Friday, April 22, 2011

Speaking of Eggs




We have a gull problem in Elmira.  If you don't know where Elmira is, it's smack in the middle of New York State right close to the Pennsylvania border and several hours from the beach I might add.   When we first moved here and saw all the gulls, they seemed oddly out of place.  Just showing my ignorance I guess because I thought they preferred the ocean.  These particular birds, however, are more than happy with the river that runs through the middle of our city, but the city is not particularly happy with them.  They're messy, noisy and extremely annoying and there's been a lot of complaining around here, especially by the business owners. So last year the city council invited the United States Deparment of Agriculture in to help curb the gull population.  The government people accepted the invite, showed up just in time for mating season and started stealing eggs out of those poor birds' nests.  They say if the eggs are removed for three years, the problem should be pretty much under control.  Hope so.  I'm not overly fond of those screeching, dirty birds.  But at the same time I have to feel a bit sorry for them.  After all, to them they're not just eggs.  They're children.

 
Speaking of eggs, there's been some news recently about an elementary school in Seattle that will no longer allow you to say Easter egg,  referring to it instead as a "spring sphere."  Now before you go on,  try saying that really fast four or five times in a row.  I'll bet you found that harder than repeating sea shells at the seashore didn't you?  Now imagine some little four or five-year-old kid saying, "Mama, look at all the spring spheres I found!"  Yeah, right.  There's also a rumor that the city's Parks Department has removed the word Easter from all its advertised egg hunts as well.  So I pulled up their website to check it out.  It's true, there are no Easter egg hunts being sponsored by the city.  Nope, they're having Spring Eggstravanzaaa.  Huh?  I had to look at that word several times and then sound it out to make sure I was saying it right. Still not sure if I did.  First I thought it was "eggstravaganza."  But a letter's missing so it can't be that.  Or maybe they meant to write that, but in making up the word simply forgot a letter.

No matter.  Wouldn't it have been easier just to call the event what it is,  like an Easter egg hunt maybe?  But no, heaven forbid that some atheist or hindu or buddhist or fill in the blank might want to take their child to the event but feels terribly uncomfortable because someone uses the word, get ready to gasp, Easter!  The funny thing about all this much ado about nothing is that the word Easter is actually pagan in origin anyways, it being the name for a spring goddess or something.  But I guess the powers to be haven't the time to check out the etymology of the word.  After all, they're too preoccupied with other matters.  You know,  like banning anything they deem offensive from the English language.

One Easter morning with our mother
One Easter morning when there were five of us
To be honest, I have always associated Easter with eggs.  I don't think my mom ever missed a sunrise service, yet she always managed to have the Easter eggs already hidden throughout the house before we woke up.  They'd be everywhere: in corners, on ledges, under furniture, in shoes.  I still see the five of us combing the house for hidden eggs and baskets, eager to show her what we'd found as she came through the door. 
 

Some of our Herrickville kids getting ready for the Easter egg hunt
 
The day would come when I would hide the eggs for my own children.  I loved our parsonage in Herrickville.  It was an old renovated farmhouse sitting on three and a half acres of land with a couple of outbuildings and a barn.  It was paradise, especially for those who love egg hunts.  And though Pennsylvania springs are never a guarantee of perfect weather, Easters were never disappointing,  An early March Easter pretty much guaranteed cold, sometimes icy weather, but we were a family and church full of children.  We'd always find a place and a way.
 
Easter eggs hunts usually meant warm coats in Pennsylvania!
Eventually we ended up in Central America.  Unlike the unpredictability of our Easter mornings in Pennsylvania, we always knew what to expect in Honduras.  It would be hot, very hot.  We had a close community of American friends in La Ceiba, primarily missionaries, but teachers and employees of Standard Fruit as well.  At Christmas we had a party, at Thanksgiving we had a feast, and at Easter we had an egg hunt.  The Standard Fruit Company has a wonderful school in La Ceiba that sits on several acres of lush, green land, the perfect setting for hiding things.  Several of us would boil and dye, then gather on Saturday to disperse our colored creations in that  lovely garden where the school just happens to sit.  The fathers would arrive a bit later with children in tow, their baskets clutched in excitement and anticipation.

Fawn hunting eggs at Mazapan
Some of the missionary kids after the egg hunt


 But the egg hunts weren't finished.  My children would insist that the eggs be hidden again on Easter day.  So that afternoon behind the mission house, among the coconut palms and banana plants I would hide the eggs they had gathered the day before.  Once found, they would pool them together and insist they be hidden again.  Then again.  And again.   And once their parents tired of the game it was their turn, each hiding them for their siblings until the eggs were hardly recognizable.  Obviously, we never had anything left for deviled eggs or sandwiches.  But that's alright.  Some eggs are just meant for other things.

 
Egg hunting in one of the fields by our place

Everyone loves to hunt for Easter eggs!

Hunting eggs in Prattville, Alabama

Three of our children were teenagers when we moved to Alabama, but the Easter egg hunts continued.   We had a lovely home on a cul-de-sac with lots of yard and fields on either side.  We seemed to again have the perfect spot, and year after year the children came to find what was now candy-filled plastic eggs. Eventually my own grandchildren joined the ranks of those who came with baskets in eager anticipation.  Because of the warm springs in Alabama, we didn't usually put chocolate into the oval-shaped containers.   But the children didn't care.  The joy is in the hunting and finding.  By the way,  I heard the church had their egg hunt last week.  I wrote someone asking where it was held.  "Your house,"  they wrote back.  Like I said, some places are just perfect.

Tyler with his Aunt Autumn at our house in Prattville   

 
Our granddaughter Hayley at her first egg hunt

We don't have a place for egg hunts right now.  Our parsonage has a small yard and the church sits by a busy road, hardly conducive for children's activities.   But there's a nice park not too far from the church with lots of grass and open spaces.  I've thought about calling city hall and seeing what we'd have to do to get permision to use it.  I'm hoping it won't be a problem.   I think it would be absolutely perfect.
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