Easter ham gets special attention

April 17, 1995|By JACQUES KELLY

Here it is Easter Monday, and there's more than half a ham left in my refrigerator.

The rest of it disappeared yesterday, along with a lot of the energy that arrives this time of the year.

This April gust of sprightliness is entirely different from experiences called the Christmas spirit. For one, the springtime rendering is a lot less stressful.

For starters, our days are much brighter and longer than anything in December. The air seems cleaner, lighter and more inviting.

This spring has been cool and fairly dry. The color has been extended on our forsythia, flowering cherry and pear trees. Maybe we're getting only a few extra days of these pastels, but I'll take them in whatever form they come.

Along with some other Baltimoreans I spoke with, it came as a surprise that the commercial banks remained open Good Friday. The New York financial markets were closed, but Baltimore banks had their doors open.

At my local branch bank, I asked why the institution was open. The explanation I received had to do with all the mergers and banking regionalization. Baltimore is no longer its own banking boss. The new banks call the shots and it is their custom to be open on Good Friday.

It is a different world in so many ways. There was a time when Baltimore department stores closed between the hours of noon and three on this day sacred to Christians.

A friend of mine reminded me that this past Friday's weather was textbook perfect for the day -- at times blustery and cold, windy and atmospheric, with clouds and sudden brief flashes of bright sun. The day, weather-wise, was moody and cheerless.

The Easter gallop became most pronounced at the end of last week. It was literally in full flower on Saturday morning, when the day dawned bright, clear and just chilly enough to be bracing.

It was a morning made for walking. What seemed like half my neighborhood was full of energy and out on the streets. The first crop of tulips, generally the color of bright red Valentine cards, had pushed out of the ground. The last of the daffodils are making their curtain calls.

And the gusts of spring wind were dusting the air with confetti-like handfuls of powdery blossoms from weeping cherry trees and other botanical ornaments.

Baltimore's old-fashioned neighborhood shopping districts seem to encourage the holiday hum. The experience these tried-and-true corners impart is entirely different from the perfumed and overly recirculated air of the enclosed mall.

Early Saturday morning I was pacing along in the direction of the food and flower vendors at my local version in Waverly, Barclay and 32nd streets.

With some changes in custom, this scene could have been one of several old-fashioned neighborhood gathering spots.

Shoppers were snapping up bouquets of carnations and lilies. They were rummaging through bins of sweet potatoes and greens in search of the perfect ingredients for the next day's meal.

Later that day, at 36th Street and Roland Avenue in Hampden, I observed a similar pace, an April animation. Here the run was on for hot cross buns or that new pair of shoes to be worn to church. I hurried home, lighted the oven and hunted for the little spikes of whole clove. That Easter ham needed special attention.

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