I was asked today by an acquaintance whether I had any plans for Easter, and when I said no there was a brief, awkward silence. In the South you are expected to have plans for Easter. I’m not even that thing some used to scoff at in my church-going childhood, a Christmas- and Easter-only attendee.
Yesterday I saw a poster for a local Easter egg hunt that got me thinking about how much I loved them as a child. In fact, I would go on an Easter egg hunt right this red-hot minute. First, the dyeing—getting the brightly colored boxes at the grocery store, poking out the holes to set the eggs into, boiling the eggs and letting them cool enough to handle, dropping the dullish-colored tablets into vinegar where they fizzed and bubbled, carefully dipping the eggs into the chosen color—sun yellow, lizard green, robin’s egg blue—with a little wire implement just for dipping, the bounteous feel of it. Then, waking up on Easter morning and going out in the dew-damp yard in pajamas and bare feet, holding your basket filled with wildly green artificial grass (its winter counterpart was silver “icicles” for the Christmas tree), and searching out the eggs that you had dyed and that your parents had cunningly hidden, after you were in bed, in the mailbox, a clump of grass, on top of a fence post, in the crook of a bush, at the base of a gutter-spout, on the stone wall in the back yard, at the base of an oak tree. Still glistening, the eggs were perfect in their oval blue- or green- or purpleness, drops of dew still on them, the ordinary egg become extraordinary jewel. Even though they’d counted and hidden the eggs themselves, it seemed one always escaped my parents remembering and our finding, to be happened upon much later and discarded, or—if judged soon enough not to cause food poisoning—peeled, sliced, and eaten with salt.
We’d get new dresses for Easter, and little bonnets when we were young, so that we were pastel and perfect like the eggs, and we wore white sandals that you could run in after church while the grownups stood talking. When the organ blazed and the full choir sang “Jesus Christ is risen today-ay, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-lay-ay-loo-oo-ya,” it was exalting.
The world is waking up all around us here. When I went to the Dollar General store to buy envelopes, dog biscuits, and a hose nozzle yesterday, the man at the cash register and I discussed the nice weather and the possibility of rain for Easter. “I don’t mind,” he said. “Of course you might mind if you had an Easter egg hunt planned.” I agreed that rain was needed and even, mostly, welcomed this time of year, to bring everything back to life. Regeneration. “Yes,” he said. “Rebirth going on everywhere this time of year, isn’t there?”
Thanks, Dollar General guy, for Easter on a Wednesday afternoon.
- Jennifer Horne
- Jennifer Horne grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and has lived in Alabama since 1986. The author of a book of poems, Bottle Tree (WordTech Publications, 2010), and a poetry chapbook, Miss Betty’s School of Dance (bluestocking press, 1997), she is also the editor of Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets (NewSouth Books, 2003) and co-editor, with Wendy Reed, of All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality (University of Alabama Press, 2006). She has worked as a teacher in elementary, high school, college, international, and prison classrooms, and as a journal, magazine, and book editor, and has received fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Seaside Institute. She holds a BA in the Humanities from Hendrix College, and an MA in English, an MFA in Creative Writing, and an MA in Community Counseling, all from the University of Alabama. She is married to Don Noble, a writer, editor, and literary interviewer.