BY SEAN MURPHY
The spring of my fifth year, Uncle George covered his suburban front lawn with horse poop and turned it into a “farm” to drive the neighbors crazy. Weekends, I stayed at Uncle George’s and helped him with the farm.
On Sundays, mom made Uncle George take me to church.
I took half of an hour getting ready. Ten minutes were spent donning the required church uniform for five-year-old Nova Scotian males: short-sleeved white shirt, Nova Scotia tartan short pants, tartan bow tie and tartan knee socks…cute. I spent another twenty minutes working through a half-tube of Uncle George’s Brylcreem into my hair so it laid as flat and shiny as an ice-rink.
George dressed to aggravate Father Murphy. He wore his favorite 7-up sweatshirt, his sweat-stained 7-up ball cap, green dungarees and the black, knee-high rubber boots that he had been wearing while shoveling horse poop all week. The rubber boots were essential. They not only smelled to high heaven they also galumped when he walked so that they would drown out Father Murphy’s Latin.
Mom maintained that George and Father Murphy had fallen out over the teaching of home economics in the church school. Dad said it had more to do with a bottle of rum and a poker game.
George’s major concession to the Lord’s Day was that he did not drink before church. He mixed a tall rum and 7-up and kept it in the van console for ready access after the sacrament.
On the way to church, George would drive around for a bit to make sure we were late; then he would park the van, check his rum drink and galump up the church steps and boom open the big oak door. The procession from the door to our seats most resembled an old fishing schooner chugging into a crowded cove.
George galumped all the way down the center aisle, to the front pew, with me bobbing cheerfully in his wake like a brand new, brightly-painted dory. George would put his helm, hard over, stop and take a disapproving look around the tiny church to see what hypocrites had turned out. Then he would drop anchor and thump into his seat in the middle of the front row. After a couple of seconds staring down a fuming Father Murphy, George would cross his booted legs and snap open his newspaper. The snap said it all.
George ignored the standing, sitting, kneeling, crossing and amens until it came time to take collection. The senior male of our family had been taking collection in that little church for generations. George was damned if there were going to be any changes on his watch. He folded his paper and galumped up and down the aisles with the basket until the offering was taken. Then he would drop the basket on the communion rail, summon me with a jerk of his head, and I was up and bobbing in his wake and out the door.
George was into his rum drink before the rest of the congregation had cleared the final blessing.
When we got back to the farm he would cook up what he called Acadian eggs.
1) Clean out the fridge and gather half-used onions, peppers, carrots, shallots, a little garlic and celery. Some spinach or parsley is helpful.
2) Grate up the ends and rinds of any cheeses you find. Dice everything up about the size of the end of your finger. Cook it in a pan with a little butter, so it still has some crunch without browning it.
3) Season with salt and pepper, fresh thyme (whole twigs) and fresh basil. Add about a quarter cup of chicken broth or V-8 just to build a little extra broth/veggie jus.
4) Carefully crack your eggs over the top of the mix and sprinkle a little grated cheese and parsley over the whole thing. Lower the heat, pop on the lid and steam/poach your eggs until they are cooked to your preference. Spoon it up in bowls with toasted brown bread.
If it doesn’t go right don’t call me – I’ll be in church.