So it’s Easter.
In our household it’s the first that we’re sharing as a family with little Will. And it’s already a memorable one as only last night he made his first proper crawling movements and learned how to sit up unassisted. Having children injects a new sense of significance and play into these times. I also find myself thinking back to my own childhood.
Easter was typically cold, and one year when we went to the country town of Ballarat to stay with an uncle, this was particularly true. Ballarat is only a couple of hours out of Melbourne. It was at the heart of the gold rush in the 19th century so in its hey day it was awash with money. The main town is full of grand buildings and the streets were planned as avenues to rival those of any great city. As a centre of commerce it acquired its own cultural richness as people came from all over the globe to make their fortunes. It was home to one of the more famous events in early Australian history, the fight at the Eureka stockade in 1854, when a bunch of gold miners protested against levels of taxation imposed by the government. At least that’s what I remember. It became one of those iconic, anti-authority legends along with Ned Kelly and the Gallipoli campaign which every kid learns a bit about at school.
On Easter Sunday I woke first thing and braved the cold to see whether any Easter eggs had been left by the ‘Easter Bunny.’ I didn’t find anything so I went back to my warm bed to wait for everyone else to wake. I must have fallen asleep though because when I ventured out again, I started to find Easter eggs in many of the places I had looked earlier – in the post box, around the windows outside. This was over 30 years ago, so my memory is a bit hazy but they seemed to be everywhere. Sometimes there were also paw prints.Anyway, this Easter we were staying in an old stone building just out-of-town. I remember it as an old police station and there were photos and old objects from the 19th century all over the place. Most of all though it was very, very cold. My uncle and I did quite a bit of exploring and over the weekend we went for a walk through some very rugged (and yes COLD) fields full of thistle and rock. Blink and you might think you were in a Scottish moor rather than country Australia.The paddocks were marked off by low stone walls, which were apparently built by the convicts, the first generations of prisoner-settlers brought over from England. A walk turned into an impromptu sword fight (with sticks) – as they do and the tooth fairy made an appearance shortly after.
It’s funny but I’m particularly fond of this memory and looking back I can see why. Mostly I think it was about this sense of adventure and surprise. It wasn’t a fancy place by any means but it was really really interesting. We might as well have been staying in kind of live-in museum. I always loved history and in the house and in sword-fighting in the fields I sort of felt like I was a part of this history. It was the kind of environment where my imagination could just go wild. Then the delight of the Easter hunt just provided the finishing touch. I felt alive and loved – the best way to feel.
I was going to write something on death and rebirth, in keeping with the traditional symbolism of Easter – though I’m not sure what the Easter bunny has got to do with that? If you’ve read this blog for a while you might even guess what it would be about – something along the lines of former limited notions of self dying and new selves rising up again, victorious. A victory of life over death, of freedom over limitations. But maybe I’ll leave that for next time. Instead I’ll leave you with this little story and my wish that you and your family have a lovely Easter wherever you are and whatever you do.