Remembering Paskhas

Easters are not generally remembered like birthdays or Christmases.  Who really remembers stand-out Easters?  Well, thank you for asking.  I do.

My first (of three – chronologically, not in rank order) was in Queenstown.  Camping out of my Morris 1100 in off-road laybys, hooning with mates in various acts of late teen larrikin-hood.  The abiding memory, standing atop a snowless Coronet Peak in weak sunshine, intoxicated by the remarkable 360 degree scenery.  It was good to be alive.

Second one saw me (and I saw it) in Moscow with my wife.  Except that there it was called Moskva (Москва), not Moscow, and Paskha (Пасха), not Easter; and there was no off-road camping or larrikinism or one could be shot. Russian Orthodoxy. No sun either (just a whitish, suffuse light, and dirty slush all around).  But, what atmosphere; what a memory.  It was good to be alive.

Cue time ticking by and there we were: wife and me and now three kids – two larrikin sons and a haughty daughter.   Camping, but not really off-road: under willows down by the river on Uncle Mansel’s farm.  “Don’t let Mansel take you through his bull paddock,” my Mum had warned me, as she had on possibly twenty three previous visits (from the time I was five years old).  “He’s too casual.  Those bulls are dangerous.”
Well, we kept clear of the bulls.  I was scareder of Mum than the bulls.
We swam in the river when we arrived, although as soon as the larrikins reckoned eels had nibbled their feet the haughty daughter could barely be persuaded to leave the car, and the river was definitely a no-go zone for her.  I dug a magnificent long drop with a lovely rural view.  But people refused to use it, preferring the considerable distance up the hill to the farmhouse WC.

The car, by the way, an Austin Princess, was parked down the slope in the long grass.  Which became problematic during the night when black skies opened and floods came.  We huddled unsleeping until the waters began to flow through the tent – until it came time to evacuate.  We bundled what we could into the car and … but, no, the loaded Princess wouldn’t handle the drenched grassy slope.  Everybody out, unpack, take only what you can carry …  I managed to nurse the Princess up the slope in low gear while wife, larrikins and haughty daughter pushed, and we spent the rest of the night, and the next one, in sleeping bags on the floor of Uncle Mansel’s house.  But, when all was said and done, a great memory, and it was good to be alive!

Coronet Peak, Москва, Uncle Mansel’s farm in the storm … ah, yes.

There was another Paskha apparently – I wasn’t there but I’ve heard told – when a man was executed on a hill.  But, fair play, that’s one Пасха few of us care to remember.  Too raw.  Uncomfortable to contemplate and, it’s only a myth anyway, isn’t it?  That old rugged cross … nothing to do with me, is it?
It’s cosier to centre our rememberings nowadays on bunnies!  And chocolate and eggs.  None of which relates to His memory, hijacked as we have become to commercial interests.  Oblivious to the greatest story ever told.

Ah, yes, good times.  Great memories.  But give me bunnies, not crosses, eh.

Ken F

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