No Easter is quite like any other. It flits about, this feast, like the birds between the trees and the ground, gathering twigs, building new partnerships. Some years it’s sun-soaked in a predictable, comfortable sort of way: one of a succession of days in the garden, sowing and hoeing and mowing the lawn. Others, like this year, it is as unpredictable as spring can be, moving from showers to bright skies and back within the space of an hour. And sometimes, rarely, like the time we stayed in Appleby, there is an unexpected fall of snow and we spend the morning sledding and building soggy snowmen which melt before the day is out.
It feels right, that Easter weather is so unknown. After all, nobody knew what was happening that first Easter. Christmas is different: people knew, even the first time, what was going on. A fact which is reflected in the depth of our traditions: in plum puddings and roast goose, in presents under the tree and a visit from Father Christmas. We know how to celebrate a birth.
That first Easter, though, very little was known. The killing of God took place, and yet the world didn’t end. For three days there was mourning. And then nothing but an empty tomb, an absence of a body, a mystery. Nobody knew what was happening, until, somehow, they did.
The only fixed things in our Easter celebration are a trip to church and a chocolate egg for each of the children – and even the eggs are brought home by John. Unlike the run up to Christmas, Easter is a time when there is very little for me to do in the way of fulfilling the children’s expectations. Which is a very good thing, given all the other tasks I am enjoying just now: all the sowing and planting, weeding and planning. There’s the spring cleaning to come, too, the washing of windows and curtains. The sweep to book, once the last fire has gone out. Outgrown clothes to send to the jumble sale.
All of which has the lovely effect of making everything we do an added bonus. This year the children blew eggs, and painted them with watercolours. I bought some twisted willow inside, pruned last autumn and left over from the Christmas wreaths, and they hung the eggs from its branches. Twiggy and bare, full of unexpected loops and tangles, they have space for all sorts to dangle in their embrace. Ilse had to be shown how to blow the eggs, which made me wonder how long it’s been since we’ve done this. It’s not as though we’ve done nothing in the meantime: sometimes we boil eggs and draw on them with pencils, making monochrome designs. Other times we might slice their tops off, stuff their insides with cotton wool and wait for a full head of cress to grow above their funny faces. One year a neighbour, who was watering the plants while we went away, left a treasure trail of tiny foil-wrapped eggs around the house, chocolatey and precious.
I found the time to make some hot cross buns while the children were busy with their eggs, and we had them as an easy Easter breakfast. In the evening Mother cooked for us all, making the sort of feast that the children save room for, guessing there will be more than one pudding. There was. It was a happy day, this year, relaxed and joyous, full of laughter and silliness.
There have been other Easters which have not been so glad: as I say, it’s a moveable feast. Changeable as the season it falls in, with rain and sleet as well as sunshine in the forecast. Each one unique, each one met afresh, but always full of love. While all else may change, that part never does. Happy Easter.