Pushing aside my bowl of porridge, I picked up the paper and began to read out loud to my partner, equal parts amused and saddened at the throw away last paragraph in the Midland Weekly:
“You’ve got to listen to this- just another write up on local events, was a success, blah blah, until the final paragraph: Following the success of this year’s Easter Egg Hunt, we will of course continue the tradition in 2016. However, due to OH&S regulations and rising insurance premiums, the hunt will no longer be held at the Oak Forest, but instead on the spacious grounds of the football oval, with witches hats guiding the children’s paths, single file, to the Easter bunny holding a basket of eggs. These steps will ensure no trips, falls or lost children, and bearing in mind the rising incidence of childhood obesity, we will replace the chocolate eggs with protein and omega 3 rich hard boiled eggs, to be dyed by our lovely volunteers from the Country Women’s Association. See you next year for another fun Easter Egg Hunt! Can you believe that?”
“Eh, hold on, I’m just trying to finish writing this email…” He hadn’t been listening.
We’ve lived here, in our country home, for close to a year now. When I saw signs for the Oak Forest Easter Egg Hunt, I was so excited by what sounded like the stuff of magical childhood experiences. My baby is only 10.5 months old, so clearly this year he wasn’t going to take part, but when the organisers asked for volunteers, I didn’t hesitate to put my hand up. One of the drivers for our move to this part of the world was the great sense of community- a vibrant, inclusive, progressive, creative place to be. It requires participation to create such a community, so I was going to contribute by helping out at the hunt, and no, it didn’t involve hiding the Easter eggs in my belly!
On the day of the hunt, we rugged up- it was a crisp autumn morning on Easter Sunday. Getting out of the house felt like going from a sauna to a dip in an icy lake as I liked to imagine they do in Sweden all the time. So, beanie on, and winter boots getting their first outing for the year, I fronted up to help. Arriving late, I was thrown in the deep end at the welcome desk: checking off names, selling tickets, and handing out wristbands. It took a while to work out that there were different colour bands for a reason- each representing a time slot and age group to keep it running smoothly and make the hunt fair. I’ll have added to the excitement by mixing things up a bit, I thought, when I realised my mistake.
The children filing through with their parents looked so excited, some arriving with home made or store bought baskets, others making a bee line to the craft table to make their own, ready to hold their bounty. While putting bands on tiny wrists, I daydreamed about sharing the fun of the day with my boy the following year. What an enchanting setting it was, amongst the majestic oak trees with their seasonal change to beautiful golden shades. The eggs were buried beneath fallen leaves, with children either strategically making a search, some with branches in hand, or the more free approach of the younger ones kicking up layers of leaves and discovering the bright metallic shelled goodies awaiting them.
So, next year, my boy won’t experience all that because of the ridiculous adherence to nanny state regulations. I am safety conscious and go to great lengths to ensure my boy’s play area is safe and free of hazards, stopping just short of providing him with a permanent helmet for all the bumps on the head he sustains as he begins to understand balance, gravity and the mechanics of positioning one foot in front of the other to walk. Yes, on the day, there was the occasional thud of acorns falling from the trees overhead, and excited children ran about without regard to the flow of traffic, even more-excited after they’d eaten some of their found treasures. It saddens me that my boy won’t get to experience the magic, perhaps imagining fairies and other mythical creatures amongst him and the others while they search for buried chocolate treasure. We’ll just have to create our very own hunt here and throw caution to the wind- the great outdoors and chocolate- we like living on the edge here.
“What’s that you said about witches and hard boiled eggs?” he replied, having finally pried himself away from the blinking screen.
Prompt from Writing 101 Day 15. Today’s Prompt: Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force. How does that make you feel? Today’s twist: While writing this post, focus again on your own voice. Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and rhythm. Read each sentence aloud multiple times, making edits as you read through. Before you hit “Publish,” read your entire piece out loud to ensure it sounds like you.