Easter at the lake is marked like everywhere with the arrival of Spring. As a child my first brush with the excitement of Spring came with the arrival of crocus peeking up in our yard in Illinois. I would run outside each day and count how many of tiny colored plants had arrived overnight. The blooming crocus overlapped the burgeoning forsythia bushes that framed our yard in yellow which was followed by the daffodils. Once the tulips arrived we were deep into springtime.
We have the same flowers here at the lake but the event we look forward to each year is the blooming of the cherry tree. The tree sits in front of Quinn’s bedroom window and at some point I declared it “her tree” and nominally dedicated it to her. This did not sit well with her brother who felt this arrangement was preferential because of the arbitrary location at her windows. Later in the season when the enormous rhododendron bloomed giant deep pink flowers outside his window I made a similar declaration for him. He was having none of it and continued to claim the cherry tree which drove his sister crazy.
When we moved into our home we realized that the landscape down to the water held a lot of pitfalls for the lay gardener but it didn’t take a great deal of imagination to see the potential for a grand Easter egg hunt. So when the first Easter rolled around I stealthily snuck outside at daybreak and peppered the yard with colored plastic eggs. The tradition endured over the years as nieces and nephews showed up to help find the one hundred eggs. Each year we came up short because the yard was too good at hiding treasure. In the middle of July while digging up dandelions or turning over a rock a small pink or green egg would materialize and be added back into the bag filled with Easter eggs in the attic waiting for another year, another hunt.
When Anne, Rob’s mother, moved into assisted living she spent all of her holidays at our house. We began each Easter with the ceremonial egg dying. It was always Anne’s favorite part of the day. She would start with solid colors and then branch out and joins us as we tried to individualize our creations.
“This is my Italian flag egg,” Rob said resting a striped red, white and green egg back into the egg carton.
“This is my Quinnie egg,” I’d say to my daughter’s delight setting down one with a yellow top and pink face. “And this is my Jackson egg,” I’d add pointing to the one with a red top. I’d enhance the colors with pencil drawn caricatures over the subtle colors. Anne soon took up the pencil and started drawing bunny faces on the front of her eggs.
As the years went by we had to make more and more hard boiled eggs because Anne could not get enough. She suffered from short term memory loss that manifested in various forms. One Easter after sitting around the table dying over three dozen eggs with her I selected a pretty assortment of our craft and arranged them on the table in a bowl as a centerpiece. The rest of the family arrived and we all went into the dining room to eat dinner.
My mother-in-law came in to take her seat and noticed the bowl of eggs and gasped, “Where did all these beautiful eggs come from?”
We all paused and silently noted that her memory had shifted down a notch. Holidays have always served as benchmarks in time. Cultures and families celebrate events and holidays to help mark that time in memory as a reference point to remembering the rest of the year.
“You just made them,” Rob said to his mother very slowly. “In the kitchen a few minutes ago.”
“No kidding!” she said smiling and then clapped her hands at the thought of it.
Then we all laughed and ate our meal knowing that in addition to celebrating Easter we were little by little observing the steady march of time that in the end changes everything.