Although we missed our own Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner and burning-of-the-palms this year, I love this traditional prelude to Lent. After we left Norwood, Massachusetts, our friend Alan became vicar of a small church there. He has since written a book, and more to the point, produced this homage to Shrove Tuesday pancake dinners, inspired by Robert W. Service's The Shooting of Dan McGrew. As a fan of all three (Service, Alan, and Shrove Tuesday pancakes), I had to reproduce it here (with permission).
The kitchen crew was whippin’ it up
at the Redeemer pancake dinner.
The band that was playin’ the Bluegrass tunes
was pickin’ ‘em out like a winner.
There at the back was a man in black,
who was speakin’ of Israel;
And by his side was the love of his life,
the lady that's known as Gail.
The cause of all of this merriment
was the upcoming purple season;
And so the crowd was chewin’ the fat,
as if they needed a reason.
The following day would bring ashes and grief,
forty days of a somber tone.
But tonight they wore beads and sated their needs
by carvin’ the ham to the bone.
The vicar was telling the lamest of jokes,
as the vicar is wont to do.
They say that the Anglicans know how to drink,
and they surely know how to eat too.
These are the simple facts of the case,
and I guess I ought to know.
There was food and fun, and everyone smiled,
I saw as I watched them go.
There’s a time for Lent and a time to repent,
but the season goes down so much better,
If you start it off by gorging yourself
on homemade pancakes and butter.
When he was young, my father had a two-mile walk to work, and used the time to memorize long poems, including Dan McGrew and another Service work, The Cremation of Sam McGee. Later, upon request, he would recite them to his children and grandchildren. That pleasure cemented my love of the poems, and it came flooding back when I read Alan's verse. Thank you, Alan and Vivien!