© Another Day in the Country
There’s a memorial bench in the Ramona City Park for my Uncle Hank and Aunt Gertie.
Every time I see it, I’m grateful that it is still standing in one piece — it was in two pieces shortly after it was installed due to some careless adults and over-rowdy kids. However, thanks to super-duper-glue it’s back together and functioning.
That’s what we all were doing this past Sunday in the park — back together and functioning.
The Easter bunny came early with bushel baskets full of eggs, piñatas, and Easter cakes, insuring that the children in Ramona — the ones who lived here, nearby or just visiting for a day — had enough Easter joy to last them for another year.
Aunt Gertie would have loved this event because her progeny were in the park with their little boy, who was having his first Easter Egg Hunt. Just one egg was all he needed. It was a handful and plenty for him. He didn’t want two eggs or three eggs. He didn’t want to put them in a basket either. He just wanted ONE egg.
With just one he could figure out how to open the egg — that it could be more than just a bright colored egg hadn’t really entered his head. You mean there is more? For him, it was unusual enough to find a purple egg in the grass. Who could need more? And then, of course, we taught him the concept of “more” by showing his almost-2-year-old fingers how to open the egg and find chocolate or jelly beans.
I just soaked in all this wonderment of a little tyke discovering Easter eggs. Over and over again, I relished the moment for me, for his great-grandparents, long gone, for his grandparents in another state, for all the lineup of relatives and good friends who started these silly traditions that propel us out into the sunshine on a warm spring day to hunt for colored eggs. I sat on Hank and Gertie’s bench and enjoyed the view!
My mother decided, as an adult, that Easter eggs and Easter bunnies were a pagan tradition so not celebrated in our household. Mom didn’t want us to feel left out, so she tried to do other things. I remember getting goldfish for Easter one year. That was long before I knew anything about filters and air pumps — these fish were lucky to have a bowl and some fish food. They evidently didn’t do so well because I remember the subsequent fish graveyard with popsicle stick markers recording their demise. It would have been easier to just color eggs.
In contrast, Mom and her siblings grew up with a host of Easter traditions, including making Easter nests out in the yard for the Easter Bunny to lay eggs in them. She and her sister, Frieda, had a favorite spot under the lilac bushes and always took great care to make their nest special.
Remembering those stories, I always thought it would be fun to have the kids in Ramona make “Easter Nests” down in the park, and then have the Easter Bunny (in the suit of course) put eggs in each nest early on Easter morning, undiscovered by kids. I imagined the grand surprise, maybe giving out a prize for the fanciest nests, and then all of us having a tea party in the park shelter.
“It’s absolutely impossible to pull off,” someone wiser and younger said to me. “You know what would probably happen? How could you control for mischief and mayhem? Remember the rest of Mom’s story about how Uncle Hank took all her Easter eggs and substituted rotten eggs, which broke her heart?” I let it go.
Sunday in the park I was remembering all the fun we have had for Easter celebrations. I remembered that first year after we moved to Ramona and Paul promised to be the Easter Bunny if I’d make him a bunny suit. After I got the costume made and dressed him up in it, he looked with dismay at his paws.
“I can’t get my fingers out,” he said, “I’ve got to have a cigarette.” I tried not to gasp, but I got a scissors and cut holes for his fingers, and then watched him head out down the street toward the park in a cloud of smoke to hide the Easter eggs.
It was not exactly as I’d imagined it to be, that year; but, heck, it was another day in the country!