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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

a train to take me home

I took the train late after work, and arrived in Port Hope under a dark sky, white snowflakes lit up under street lamps.

When I got to my grandfather's house I knocked on the kitchen door and he looked up from his brandy and smiled. He let me in and poured me a fine Irish whiskey. I asked for a Coke to drink with it, and he explained to me that such an expensive whiskey should only be drunk with a bit of water. I sipped it slowly and understood what he meant. It was smooth as butter.

We talked about Ireland. We talked about plastic surgery and botox. He said that when he was young you took care of yourself by dressing well, and if a woman gained weight she bought a bigger dress, no big deal.

He told me about how happy he is with his many daughters and one son. About how my mom was always busy as a young woman, either in beauty contests or helping her mom with her political campaigns. He told me she was always kind.

When my mother was younger the sisters took turns making him breakfast. One morning, when it was her turn, my grandfather decided to play a trick on her. He came downstairs with his boxers, shirt, tie, suspenders and shoes on, carrying his briefcase. "I think I'm forgetting something..." he told her, and she yelped "Dad, your pants!"

We talked until the late hours, then I fell asleep in the guest room, and woke to a bright sky, the snow still falling.

In the evening my brother came over to prepare a feast with me. He fried up Guiness fish and chips, while I made a big salad and an apple and pear crisp for dessert. We drank wine, tried to keep my grandfather from complaining about how long dinner was taking, and laughed like we used to. I love being in the kitchen with my brother. Not only does he have a way with food, but he's passionate, funny, excited, and uses as much garlic as I do. The dinner was comforting, and so was the company.

The next day I baked Irish Barn Brack, a fruit and nut bread my grandfather enjoyed when he was younger. It only feels natural to bake in that house, usually filled with the smell of my grandmother's Irish wheaten bread. She's away in Vancouver right now so I felt we needed a taste of her there.

I left reluctantly Monday morning, and found myself hoping my train wouldn't come when it showed up half an hour late.

I made it back in time for work, the small town of Port Hope far away, and the city at my feet.

snow covered
brown street
port hope
barn brack
barn brack recipe
irish cookbook
dining room


Blogger MiMi said...


Glad to see you had a fabulous weekend! Spending time with grandparents is always wonderful. Mine are far away and i miss them dearly. Have a Great rest of the Week! Happy V-Day!!

5:33 AM  
Blogger Lacey @ The Road is Life said...

Your gramps is adorable!!!

We have to meet some day and cook and eat-- salty, garlicky things!!!


5:48 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Pure delight.

12:42 PM  
Blogger thetiniestspark said...

Oh, you have no idea how jealous -- no, not the right word -- wistful? I am of this kind of weekend. I miss my grandparents so much it hurts, please post more stories about them, I must live vicariously thru you! Also, your grandpa's theory on what time does to a body is amazing. Buy a bigger dress. Yes. So simple. : )

5:12 AM  

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