the better, because those don’t keep well on a ship.” Linda winks. “And throw in some dried cranberries.”

“You’ve entertained sailors home from the sea,” says Amanda.

“I have,” agrees Linda. “My father and my brother. All this I have learned at my mother’s knee.”

“Home cookin’.” says Alison Alexandra. “What’s the main course?”

“Steak – always,” says Linda. “Sirloin tip with the cap on – or better.” She speaks sternly. “And don’t overcook it – even though they say that’s what they want. They don’t. They want the taste, and will appreciate it.”

“I hope we’re all getting this,” says Amanda.

“And fried onions,” says Linda. “On the side.”

“For the smell,” says Bridget.

“Always a winner,” says Linda.

“Any other side dish?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Fried rice,” says Linda. With BBQ pork and onions in it.”

“But we already have potato,” says Amanda.

“They can’t get too much starch,” says Linda. “And they get to choose as much as they want out of the bowl.”

“Large bowl,” says Bridget.

“You bet’cha,” says Linda.

“Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“What about dessert?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We offer apple pie with ice cream, and rice pudding with a velvety skin on top.”

“That’s quite a choice,” says Bridget.

“Oh, those sailor boys will choose some of each.”

“Is that it?” asks Amanda.

“No.” Linda smiles. The end is a pot of bitter Chinese tea, a plate of thin, crisp, mildly sweet cookies, and a bottle of amber rum.”

“I’m stuffed,” says Bridget.

“Welcome home,” says Linda.

A Celebration Of Christmas Day With Mincemeat On Partridge Island

The last thing

I anticipated
On Christmas Day was
A mincemeat pie fight.
But,
Thanks to Sister Darling of the
Rarefied Church of the World (reformed),
One took place.

As it is,
I already thank her
For my soul’s salvation,
And

My sanity.


Paw,
My cat/kitten
Black as a currant
With one white mitten
Took part in this
Food festivity.
Took part heartily, indeed.

Nibbling shreds of venison
While assiduously
Licking suet from his fur
Well into the sunset.


Such Christmas merriment
Was enough
To make me
Hoist the signal flag,
On my Lighthouse dock,
To indicate
No pick-up was needed
On the fishing fleet’s return.


Sister Darling produced,

An apple pie
From her hamper
For this unexpected

Second supper.
Paw took no
Interest in it
At all.


I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}
DE BA. UEL

Alison Alexandra Tastes Humble Food From The Gods

Alison Alexandra does open the door. She is met with a barrage of deep and alluring odours. They are rich and fresh and smooth and piquant, and every one of them inviting.

“Take these.” Emma Alice hands her a small metal ladle and a pottery cup.

‘What do I do with these?”

“Sample.”

“Try them?”

“Yes.” Emma Alice laughs. “Though I mix metaphors – go hog wild.”

Emma Alice removes the lid from the first ceramic urn. It is full of rich white cream. Alison Alexandra dips the ladle, and pours a small portion into her mug.

“Oh, that’s rich.” Alison Alexandra takes a final sip. “Rich and mellow.”

“Creamy?” Emma Alice laughs.

“Yes – exactly.”

“Cream from Jersey cows,” says Emma Alice. “It is always smooth.”

“Will you be selling it?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We use a lot of it here. It’s a favourite” Emma Alice puts the lid of the urn back in place. “But we will sell the rest. Or trade.”

“Trade?”

“Yes. It’s much easier and more fulfilling.” Emma Alice starts toward another urn. “You have what they want, and they have what you want.”

“So you don’t have to produce what they already can provide.”

“Exactly.” Emma Alice lifts another lid. “Nor they for what we make. Time and expense saved on both sides.” She points into the urn. “Now for something different.”

Alison Alexandra dutifully puts the ladle in and takes a small portion of liquid. She pours it into her mug and puts it to her lips.

“Wowza!”

“What a word.” Emma Alice giggles.

“What a taste,” says Alison Alexandra. “What a difference.” She puckers her lips. “It’s not poison, is it?”

“It serves its purpose.” Emma Alice replaces the lid. “It’s whey – the liquid remaining when you make cheese from milk. It is used in baking, to temper other tastes.”

“But still.” Alison Alexandra gives a discreet cough. “You are pulling a prank.”

“A bit” Emma Alice takes off the lid of an urn from a higher shelf. “It will make this buttermilk seem palatable.”

“Oh, I’ve actually had buttermilk,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Have you?”

“I think it was touted as being good for digestion.” Alison Alexandra stretches to put the ladle into the container. “I did not take it for very long.”

