30 March 2011

Words, Words, Words

Every week I give my students SAT prep vocabulary words for homework.  Lately, I’ve been assigning words like “halcyon,” “bucolic,” and “nostalgia.”  Hmmm.  Is my subconscious trying to tell me something?  Am I feeling the sentimental pull of days gone by?  A wistful yearning for the rural backdrop of my upbringing? Is it time to pay a visit to that place I once called home? 

Perhaps it’s because spring seemed to take SO long to push her way up through the earth this year, that I’ve been reminiscing about childhood seasons and the traditions I’ve left behind. And while it has never topped my list of holiday favorites, I do have many fond memories of springs and Easters past.  Perhaps, in the retrospective conjuring of those carefree days, I have also stirred some still and quiet longing for the way things used to be.

My trip down Easter’s “memory lane” alights on these vignettes:

--Dyeing eggs with my sister (who, by the way, cannot STAND the smell of vinegar—always fun to taunt her with it). Each of us would gently, oh so carefully, scrawl our names on an egg with the magical wax crayon and watch with delight as it appeared through the colored dye.  Our own egg was special, and absolutely off limits to each other during the egg hunt on Easter Sunday.

--The year the back yard was turned into an eggshell mosaic.  Our beloved dog Duke evidently decided that hardboiled eggs were quite delicious and that some nice person must have left the pretty orbs outside as a holiday treat for him. Brightly colored egg shell pieces were everywhere.  I thought my mother was going to cry, but we salvaged the day and made the most of it anyway.  I collected all the lovely egg shells in a glass mason jar and amused myself with my homemade kaleidoscope for the rest of the day.

--The year it snowed—on Easter.  What was the Bunny to do? (I should note that we were living in Montana at the time and snow in March or April is not altogether unheard of).  My resilient parents decided to hide our eggs inside the house that year and kept their fingers tightly crossed that we would find them all.  Can you imagine if we hadn’t!?

--Our Easter Bunny House baskets. Shaped like an Easter cottage, with a removable roof for viewing, these baskets/houses were the best of traditions.  Different rooms, with different bunny scenarios, each held different candies (along with the plastic grass that would be stuck inside the vacuum cleaner and found in random places for months after).  When the morning’s festivities concluded, the decorated eggs found and the marshmallow peeps all eaten, my sister and I would continue to entertain ourselves for hours—with nothing but our own imaginations and the brightly colored cottages that appeared for just one day every spring.

I was blessed with an amazing childhood.  Not a moment of it--no scraped knee or science project, no meatloaf dinner or Monday night dish duty--would I trade.  I had parents who loved me and disciplined me, a comical and spunky little sister for a sidekick, and an abundance of happy days, holidays included.

Which gets me thinking:  Maybe the really important vocabulary words aren’t ones that can be found in an SAT prep guide or the footnotes of a textbook.  And while words like “pastoral” and “magnanimous” and “lucrative” are certainly all good to know, maybe, when you come right down to it, the words that matter most in life are the ones like family, tradition, and love.


Today's Gratitude List:
  • the smell of newly cut grass
  • weather nice enough for margaritas
  • flip-flops and hoodies
  • singing in the shower


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