Sound travels as if there were no walls or ceilings in our log home. Todd and I were in the bathroom taking a bath Thursday before Easter and I was whining, for I had recently learned that my son would not be home for the Easter weekend. And the daughter is in Boulder. Todd said, “You only have a few more days to prepare for Easter.”
“Bryce won’t be here Easter morning so he isn’t getting a basket. You’re not getting an Easter basket either. There won’t be an egg hunt if Bryce is not here Easter morning. No one has time for an egg coloring party, and what for? I’m not making homemade coconut cream nor peanut butter eggs. No one wants the calories. Easter is not what it used to be,” I said sadly.
A few minutes later Bryce came into the bathroom and told me I was basically being a baby. “How about if I hide eggs for you and dad?” he tried to make amends. I looked at him and twisted up my face. “Why would you want to do that?”
“Switch it up a little,” he said.
I just let it go.
Friday morning the wood frogs returned to our little pond. At 11 am there were 3 in our tiny pond at the back of our home. An hour later there were 20. One hour after that 40. The wood frogs began croaking and copulating and boiling the dark water and it was music to our ears. This wonderful sign of spring was a message of hope. The wood frogs reminded me to feel grateful.
Then Bryce announced that it was time for Todd and I to find eggs in the yard. He had hidden 50. He gave us each a basket and told us to “GO!” It was the first time I looked for eggs since I was 16 in my grandmother’s row home back yard in Reading, PA when the parents announced it was over. I had never wanted it to be.
Afterwards we searched the wood pile, frog pond edge, hanging kayaks along the side of the house etc. and dumped the gathered colored eggs on the grass. Bryce announced that there was a present in every egg. Since I had told him I did not want candy, we broke open the plastic spheres and found a unique drawing of a face in every single one- 50 in all. I had no idea when he even found time to make them. The grand prizes, which were in two large bunny eggs were clues to where we would find creepy clay heads that we could now add to our Easter decorations (which we sadly left in storage this year).
Todd and I were so touched that Bryce did this for us since he couldn’t be here Easter morning.
I was feeling grateful.
That night, we fired up our Finnish log sauna for some friends for the first time this spring. At River House’s Veteran’s benefit on Valentine’s Day, Todd and I offered a night in our sauna as a silent auction item. The friends who purchased it were coming Good Friday and we had an amazing night illuminated by the full moon and serenaded by the chorus of mating wood frogs by the sauna’s side. I was feeling more grateful.
It was also raining softly, pinging off the tin roof, making more music, but since this was the first warm rain of the season, it also meant a magical natural occurance would be taking place on a nearby blacktop road, as giant black salamanders made their way down Hawk Mountain and crossed to vernal pools where they would mate and reproduce. Only one night a year this happens and we got to share it with our saunaing friends. Armed with umbrellas, raincoats and headlamps, we assisted the salamanders across the road so they would night get flattened by cars and also assisted many very large toads, leopard frogs and spring peepers. They said the event was magical and they were grateful.
We returned to the house and indulged in homemade ice cream that was purposely churned on the not-so-sweet side so we could pour homemade maple syrup over top, which Todd just cooked down this week. This was a new endeavor which proved to be not only fun but yielding almost a gallon of syrup- and that was just boiling in an open crock pot. I was feeling gratitude as I slurped down vanilla ice cream and syrup. Especially after we learned that a fellow member of our Unitarian Church just discovered he had a brain tumor and had only a few months to live.
Saturday night, Holy Saturday, we had tickets to see the Tartan Terrors, a rousing, rowdy Scottish band. I recently reconnected to the midwife who delivered my children and since she told me that she has seen the band 4 times and loved them, they too purchased tickets.
We also told another couple, Rob & Peg, who frequently attend concerts, that the band was coming and to get tickets. Both couples came to our home for dinner beforehand. They did not know each other and were meeting for the first time, or so they thought. But it wasn’t long into the meal that they both realized they were here together, twenty three years ago, when I pushed Bryce into the world in the comfort of our log home. Peggy & Rob were here to help take care of three year old Sierra who witnessed her brother being born. They had not seen nor talked to Patti the midwife since that night. Peggy remarked, “where did the 23 years go?” and we all agreed that we were grateful for a wonderful life so far and beautiful children. Especially because we learned that yet another cancer-stricken friend has only a few months or even weeks to live.
When we went down to York this Easter Sunday morning, our nephews, Austin and Owen, decided that they would make an Easter egg hunt for the adults, just to switch it up. There were about 10 of us large “children” running around the yard, looking for eggs and finding all kinds of fun surprises in them from candy to toys to onions and potatoes! The kids had so much fun doing it for the adults this year.
And so as I was walking this Easter Sunday evening at sunset, feeling grateful and musing over the way things were switched up and different this holiday but still searching for more for whatever reason, it still did not feel “enough.”
I was raised Catholic. We switched to the Unitarian Universalist Church when the kids were adolescents so they could be exposed to broad teachings and philosophies. I love this church but do have a hard time at Easter. The first time we attended church there on Easter Sunday, the sermon was about spring and new life and in the middle of it, I leaned over to Todd and whispered, “They better talk about Jesus. Easter is supposed to be about Jesus.” He was mentioned in passing at the end and I was left wanting.
Easter was a big deal growing up in my Catholic family, almost as big a deal as Christmas. We had the egg hunts and the decorations and the baskets of candy, but we also got dressed up in our finest and headed to Saint Catharine’s Catholic Church where the church would be decorated with tall white lillies and everyone would belt out Alleluias and even to a kid, it was moving and emotional. My father would buy his girls orchid corsages, we’d visit Grandmom for an Easter visit and eat Polish kielbasa, ham, German potato salad, then go to the Reading Art Museum and walk the grounds with our cousins. It was about new life and spring exploding but it was also about Jesus bringing people hope.
So I decided on my walk tonight, that next year, I would go back to the Catholic church and celebrate Easter with the Catholics, sing the Alleluias and give the sign of peace and remember my childhood and where I came from, remember what helped shape me. Even if that is the only Sunday I attend, Easter should be about Jesus. Then it might not matter as much if I give an egg hunt or do the hunting myself. Todd will get an Easter basket regardless if Sierra & Bryce are around. I will make homemade chocolate eggs and deliver them to friends if we don’t want the calories. And I will work at living each day in the constant state of gratitude- for wood frogs, for spotted salamanders, for maple syrup, for the delight of sweating in our sauna, for friends who delivered my babies, for memories, for change, for the fact that I have life, for Jesus, who helped teach me that way back when.