Lately I've been talking to friends about eastering? What's that? they ask. I'm surprised at their ignorance of one of the most enjoyable rites of spring.
All the kids in my home town went eastering. Some scattered on the foothills below Ben Lomond, making sure part of the hike was to Frog Rock.
Our family climbed the mountain above our house to the bridge over the canal. What did we do? We rolled our colored eggs, then peeled the shells off and ate them with a little dirt, some leftover shell, and salt we'd brought wrapped in wax paper. Sitting on the bridge, looking out over all of North Ogden and the towns about them, laughing and visiting, we passed the morning in the fresh air. That's eastering.
It wasn't all fun the year I decided to go with a few neighborhood kids to a grassy pasture on the road leading up to our home. One of the boys loved to tease and didn't know when to quit.
As we climbed through a barbed wire fence the boy spied a water snake, grabbed its tail and proceeded to threaten us girls with it. I'm sure he loved my scream and the fact that I lit out for home. I ran at top speed expecting him to throw the dumb snake at me.
Not yet. I puffed and huffed up the hill to my home, rushed in the door and hid under the bed. No snake.
However, I stayed under the bed for what seemed like hours before I was sure he hadn't followed me. After that I went eastering with my family.
Of course, eastering was only part of the fun of Easter. Today, while shopping for groceries I looked for the egg coloring kits I remember. My siblings and I dissolved the color tablets in cups, dutifully added a little vinegar to set the color, and then fought over who got to dye their eggs in what color when we wanted the same one. We used the wax pencils to write our names on our eggs, cut out the transfer patterns, dampened them and held them to our eggs to transfer the design.
We dipped eggs half and half in different colors. What fun!
The kits are much the same now, but in addition to the original contents their are egg stands, drying trays and stickers. Bet I could still write my name on my egg fancier than anyone else.
A few years ago I taught a pioneer skills class to some college students where we made soap, mustard plasters, pressed flower pictures and colored eggs the pioneer way. To prepare for the latter class I cleaned out the grocer's onion skins. No cost.
Then I showed the kids how to simmer the skins in water until a brown brew resulted. Taking our boiled eggs, we wrapped carrot tops around them and tied them with twine, and carefully placed in the onion skin dye for a few minutes. The eggs came out a beautiful golden brown with darker lacey patterns under the carrot tops.
After I became a mother, Easter wasn't as much fun. Parents had to balance the amount of money we spent on candy, cellophane grass, new baskets, and even little toys.
I remember one Easter being concerned about how much sugar our little boys were getting, so we put weiners in their baskets. (They were pretty young and we got away with it since a few jellybeans nestled around the weiners.)
The availability of much more expensive baskets with ribbons, gew jars (trinkets) and candies today is comparable to Christmas hype.
I think a few weiners and jelly beans might do just as well. And a few eastering hikes could offset the candy we do buy.
But if you go, watch out for mean boys and snakes.