Not deferential enough: Easter Sunday

Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Opinion

by Gina Hamilton

Turning Tide Cottage is as tidy as it ever gets unless I hire someone to come in for the day, due to a burst of spring straightening up (I would not call it spring "cleaning" because it really is just a reshuffling of the clutter. I don’t do windows, or scrub floors, although both need it rather desperately, and I hate vacuuming). Come to think of it, I am not sure we can call this spring, either. I have a blooming forsythia in my hall, begging to be planted in its permanent home, but with temperatures in the low 30s overnight, I worry about it. I am sure that forsythia can handle the occasional light frost, but can the ground handle the spade? We’ll find out today.

I had some of the writers over for a little celebratory reception and an opportunity for them to meet one another on Saturday night. One of the downsides to an online newspaper is that the staff and contributors don’t ever see each other … everyone’s working quietly at home on their laptops, and the community that comes with an office is not there. Of course, the office politics and competitions aren’t there, either, so it’s a tradeoff.

The tech staff was invited too, but they either forgot or something else turned up, which was probably fine because the crowd was of an age with me or older, and the tech kids might not have had too much in common. As it was, my own son and heir, who also writes for the New Maine Times, hid out upstairs for the duration, finally emerging when just a few people were left behind. Nobody ate my cake (well, mine and Betty’s) and so in addition to wild blueberry pie later, we also have white cake, which tastes pretty good. And, we also have a couple of bottles of champagne (well, actually Spanish cava) left over and that means mimosas for brunch today.

It’s Easter Sunday, and that used to mean something more to me than plastic eggs and jelly beans and stuffed bunny toys for Rudie the Dog and a midday meal far nicer than on a typical Sunday. I guess it still does, even though the church and I have parted company – an amicable divorce, it is true, but a divorce all the same. We can be pleasant to one another – politeness costs nothing, as my mother used to say. We see one another now and then at life markings like weddings and christenings and first communions and funerals, and occasionally at other times for the sake of the relatives, but as none of them are in town this week, I can skip it. And I will.

But I still celebrate the change of season to the hopefulness of spring from the deadest part of winter, when the put-up foods from last summer begin to lose their flavor and the root-cellar apples are wrinkled and spongy. It is time to plant (inside at least) and let the yonge sonne warm the soil and create the miracle of photosynthesis in our brothers and sisters from that Other Kingdom of life. 

On Easter, I put tulips on the dining room table and buy an Easter lily wrapped in pastel foil for the library. Our son and heir is grown, but still I make him a basket and fill it with chocolate eggs and bunnies and a Pez dispenser that looks like a chick sitting on a nest. I can't help but like Easter ... the eggs, the tulips, the bunnies and chicks and the sweet pastels are all emblematic of fertility, new life, and an awakening Earth.

I was awakened this morning by something I thought was a smoke alarm or a CO alarm, but it turned out to be a smal fowle maken melodye (a blue jay in this case), uttering a raucous  mating call outside my bedroom window. That’s reason enough to celebrate – the cottage wasn’t burning down after all or killing us gently with carbon monoxide – and I hope the blue jay found success in his endeavor. (Just remember, buddy, sex selection belongs to the girl. Bring her something shiny – that’ll do it. Trust me.)

At this time of year, even the eternal sea itself takes on a different scent – probably because of the profusion of life that blooms near its surface – and you can just tell, even though it’s 45 degrees and you are wearing your warm barn coat and gloves, that summer will soon be here. Any day now.

On the other end of life, my friend Don Lipfert finally took off for his next great adventure. He’d been mentally ready for years, but his 90-year-old body had raged against the dying of the light. This week, however, mind and body were in sync at last, and Don passed away peacefully on Wednesday. Don portrayed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow somewhat professionally, and we got to know each other when I was working for the Woolwich Historical Society and he and his wife, Joan, were stellar volunteers. They lived off the grid – no easy task in one’s later years – and did it well. No matter how prepared one is for the end as a survivor – something I know about first-hand from both of my parents’ deaths – it is still a shock when death, however merciful, finally comes. My heart and thoughts are with Joan and Don’s children at this difficult time.

But from death comes life. It is the key message of the Easter season, both in the religious sense and in the literal sense. The molecules that make up our bodies, and the forsythia shrub, the plankton hovering near the surf in the ocean, and the colored eggs in the Easter basket, are virtually immortal. As one form passes away, the molecules rearrange themselves and become something else – nourishment for a plant, which in turn becomes nourishment for an animal. Over and over and round and round, forever and ever, amen.

May you find joy in new life this season.

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