Last night, my Rent-A-Chaplain Assistant, SSG L, and I went to a fancy dinner off-Post at which I was supposed to give an Invocation. It was a rainy and cold evening -- just cold enough to make the ice everywhere really slick. The cleats for my boots arrived, and none too soon!
Into that mix, add in barnyard and domestic animals, as well as the odd woodland critter, crossing the road in the dark, and you get an idea of our trip to the restaurant last night. At one point a small black and white cat darted across the road, and only SSG L's expertise behind the wheel prevented disaster.
There are often chickens, cows, and sheep on the roads.
The darkness quite effectively hides the pedestrians, but not the trash, along the roadsides. This is a very beautiful country, as I've mentioned before, except for the trash. It's especially disconcerting to see the chickens foraging for food among the trash on the sides of the roads.
The drive up the hill to the restaurant was treacherous because of the ice. The restaurant overlooks a large valley, and probably has a spectacular view in the daytime. Because there's so little "light pollution" in the valley, we couldn't see much from the dining room. Because of the rain, there wasn't any moonlight, either.
As with so many other places I've been to over here, the restaurant was an ice box inside. The proprietor had the heat on, such as it was, but with a wall of single-paned windows, and no insulation in the ceiling, the room remained frigid throughout dinner. SSG L and I were the last two people at the table to get served the soup.
Actually, SSG L was the last person to get soup. I was just about finished with mine by the time he was finally served.
As I was eating the chicken noodle soup (which was actually pretty good, and wonderfully hot) I couldn't help but say to SSG L, "Wow! I can taste the plastic bag this chicken ate yesterday." He looked very puzzled. "You know, all those chickens eating trash on the side of the road? You know, I can detect only a hint of road kiil in the broth. Delicious!"
By this time, SSG L's own soup had finally arrived.
He took a couple of tentative tastes, and I asked, "Isn't that a lovely aroma? Can't you just taste the road kill?"
He smiled sheepishly.
"Remember the cat earlier this evening? I hope you enjoy your 'chicken with cat soup', Sar'nt."
He put down his spoon, and didn't finish the soup, for some reason.
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