↑ Oak Grove Park, Pasadena, CA
As a child, Easter was my favorite day of the year, even more anticipated than Christmas. In the morning all of our family friends and neighbors came to our house for a huge Easter egg hunt, and my best friends, Schuyler, Holly, and Jesse, were always there. My mother and I spent the week before decorating hard boiled eggs and stuffing candies into plastic ones. Hundreds of eggs were stashed all through the back yard, the side of the house, the front yard, and even down to our parking lot. Once the hunt started, our parents would stand on the back deck laughing and yelling encouragement.
When the egg hunt was over we'd pile into the car with our dogs and head to the 300 acre park 5 minutes from our house for an all day potluck picnic. A few years ago the park was renamed Hahamonga Watershed Park, but back then it was still Oak Grove Park. The park is beautiful, and as a kid I knew it like the back of my hand. From the age of four I'd spent every summer at day camp there riding horses, building forts, playing games, and climbing through the aqueduct system that leads to a huge dam at one end of the park. The camp gave awards out at the end of each day for the muddiest camper, and sometimes I'd come home with mud piled so high on my head that my mom would have to hose me down in the front yard before letting me in the house.
The Easter picnic was always held under the same grove of oak trees at the park, and it being southern California, the weather was always perfect. I do not remember even one rained out picnic. Some years there were maybe twenty people, others up to fifty or perhaps more.
The grass was always tall and green, and Schuyler, Holly, Jesse and I would play in it all day, making up games, telling stories, and eating unhealthy amounts of Easter candy while the sun beat down on us. There were often badminton and horseshoe games going among the adults, and we'd get in on it when we could. Potluck meals were set out on picnic blankets and our two dogs, Mike & Poco, were always there roaming free in the grass. In the best way possible, that day always seemed to go on forever.
This morning when I looked out at the view from our deck, I couldn't help but notice the stark contrast of the Vermont landscape during Easter to the one I remember as a child. By April in California, winter is a distant memory, the sun is hot, and everything is in bloom. Our Vermont landscape is brown, grey, damp, foggy, and covered in snow.
Does it have its own beauty? Absolutely. In fact, I do love the view and never get tired of looking at it. But just this morning, I am missing Easter the way I knew it as a kid. I'm missing the people, the smell of grass and oak trees, and I am especially missing the sun.
Oak Grove Park Image Source