Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter and Earthscouts

Despite the fact that C has a kazillion relatives and pseudo-relatives in the area, and that we have to celebrate Christmas five times, we usually find ourselves somewhat adrift on Thanksgiving and Easter. The last couple of years, we've invited friends and/or C's mother and made a feast of what I for some reason think of as quintessential Easter (or springtime) fare--spanikopita and rosemary potatoes with lemon bars for dessert (because C doesn't care for lemon meringue pie--silly boy). But we had our spring feast around the equinox (although it was kale-and-Swiss-chard-akopita, with strawberry shortcake for dessert), and I was truly not in the mood to cook or entertain. C, I think, would be perfectly happy if holidays just slid by like every other day of the week/year, but I want some sense of tradition, celebration and the changing of the seasons instilled in my children's lives...although not necessarily any of the formalized, rigid and religious traditions that I grew up with (my grandmother always served holiday meals at exactly 2 p.m., with all of the china and silver in service to the platters of food that all of the women of the family had slaved--and stressed--over).

We started last weekend with decorating some wooden eggs--I think the idea came from Angry Chicken last year--with watercolor paint. It was super fascinating to watch the intense concentration that each boy put into his eggs, and the different styles of painting. E put a little bit of several colors near the top of his eggs; M painted one all green, put a face on one, tried to follow the wood grain of another and put stripes on a fourth; Z painted his mostly black (like old Irontail), very thoroughly (although one he did paint with very careful black stripes), and quickly. When he was done, he noticed E's had some blank spots on them and offered to "finish" his for him! We decorated our Nature Corner and the "mantle" (er, unfinished top row of bricks behind the wood stove) with them.

Then this past Saturday evening, after a cold but fun hike and lunch out with friends, I finally got around to preparing egg dyes by 7 p.m. (my friend had given me a back issue of Brain, Child that I hadn't already read and that kept me occupied all afternoon while E and Z napped--thanks to our long damp hike--and M played Lego's). We used natural dyes this year--beets, purple cabbage and turmeric. I had done this once a long time ago, but I boiled the eggs with the dyestuffs and they came out quite vivid, but this time just boiled the beets and cabbage for a while in water and put them in mugs with vinegar, so that the kids could actually be involved in the dying. The turmeric I just put straight in water with vinegar. The colors weren't quite as deep, but luckily our farm had pale green Araucana eggs, so they took the dyes a little better than the brown ones do. The turmeric worked best (later I remembered using paprika in the past, and may try that again next time). I used up the last of the moldering beets out of the bottom of my crisper drawer, and one small head of cabbage--I felt a little guilty throwing them in the compost afterward, but no one in my house likes beets, and the boiled cabbage made the whole house smell like an Iron Curtain tenement...not appetizing
Z wanted to just keep dying and re-dying his eggs over and over. I guess I should have made more than a dozen, but hard boiled eggs aren't a huge hit with my kids, so it would be a shame to have all those eggs and nothing to do with them (or eat egg salad until I became a licensed source for hydrogen sulfide emissions).

Easter morning the boys went down and gathered eggs filled with jelly beans and yogurt-covered raisins and Bunny Grahams that the Easter bunny hid around the house, while C and I tried to get a few extra minutes of sleep. We had hot cross buns for breakfast, along with Easter eggs and a pineapple that I just got at the co-op Monday, but which was already turning to alcohol (no one else seemed to mind).

The Candy Rabbit (that's what Z used to call him) also left these cute little bunnies that someone needle-felted, which would be her new obsession if it did not use the same fine-motor movements as keyboarding and mousing, causing her two weeks of shoulder pain ever since. Z showed me his and said "Peter a good knitter." Of course he was referring to Peter Cottontail that annoying claymation (or whatever) movie from our childhood...whom they prefer to visualize as their Easter Bunny, rather than the little cottontail rabbit from The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, which, if you have not read yet, get thee to a library! It is the most amazingly feminist, populist, mama-empowering book.

Also they got some books I've been lusting over (in my Waldorf-wanna-be mode) for some time. The (Elsa Beskow) stories are kind of silly, but I love the illustrations, and Z and E love anything with a troll (or a grumpy old gnome).

We headed to Dodge Point in Newcastle, my favorite hiking area around here, and hiked the big loop, for the first time since the twins were born, unhindered by double stroller and little legs. We played on all of the beaches (two gravel, one sand and one brick) until their mother complained of being cold from the wind. We took EarthScouts on the road with us. Our mission this week was to listen carefully to the sounds of nature (still working from the I Love Dirt book--lesson #4), but this was hard to do for many reasons--hard to sit still and listen while you're hiking, or throwing rocks in the river, or freezing because it's so windy. Also, I noticed, all four of them (C included) seem to need to have a constant stream of noise emanating from their mouths--either chatter, singing, humming, whistling or nonsense sounds. It's enough to drive a wooden mom crazy.

We did hear some stuff, though, which we recorded later at the Newcastle Publick House, where we had our Easter dinner--wind, waves, dripping water, wood frogs (duck-like chuckle), a bird that said "cheer, cheer," but was not a robin or a cardinal--C and I are on a mission to figure out what it is. E and Z fell asleep after we got in the car at 4:30, slept right through the afternoon, let me put on their jammies, went back to sleep and slept until 5:45 Monday morning. I think they need more 3-mile hikes!


  1. Congrats to all on the big hike. This is definitely a milestone to celebrate. Also, love those felted bunnies that 'someone' made. Amazingly cute.

  2. And it was a lovely Easter surprise to see you all at the Publick House. I'm more ready every night for our evening out.

  3. Your needle felted bunnies are quite impressive!

  4. Uncle E talked all the way on our three and a half mile hike around String Lake in the Tetons. Finally he was mostly saying how tired he was. I tried telling him if he stopped talking he would have more energy for walking, but I don't think it worked. He was six or seven then.


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