Easter, believe it or not, has always been my favorite holiday of all. Halloween frightened me a little, as a child; and Christmas, despite food and presents, sometimes brings out the worst in a family for reasons I can’t identify. But Easter has always been a lovely, uncomplicated sort of occasion, even if marred by a freak snowstorm or blustery March winds. It’s just candy, baked ham, colored eggs and Christ is Risen, and family all more or less getting along. It’s the official start to Spring.

Since we bought our house, some 25 years ago, I’ve always marked the occasion with the ‘egg tree.’ Yes, it’s tacky and time-consuming, but my little daughter loved it, and took to the chore with gusto. She was the supervisor, instructing me which color egg to hang on which branch. It started out on one of the old azalea bushes, but when we added the front porch, I planted a dwarf pink dogwood beside it, for the express purpose of hanging the Easter eggs off its branches, which remain stark and seemingly lifeless until late April. For several years, we were able to fill the entire tree in glorious technicolor plastic. Until the inevitable day when the tree decided it didn’t want to be a dwarf anymore and sprouted far beyond our arms’ reach. And daughter, growing into her teens, lost interest in the tree entirely. Yet I continued to hang the eggs, doggedly, out of habit, falling prey to OCD compulsions to make sure the colors were perfectly balanced and the eggs evenly spaced out. I forgot why I was even doing it anymore.

This year, I thought I might skip the whole thing. Daughter is not coming home for Easter, and I was too busy to even look for the stored eggs in the attic. Then a longtime neighbor asked me, plaintively, “Aren’t you putting up the egg tree this year? I was looking forward to it.”   And so, yesterday—feeling a bit wan, recovering from a nasty stomach flu–I wandered outside with the egg basket, and feebly hung a few ornaments among the lowest branches. So the Easter tree has a melancholy sort of feel to it this year: That’s actually it, in the photograph above.  As you can see, spring comes slowly to the Rockaway River Valley. But don’t be fooled—Easter is still my favorite holiday.

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