Easter on a Pioneer Farm: A Childhood Memory
Written by Hulda Franklyn
Edited by Reg Quist
Should the good fairy appear and grant me just one wish, I’d ask her to let me live again through one childhood Easter on the old homestead.
Not that Easter Sundays were that much different from our other happy Sundays. On normal Sundays, Mama read to us the continued story in the Family Herald, and when we were younger, the letters in the Maple Leaf Club. No, Easter Sunday wasn’t so outstanding, yet it was different. Different in several ways.
Easter was a milestone – the milestone in nature that filled our hearts with hope, for wasn’t winter, with its snow and cold and darkness on its way out?
Ah, the spring!
I could feel it coming – a sort of vibrant joy wafted in by the warm winds that melted the snow into miniature cracks and invited the pussy willows to peep out of their tiny, brown houses. And sometimes Papa would call us to the door to hear the ‘caw, caw’ of the first crow or the song of an early robin.
We had no colored candy eggs, left by the Easter bunny in downy baskets. But we had eggs – real eggs – and that was a treat for us. For our hens, shut inside cold, dark chicken houses, didn’t lay during the winter months.
Sometimes, when good care and warmer, sunny days in February had encouraged the more aspiring hens into early laying and setting, we would have a dozen or more live, fluffy chicks at Easter.
I remember one Easter when warmer weather had come early. A grey hen came off the nest with a large family of yellow chicks. Mamma made a coop for them out of an old rain barrel and settled them comfortably at the back of the house.
We had company that Easter. We were all seated at the table enjoying our dinner when a sudden burst of wind sent the rain barrel and its occupants rolling down the hill towards the lake. Mamma screamed and headed for the door as the barrel passed the kitchen window. We all jumped up and joined in the chase.
Chicks were scattered here and there as the barrel rolled along. The poor hen was tethered to the barrel with a strip of strong cotton twine tied around her leg. She flopped and squawked, following her rolling home as it bumped along.
With plenty of the excitement that youngsters love, barrel, hen and chicks were all retrieved and brought back to the house. The chicks were warmed up on the open oven door while the hen was reinstated in the barrel which was now well pegged down
Easter, the harbinger of spring, did things to Mamma.
Her ‘green thumb’ really began to itch. With the weekly mail read and her other work done, she’d reach to the ledge above the steep stairway and bring down the tea caddy which held, under a hinged lid, the mystery of the new growth to come.
Carefully, she dusted the tin lid and opened it. At the very top, packed in a small box, were the flower seeds. There weren’t many of them, for Mamma’s poultry industry, scattered over the yard in small coops, confined her flowers to two window boxes.
Next came the vegetable seeds, not in the beautiful packages we see today, but just plain yellow envelopes.
Oh, the excitement when we kids thought of making our own little gardens.
Yes, when Easter Sunday arrived, we knew that spring was on the way, a time of revived life. A time when hope reigned supreme in the pioneer’s hearts.
Easter, the time of greater hope – a hope that was born with the resurrected Christ.