Agriculture & Livestock: Memorable Easters, indeed
A late Easter means a late spring.
That’s a common saying among Moffat County folks.
Easter can’t be any later this year, but have we experienced a late spring?
To answer that question, we’d need to ponder the definition of a “Moffat County spring.”
One thing is for sure — it seems to have snowed for a long time.
As I watched the blowing snow on a recent April day, I remembered Easters past when my sisters and I were children growing up on our Morapos Creek ranch. (Our brother was not yet born.)
Mom and Dad probably predicted what the weather would be like on Easter, based on the date. What we girls saw as Easter approached was snow covering the yard where we hoped to hunt eggs.
Before Easter, we listened to the “Peter Cottontail” song on the radio. We pored over books and magazines (no television then) with brightly colored Easter pictures.
In the pictures, children dressed in their Easter best hunted eggs that were hidden in emerald-green grass that appeared to be about six inches tall.
Bunnies, chicks and baby ducks peeked out from flowerbeds of blooming daffodils and tulips.
That may have been the scene in some parts of the country. Even Craig, at a lower elevation, may have been at least partially barred off by Easter, but not so at our house.
Depending on the year, there might have been some bare spots around the ranch where tiny salt and pepper plants peeked through the ground — no blooming daffodils and tulips for some time to come.
So, we girls listened to the weather forecasts and kept our fingers crossed for warm temperatures.
But, no matter what the weather happened to be, we celebrated Easter anyway.
Parents boiled eggs and sent them to our country school where we pupils colored them.
If the weather permitted, we had a big Easter egg hunt on the school grounds, with a prize for the student who found the most eggs.
One year, the prize was a basket of candy eggs.
I’m not sure of the candy ingredients, possibly pure sugar, but the inside of each egg was pure white and the outside a bright color.
The eggs were pretty to look at but inedible. And once the candy eggs hardened, you could have used them as rocks.
Right before Easter, Mom saved white eggs and used the brown eggs in cooking. (The brown eggs didn’t color as well.) When Easter eve rolled around, we had about seven dozen eggs to color.
Mom boiled them in big pots, and we prepared the dyes.
Sometimes the dye kit came from the store and we watched the tablets fizz in the water and vinegar. Other times, we used food coloring to make dyes.
Some neighborhood families made dyes from boiling onion skins and vegetables such as red beets.
Dad usually came in from chores about the time we were finishing up with the eggs, and he dipped an egg from one color to the other, making a magpie egg.
Then, after the eggs dried, we used wax crayons to write family names on the eggs and cut pictures of bunnies, ducks, chicks, flowers, and other pictures on a sheet that came with the dye kit.
These were transferred to the eggs by a damp cloth. Finally, the eggs were ready for the Easter bunny.
If Easter morning was stormy, or if there was too much snow to find eggs
outdoors, we likely woke up to find eggs in our shoes. That was the hint that the eggs were hidden in the house. One year I found my Easter basket in the flour bin.
The barn was another good hiding place for eggs during bad weather. As Dad milked the cow, we girls hunted the barn loft for eggs. Sometimes our baskets were hung high up so we had to climb to retrieve them.
But, during those rare years that the yard was bare, we hunted eggs in the yard and in a thicket of chokecherry, serviceberry and oak trees that surrounded the yard.
Big rocks in between the trees were likely hiding places for Easter baskets.
Oh, those Easter baskets. Covered in cellophane and tied with brightly colored bows, the baskets were filled with different kinds of candies, chocolate bunnies, coloring books, crayons, comic books, fuzzy toy chicks and other things.
At first, we didn’t open the baskets. They were just too pretty. But, we gradually removed the bows and cellophane, took each item out of the basket, and then put everything back.
In those days, we didn’t have much candy, so we made it last a long time.
And so, no matter whether Moffat County Easters were early or late, no matter whether there was snow or bare ground, the childhood Easters on Morapos Creek were memorable, indeed.