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Easter with Baba Olena 复活节大餐
2019/4/11 14:06:48 来源: 世知网

·By Vila Gingerich      ·Art by Anna Chernyshova 

·金羽菲 译


Most afternoons, Pete hung out with other fourth-graders, but he saved Tuesdays for his neighbor Baba Olena.

The Tuesday before Easter, Baba was spading her yard when Pete strolled up .

Dark strips of soil showed where she’d worked. Chickens followed her, pecking for grubs.

Pete watched as he finished his corn chips. “Do you have chips in Ukraine ?” he asked.

Baba leaned on her shovel . “I do not eat chips—only real food—but Ukrainian children do. They eat mushroom chips, onion chips, and . . . I forget how you say it. Skunk , maybe?”

“Skunk chips?Blech!”

Baba chuckled . “No, not skunk. What is the name of the little octopus that starts with s?”


“That is it.”

Pete laughed. “Squid chips sound pretty bad, too!”

When they stopped laughing, Baba mixed a bucket of whitewash. Pete brushed the stones lining the flower beds until they stood bright and clean against the grass. Then Baba showed him how to whitewash the tree trunks, two feet up, Ukrainian-style.

“Dobre,” she said when he finished. “Good. Ready for Easter. Pete, where do you eat on Easter Sunday?”

Pete pointed down the street at Dixie’s Diner. “Guess we’ll eat over there, like most Sundays.”

Baba sniffed. “Eat here! It will be nice to eat the Easter meal with your family.”

“Uh, I don’t think Dad and Mom would come,” Pete said.

“Why not?”

Pete tried to answer, but Dad’s words clogged his brain.As if cackling chickens—in town—isn’t enough! Now she has a plowed field, too?

Pete looked around. The yard did resemble a field, but the white tree trunks glowed in the afternoon sun. Baba’s maroon hair shone, too.

“I will cook much food for Easter, just in case,” Baba said. “Now, a snack, maybe?”

“Yes!” Pete knew what waited inside. Thin cheese slices on brown bread with slathers of butter. Plump pastries. Canned cherries, like rubies in a jar. Baba drank hot tea that smelled of sunshine and flowers.

At home during suppertime, Pete seized his chance. “Baba Olena wants us to come for Easter dinner,” he announced.

Mom shook her head. “That’s sweet, but I don’t think so.”

Dad laughed. “I wouldn’t want to seem rude if I didn’t like her cooking. Can you tell

her thanks but we already have plans?”

Pete sighed. His parents barely knew Baba Olena. They didn’t know about her pastries and funny sayings. All they saw was a woman with weird hair and a yard full of chickens.

Pete’s shoulders slumped. He remembered how Baba’s eyes sparkled when she showed him the basket of dyed eggs and the woven tablecloth brought all the way from Ukraine. Would she have anyone to celebrate with?

On Easter Sunday, they passed Baba Olena’s house as they headed for Dixie’s Diner.

Pete gazed at Baba’s spaded yard. Even her house looked eager, as if it waited for guests.“Couldn’t we—” he began.

Then Mom groaned. Dixie’s Diner was dark, and no cars were in the lot.

“What?” said Dad. “They’re always open!”

“Not today,” Mom said. “Guess we’ll be making sandwiches.”

Across the street, Baba Olena stepped onto her porch, waving her apron.

Pete grinned. “Looks like Baba’s expecting us.”

“We can’t go there,” Dad said, but Baba was hurrying over.

“You came! I am so happy,” she said. “This morning I saw the diner is closed and thought maybe you will come.”

Inside, Pete’s parents sat stiff as yardsticks while Baba beamed and fussed. She moved a platter an inch, then squeezed another dish onto the embroidered tablecloth.

Dad looked at the red mound. “What’s this?”

“Beet salad. I use the juice for my hair.” Baba winked at Pete.

Was that true? The colors did match.

“And this—” She set down bowls of what looked like little half-moon pillows—“isvarenyky, Ukrainian stuffed dumplings. These have cabbage filling; those have potato. No skunk today.”

Mom gasped.

Baba chuckled.

Pete laughed and explained about the “skunk” chips. Dad and Mom laughed, too.

Mom bit into a varenyky. “Delicious!”

“Dobre!” Baba Olena said. “Good you like it.”

By the time she cut the round Easter bread, which she calledpaska, everyone was talking.

“Now I see why Pete wanted to eat here,” Dad said.

Mom nodded. “And why he praises you nonstop.”

Later, Baba Olena brought out the basket of dyed eggs. “It’s an old Ukrainian tradition to tap Easter eggs,” she said. “See, Pete, hold yours to mine, end to end, like this. The egg that doesn’t crack, wins.”

Pete held his egg ready. “I already won something,” he said. “Thisdobryday!”

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