Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018

Empty Nest: Easter Rabbit

By Curt Swarm

Growing up in the ‘50s, we didn’t have Easter-egg stampedes in City Park (in our day called “the town square.”)  The Easter Rabbit made his personal appearance at our house, similar to Santa Claus on Christmas morning.  I’m assuming here that the Easter Rabbit was a he.  To my sister, the Easter Rabbit may have been a she.  
My mother was, of course, the organizer and creative director of this special event, as she was for Christmas and the tooth fairy’s arrival.  We set out a snack for the Easter Rabbit (a carrot and some milk), along with a note—not specifying certain presents, but wishing the Easter Rabbit a happy hopping.  
On Easter morning we scrambled out of bed early, like on Christmas, to see what the Easter Rabbit had left.  The first thing noticed would be the snack.  There would be teeth marks in the carrot, half the milk gone, and a return note.  “Thank you for the food.  Jesus died for you.”  The hand writing looked a lot like my mother’s.  I had trouble associating the death of Jesus to Easter eggs.  I also envisioned the Easter Rabbit laying the eggs, like a chicken.  
We found two large chocolate rabbits, one for my sister, and one for me.  They were filled with that white, hard filling.  The first couple of bites tasted good, but a tummy ache was soon to follow.  There were also hard-boiled eggs (that we had colored ourselves) in nests of shredded paper sacks, new socks and underwear, and even a little money.  What a treat!  We had to hurry with our exploration, because Sunrise Service was soon to follow, where we shivered and shook trying to see a sunrise behind a leaden sky.  
As a teenager, the Easter-egg hunt had advanced.  I was the youngest of eight children, so my parents had grandchildren almost as old as me.  All of the grandchildren, and there was a pack of them, were invited to our house for a super-humongous Easter Egg hunt.  We lived in a stately old farm house outside of Monroe, Iowa, called Maple Hill.  Maple Hill is sort of famous now, as being haunted, and has even been relocated and designated as a historical sight.  But then, it was just Maple Hill, with rolling green lawns and mammoth maple trees.
All of the grandkids were rounded up by a couple of the adults, and hauled off for a joy ride, while the rest of the adults stayed back to hide eggs.  All of this was orchestrated, once again, by the creative director and grand family matriarch, my mother.  
When the kids returned, it was a stampede, with grandkids racing over the green lawns, now decorated with colorful nests of even more colorful Easter Eggs.  The smaller grandkids were carried from spot to spot by hovering mothers or fathers, who were my sisters or brothers, or inlaws.
My mother stood patiently under a big old maple tree at the corner of the house.  She seemed to be observing all the activity.  But closer examination disclosed that she was averting her eyes up into the tree.  She kept clearing her throat.  The oldest grandchild, who was my nephew, finally got the hint.  There was a ladder propped against the tree.  Following grandma’s eyes, he looked up to spy a bird’s nest in the tree.  He scaled the ladder.  There in the bird’s nest was, yep, you guessed it, an Easter egg!  The grand prize of the day!
Today’s massive, organized Easter Egg free-for-alls, in city parks, where volunteers actually throw out treats in front of impatiently waiting throngs, leave nothing to the imagination.  What’s needed is a grand family matriarch, a creative director who loves her family so dearly that she will stay up all night coloring Easter eggs.  
I love you, Mom.
Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.  Curt also reads his columns at www.lostlakeradio.com.