Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Baptist Ash Wednesday--On the Farm

Okay, I know you've had enough of the Ash Wednesday/Lenten theme, but I received an email yesterday, written with no audience in mind but me, that was too good not to share!

So today's guest blogger dad! (A Baptist, a farm boy who taught biology till retirement, and now the manager of the family farm where I grew up.)

Just wanted to tell you that we are having our second consecutive Ash Wednesday again this year. And yes, we are using the ash residue from last year's tea, that's another blog...last year's palm leaves.

Guess who the resident pyroclericrat is? Me. Our pastor asked me last spring to burn them and provide them to him, which I agreed to. I spent a year trying to think how could I provide unadulterated ash from consumed palm leaves. The fireplace, even if vacuumed, didn't seem kosher.

Under the pressure of time-running-out and desperation moving in, I took a big round aluminum tray that came with meats and cheeses arranged on it that was stored in the chicken house. Pulled out the tub from under the wood-loaded trailer in the carport we wash the dog in that has had 20 or so small ears of corn laying in it to dry this winter to feed to squirrels next summer when they start eating our pears.

Back to the chicken house, found a refrigerater shelf I'd retained for such a time as this. I set the aluminum pan on the corn and laid the refrigerator shelf across the top of the tub. The right amount of corn is critical because I wanted six inches or so distance for the ashes to fall gently. I set this up in the afternoon, but had to wait until early evening when it was less windy in the carport. I had to be out of the wind, but I didn't want to catch anything else on fire, such as the house.

I put 4-5 leaves on the shelf and lit them; they flared up rather impressively and died down quickly, so I fed a little handful in after the burn diminished. When they were all burned, I went back to the chicken house, found a piece of window screen, filtered the ash, bottled in in a taco-dip jar and delivered it to the Pastor.

Yes, my pack rat tendencies are surely an inheritance from my dad. (But see how handy they can be?!)

Only my dad would have been able to locate that meat & cheese tray, that refrigerator rack, and that taco-dip jar in the chicken house. There are several other outbuildings they could have been located in. (I would have thought they'd have been in the tenant house!)

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