Opinion: Easter is about eggs and redemptionThe Easter egg hunt on the lawn of the governor’s residence in Pierre is a mad scramble by a horde of prize-seeking youngsters, and if you blink, most years you miss it. Even so, it’s more controlled than it was when we first moved to the Capital City. A couple of the first hunts we watched were cage fights, minus the cage.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
The Easter egg hunt on the lawn of the governor’s residence in Pierre is a mad scramble by a horde of prize-seeking youngsters, and if you blink, most years you miss it.
Even so, it’s more controlled than it was when we first moved to the Capital City. A couple of the first hunts we watched were cage fights, minus the cage.
We’ve lived across from the governor’s place for nearly 40 years. We’ve seen enough egg hunts to judge the relative level of control exerted by the organizers. Nothing they can do entirely rids the event of a few moments of chaos. That’s the inevitable result of a bunch of young people being whipped into frenzy as they crouch like sprinters waiting for the starter’s pistol. The difference between the egg hunt and a 100-meter dash is that when someone jumps the gun in the egg hunt, no amount of effort brings the runners back for a restart. It’s all over but the pushing, shoving, shouting and bawling.
Still, in more recent years, the organizers have divided the hunters into age groups, lending a relative bit of fairness to the competition. The prize still goes to the swift, and the strong, and for sure the aggressive, but most kids come away with at least a couple of pieces of chocolate or an egg.
During the hunt on one of our first Easter Sunday afternoons in Pierre, the entire lawn of the mansion was the battleground, all ages and all sizes. The kids lined up along the sidewalk on the east side of the grounds. At the starter’s signal, the entire pack bolted, swept across the lawn like grasshoppers over a field of alfalfa and kept galloping westward like a herd of stampeding longhorns spooked by dry lightning.
Whatever possessed the pack of kids, I couldn’t say. All I know is what I saw, and what I saw was the leaders, some of the older kids, all but give up on the hunt in favor of a mad dash across the manicured lawn, over the bridge at the south end of Capitol Lake and on down the sidewalk and around the lake. The younger kids followed, boys and girls, the skirts of Sunday dresses and the cuffs of Sunday slacks flapping as they sprinted along, past the old Buildings and Grounds’ maintenance garage — now the Capitol Lake Visitors Center — and around the curve of the lake, across the north bridge and back onto the lawn of the mansion, through the trees and back to the start, where the runners slowed, halted, panted and began to search the crowd for mothers and fathers, older brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers.
The adults in the crowd were quiet, stunned by the mad rush of their offspring. To this day, I don’t know quite what to make of that egg hunt, but it was a sight to behold.
These days, Nancy and I mostly time our Easter meal to the running of the eggs. If the weather is pleasant — and for heaven’s sake, why wouldn’t it be this spring, huh? — we sit on our porch, rocking and swinging, drinking coffee and calling out to folks we know who are taking children and grandchildren to the starting line for the hunt.
We generally have a more modest egg hunt indoors earlier in the morning, although since Nancy sometimes boils six or seven dozen eggs to color and hide, perhaps I’m misusing “modest” in this sentence. (“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means,” the guy said in “The Princess Bride.”)
The bunnies who hide the eggs at our house try to remember where each one ends up. That doesn’t always work, but sometime before the next holiday, we usually sniff out any missed eggs.
Once when our kids were young, we hid eggs in Chamberlain. Their uncle and a friend returned late from a boisterous evening out, re-hid most of the eggs and promptly forgot where.
Easter is all about redemption, but those two guys waited quite a while to get back in the good graces of the family.