A Bit Of Easter

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Bit of Easter

Being born in the month of April means that my birthday occasionally falls on Easter, a fact that confused me just a bit when I was little and which has forever, at least in my mind, wedded my birthday to bunnies. Makes sense really, since on those occasions when my special day arrived simultaneously with Easter, I always received, in addition to my birthday gifts, bunnies. Lots of bunnies. Stuffed bunnies, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow bunnies and books about bunnies. Perhaps my colouring too closely resembles that of Alice, or maybe even that of her famous white rabbit, for even today I seem to get an inordinate amount of cards decorated with bunnies. A neighbour once even left a large stuffed rabbit on my front porch because he said it reminded him of me. Just one more thing in life that doesn’t bear thinking about too hard.

Whether or not it coincides with my birthday, Easter has always been special to me. How well I remember those Southern childhood Easter Sundays, riding to church in a car full of old women who smelled for all the world as though they had bathed in Jungle Gardenia. There I’d be, vaguely woozy from that heady perfume, gussied up in uncomfortable frills with my feet complaining loudly about their confinement in brand new patent leather shoes, standing up to sing with everyone else... “Up from the grave He arose. With a mighty triumph o’er His foes”.
My father always gave me one perfect gardenia at Easter. Now forever a symbol of Easter for me, it's sweet fragrance bore no resemblance to that dreaded perfume beloved by the church ladies. Right up until the year he died, I would hear his car arrive in the driveway on Saturday afternoon, and there he’d be, carrying a beribboned white box up the drive. Sometimes I wore that beautiful gardenia on my lapel, sometimes I wore it in my hair. And I always kept it by my bedside as long as it lasted.

These days, I’m the giver, and I’m not precisely certain how it happened, but each year I seem to be making more Easter baskets than the year before. I start at the beginning of the week with my kitchen table deep in butterflies and flowers, Easter grass and chocolate eggs. Occasionally a lamb can be seen, but usually it’s bunnies. Lots of bunnies. Early Saturday morning is delivery time, when I sneak into the gardens of several favourite children in the neighbourhood, leaving these baskets in the middle of a Lenten rose or underneath the fronds of a fern. I then call the parents to tell them I was just driving by and happened to see a large white rabbit in their garden. “He looked rather suspicious”, I'll say. “Perhaps you should send Dahlia (or Truman, or Harlan) out to see what he’s been up to!" I rather think I have singlehandedly kept the children in my neighbourhood believing in the Easter Bunny long past the usual time of unfortunate enlightenment. I leave baskets on front porches and window sills, on benches and in gardens, to children and grown-ups alike. I have a glorious time.

This year’s baskets are almost done. It will be early to bed for me tonight, and yes, Edward will be my partner on all the deliveries tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be sublime and Edward loves this annual task almost as much as I. If it were possible, the two of us would sneak into your own garden and leave a Easter basket made just for you.
Since we cannot, here are a few special words to wish you all a very lovely Easter Sunday.
See you next week!

Easter Week
by Charles Kingsley

See the land, her Easter keeping
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Slaughs and woodlands ring with voices
While the wild birds build and sing.

You, to whom your Maker granted
Powers to those sweet birds unknown,
Use the craft by God implanted;
Use the reason not your own.
Here, while heaven and earth rejoices,
Each his Easter tribute bring-
Work of fingers, chant of voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.