She pours an amount into her mug. She takes a sniff before she takes a sip.

“I’d make the same decision today.”

“The whey didn’t wet your taste buds?

“Not by a drop.”

“Well,” Emma Alice taps the lid back into place. “Enough of the bitter, now for the sweet.”

“I’m going to get a treat?”

“Fine Holstein milk.” Emma Alice paces across the floor. “Straight out of the cow.”

“I like the bulk of a Holstein,” says Alison Alexandra. “They seem more solid with their black and white markings. ‘Moo! Moo! Get outta the way!’”

“The train engine among cattle,” suggests Emma Alice.

“They emote more purpose,” says Alison Alexandra.

“See what you think.” Emma Alice lifts the cover off a large urn.

Alison Alexandra can tell from the rich, warm smell of the milk that a treat is in store. She puts her ladle more deeply than usual, and brings it back as full as full can be. She pours it into her mug without a drop sliding down the side. She sips in the same careful manner. She looks directly at Emma Alice and grins.

“Moo!”

“Taste buds calmed?”

“Yes.”

“Little Miss Muffet trauma removed?”

“Yes.” Alison Alexandra exaggerates a startled look. “Why – were there spiders?”

“There are always spiders,” says Emma Alice. “They foil the insects. But I think none will dangle by your tuffet.”

“Oh, that would be all right.” Alison Alexandra scoots out the last drops of milk with her little finger. “I actually like spiders.”

A Meal From The Sea, A Feast As Fresh As Fresh Can Be

A fishing boat

Came into my

Lighthouse dock,

And rang its wheelhouse bell.


So, down I went.


The skipper had some
Unexpected provisions for me.


Crabs – it’s the season.


Lobster (he apologized for

The junk fish, but he knows I

Quite like it, whereas others

Class them as fare only

For the poor).


And Dulse!

A burlap sack

Of Dulse.


Now that is a treat.

Salty, .dried and crisp
Seaweed.

I have it with sharp cheddar.


I don’t know why folk complain

About lobster

.Boil them up, but not too long.

Crack them open with a hammer

.Have a loaf of bread.

Melt a large bowl of butter.


Dunk


A hunk of bread

With one hand,

And a chunk of lobster

With the other.

Pause occasionally with

Dulse and cheese.


Suck your fingers.


I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}DE BA. UEL

Sister Darling Comes To Call To Save My Soul And That’s Not All

On the fourth Sunday 

Of every second month

Sister Darling of the


The Rarefied Church of the World (reformed)


Arranges to hop on a boat


Of the out-going fishing fleet,


And visit Partridge Island.


She returns to port


The same night


On a returning fishing boat.


In between her coming


And going,


She does her


Very best


To bring me


To the Lord.


I like to think


She succeeds.


And,


After this hefty dose


Of Bible and prayer,


We commune in the way


(She assures me),


That God intended.


Then we have a meal


I prepare,


Of venison, or salmon, or fowl,


And potato soup


And pie,


And ale,


And she departs

On a returning boat


Singing hymns.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}DE BA. UEL

Thanksgiving Feast For Man And Beast

My black-as-night kitten
With one white mitten
Is called Paw.
He has become
A favourite of the ships
That pass my Lighthouse.
So
I was not totally surprised
When an outgoing schooner
Hove to, and a row boat came
To my dock, to bring me
My Thanksgiving dinner.
The Masters of the Port
Are very good this way,
To me,
For all holidays.
And in my basket of
Food (and – yes – wine),
Was a fancy small pot
For Paw.
Exactly the same as Mine.
Except
With the addition of
A gingham bag
Of catnip.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

Happy Birthday To Me / Hippo Bird Day Two Ewes

 

happy-birthday-1-728

There will be scampi on a plate with breakfast for my birthday.

     Quarts of wild strawberries will float in flagons of cold Rhinish wine. Blueberries will be hidden by thick cream, and golden honey shall trickle from plates of buttered toast. Braces of quail and brown roasted turkey will be surrounded by steaming heaps of new potatoes and tender ears of corn. Joints of beef and lightly curried lamb will stand between bottles of red Anjou wine and jugs of red Italian fire.

     A smoking, suckling pig will have bowls of dry, yellow squash at its feet and stacks of cheeses at its head. Pastry and pies and a foot high chocolate cake will stand among jars of brandied fruit. A cask of aged port will remain, to do justice at the end.

     Then I shall settle back to patiently await my dinner.

[Image] https://image.slidesharecdn.com/brthdy-1225815250925041-9/95/happy-birthday-1-728.jpg?cb=1225786507

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