January 1, 1970April Surprise
Waiting for Easter sometimes parallels the wait for warmth. What will it be? We never know. Last year, snowstorms came, woven in with warm days, some in the 80s. Our family Easter plan was for my cousins to gather here at the farm for an Easter feast that included lamb and egg braid. My cousin Mac and his wife Marcia had been living in Nepal for the past 8 years and this was their first Easter at home in all that time, so this year seemed particularly festive. Mac grew up on the North Shore of Boston and a couple of weeks before our gathering he called to ask if I had the photo of the Snow Bunny. I hadn’t thought of that picture in years but it was a family favorite, an enormous rabbit made of the snow that had fallen that Easter morning in 1955. The Bunny was as big as a grown man, ears straight up like fresh corn, haunches strong: a masterpiece. They had truly made the most of that April surprise.
At one time, I recall that my grandmother kept that photograph in a frame on a table in her living room. I paged through the albums, looking for the old favorite, going deeper and deeper into the trough of memory as I went. My cousins’ mother, my Aunt Peg, had died the month before and so each photo I came across of her demanded particular study. She had great zest for life and her wonderful laugh could almost be heard, coming from the images stuck to the pages. At last I found what I was looking for. In fact, there were several photos of the big bunny. In one, my cousins, in their snowsuits and galoshes, are posing proudly in front. In another, my uncle, in tie and jacket, is putting the finishing touches on those wonderful ears. And in yet another, my cousin Susan is propping a hockey stick against his perfectly formed paws. The sun is full and in the background, Manchester Harbor is visible, a single lobster boat the only thing afloat. I pulled the best one from the album and put it into an old frame.
All week I found myself wishing a snowstorm would come on Easter, so that we might create a 21st century version of the Snow Bunny. But the day dawned, bearing warm sunshine. There was still a bit of snow at the edges of the fields and here and there where the plow had piled it high through the long winter. In the morning, with the smells of the lamb roasting in the oven, I opened the windows and let the breezes in.
I enjoy setting the Easter table, perhaps more than for any other time of year. I keep a collection of decorated eggs, some I made myself and some I bought on a side street in Prague many years ago. I also have a collection of little bunnies, which emerge from the drawer and decorate the table. I like the colors of Easter, too, yellow and purple and bright greens and I always try to include them in the setting. Sometimes, I have cultivated a small pot of green grass for the center of the table. We are so hungry for it. Our gathering was to number 15 and so the chairs at the table were close and cozy. I took time to place the eggs and the bunnies around the table and various other places in the room. When I was done, I put the framed photo of the Snow Bunny in the center. As we gathered, everyone studied it and recalled that day as if it were yesterday.
After dinner, we went out and sat on the screen porch, enjoying the spring warmth. No Snow Bunny this year. Thank goodness.