Celebrate this day.
Easter blessings rise and shine.
We can do the same.
Morning rain on another chilly holiday was dampening my spirits some.
I awoke thinking how my family’s whittled down to just a precious few after the fairly recent deaths of my husband and mother.
So I marched myself over to the desk and self-prescribed a heavy dose of nature and one brisk walk.
Before leaving the house, I grabbed some jelly beans for fuel and packed away the family pictures and memories on my lap for another sunnier day.
I drove to a nearby area of hills and marsh land that I hadn’t explored before. As I started to walk I was struck by the vista right before me.
There stood a tree.
Or at least part of it.
Once tall and proud.
Now it was brittle.
I walked up the hill for a closer look.
The tree was dead.
I took the lens cap off the camera and took a few shots anyway.
But I wasn’t sure why.
The image haunted me.
Turning, I returned to the path below to continue my walk until the northerly winds picked up and the rain increased.
The walk wasn’t helping my mood much anyway.
And the sweet signs of spring my camera had been searching for remained hidden.
Maybe under the fresh snow received earlier in the week.
Returning back to my car, I noticed my lens cap for the camera was missing.
It’s probably up on the hill, I thought.
Over by that old dead tree.
I retraced my steps and finally found my lens cap.
But something had changed.
Or maybe it was me.
I noticed the brittle branches of the dead tree were extended. And they were reaching out to those just beyond.
Perhaps the seedlings of the dead tree once provided life to the smaller and younger ones nearby.
Death and resurrection in nature.
What a sacred gift.
Climbing back down the hill again to leave, I saw a red wing black bird fluttering.
And then a happy robin hopping.
They were my first sightings of the season.
And both birds were fully in song.
I soon was as well, once I turned on the car radio.
Handel’s “Messiah” was in concert on the public radio station.
How could I not join in with the choir?
While nibbling on the crust of a homemade cheese sandwich, I keep driving in drizzle until reaching the gravel road of the farm.
I’m on a lunch break from my job at a school and there’s no better place for me to relax and dine than in the country.
Eyeing the familiar jersey cows on the green rolling hills, I smile. The farm isn’t mine so I’ll find no chores for me to do this day.
I often walk these fields for miles, even in the rain, always leaving with a sunnier disposition.
Though today, I head straight to the barn.
Or maybe I should call it a maternity ward.
I missed the birth of the first nine piglets earlier this morning, but I’m just in time for the birth of the tenth.
I kneel with respect and amazement on beds of hay as I whisper sweet nothings into the sweet sow’s ear.
Wearily she keeps on working afterwards, feeding her tribe.
Chilled, I eventually rise to seek warmth from heat lamps comforting the baby lambs nearby. I sit down again and feel my blood pressure sink to the cement floor as I finish my cheese sandwich.
For a moment, I close my eyes.
I reflect on my lunches before retiring from a corporate job in the city six months ago.
Back then I’d walk a maze of skyways over honking, busy streets at noon. I’d then quickly grab Mexican fast food for fuel to take back to my desk so I could keep on working.
Yes, my life is quite different now.
I’ve discovered the miracle of birth is much more appealing than a bulging burrito anyday.
I open my eyes and glance down at my watch.
It’s time to leave.
Briefly I check in with the chirping baby chicks on my way out.
And then I return to Mama Pig and the piglets to wish them well.
Pushing open the heavy barn door after, I glance at the greenhouse to my left where vegetable seedlings have optimistically been planted.
I find myself feeling optimistic as well.
Quickly, I revise in my mind the tired Easter menu I was planning from a glazed ham to a fresh vegetarian quiche.
As I drive off, the sun suddenly makes a shining appearance above the hills.
And I catch myself humming, ‘oh, what a beautiful morning’ at the sight.
How can I not?
Grandma Greta was jumping like a bunny when I told her it was time to go to church.
Every Easter morning one of the dogs joins me for a community sunrise service over at the beach in town.
I zipped Greta up inside my down jacket and we hustled over to the already raging bonfire.
“You’re the 100th canine parishioner,” Greta was told as she popped her head out long enough to greet the ushers who gave her a dog biscuit and me a program.
“And you’re also the smallest!”
Greta showed that toothy grin.
Luckily, they didn’t remind her she was by far the oldest.
Greta and I scanned the crowd of hoodie clad teens, loving labs and boisterous border collies. We both then found a spot and settled in.
Greta and I especially loved the guitar music and the sweet young singers.
And Greta’s ears grew wide as she listened to the short sermon on gratitude.
I do know she was mighty thankful for that dog biscuit as we’d rushed out the door without breakfast.
But soon it was time for communion.
And that was definitely a first for Greta.
Due to the amorous and glamorous Doberman behind us, I thought it best if I continued to keep Greta zipped up while we patiently waited our turn in line.
As we approached the minister, Greta showed her head, and her grace by sharing a piece of bread with me and politely passing on the red wine.
“Good girl,” I whispered.
After the service, Greta chased after a crazy collie on the sand for a while.
Then she sat down.
I caught her looking up at the sky as the brillant sun rose overhead.
Greta appeared grateful to experience another beautiful sunrise in her 16th year of life.
Maybe she really was listening to that sermon after all.
I grab my tired winter jacket, gloves and boots.
And also a wool cap, to serve as an Easter bonnet.
Maddie, the corgi and I then jump into the car and make our way into town in a thick fog.
We head down to the beach, past the remaining patches of dirty snow where the annual sunrise Easter service is beginning near the docks.
Maddie’s immediately welcomed with a thick dog biscuit.
Me, a cup of steaming coffee.
With gentle guitar music in the background, Maddie and I watch the sun break the fog
leaving a palette of pastel blues and yellows behind.
Half of the lake in front of us is still full of ice, two weeks past its usual ice out date.
Where the ice has surrendered to crystal blue clear water, honking geese begin to compete with the choir.
Maddie and I stand on a small hill overlooking the labs, shih tzus and shepherds seated with their owners before finally stepping down for communion.
Afterwards, as we return back to out chosen spot in the sun, a whistling train makes a visit on the tracks directly behind us as the benediction begins.
I look over my shoulder to watch the slow moving wheels spin on the old Burlington and Northern rail cars.
Closing my eyes briefly, I envision family members long gone riding in that train as I scratch behind Maddie’s soft ears.
Maybe they’re stopping by to wish us Happy Easter and share the beautiful morning, I whisper to her.
Maddie looks up at me as if in agreement, and licks my hand.
In return, I give her a jelly bean from my pocket.
We both smile.