Bern’s Eye View

By: 
Bernadine Hildebrant, LifeEnterprise

“Spring has sprung. The grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is?”…so goes the old saying. Apparently, there are several versions of this as well as a longer poem. Everyone of a certain age seems to know this saying one way or the other, and it is recited as soon as it feels like spring.

It sure has felt like spring here and there over the last few weeks, with the usual snowstorm thrown in, just in case we forget we live in Minnesota. “It must snow on the robin’s tail three times before spring can begin” is another often-quoted tale.

Earlier this month, I even got to sit outside in my makeshift café in my attached garage where the sun can shine on me, yet I am out of the wind. My daughter-in-law, Gail, sets this up for me on nice days and occasionally I even get some company. Last time we sat out, my daughter, Eileen, came over, followed by my son, Mike, and other daughter, Kathi. Gail even made a delicious lemon pound cake. Later they helped me (while I rested in my chair and watched) decorate for St. Patrick’s Day.

Now that St. Paddy’s Day is a memory, let’s turn our thoughts to Easter! Although Easter is a solemn occasion, it is also a joyous one. Christ has died, but Christ has risen. Also, the Easter Bunny leaves us treats. What can be better than that?

When our kids were younger we had a tradition of… Oops! I mean, the Easter Bunny had a tradition of leaving them a big bowl of M&Ms, balsa wood airplanes, chocolate bunnies, paddle balls, and jump ropes. Everyone had the most fun with the balsa wood airplanes, winding them up with the rubber band and letting them take off in the driveway!

My earliest childhood memory of Easter, from when my family lived out at the farm (which is now a part of the Sakatah State Park), was the Easter morning when my dad sent my brother and me outside, in the snow, to follow the tracks of the Easter Bunny. Oh, how amazed we were when those Bunny tracks led us to a basket filled with colored eggs! After that, our whole family, including my grandmother, climbed into our horsedrawn sleigh and we headed off to church.

My sources have filled me in on some very weird Easter traditions and customs around the world. Most countries have some sort of event where kids run around looking for colored eggs and candy. But here are a few lesser- known celebrations:

FRANCE: They cook a giant omelet during the Giant Omelet Festival. The dish is 10 feet wide and made with 5,000 eggs! We could do that here in Waterville, but Davis’ MarketPlace would have to know well in advance!

CORFU, GREECE: They go to Mass, the church bells ring, (so far so good)… but at the end of the liturgy, residents toss clay pots off their balconies. The noisy custom is thought to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Would be pretty hard to sleep through that!

ITALY: They like to blow things up it seems! On Easter morning, a 30-foot-tall antique cart, which has been in use for 500 years, is hauled to the town square by oxen adorned with spring flowers and herbs and escorted by soldiers, musicians and people dressed in Medieval costumes. A priest creates an Easter fire, singing commences and when all is said and done, a mechanical dove dives through the church and into the cart setting off a blaze of explosions. How do they come up with this?! Perhaps this is something we can think about for the next Bullhead Days celebration?

POLAND, SLOVENIA, and RUSSIA: A bit more peaceful celebration goes on here where they make a lamb sculpture out of butter. This reminds me of our own Minnesota tradition of sculpting our Princess Kay of the Milky Way in butter each year at the State Fair. Perhaps we are not so different after all!

It wouldn’t be Easter without Easter brunch or dinner. I remember one Easter, while my husband, Glen, was still living, that I bought an Arkansas ham. Not cheap, mind you! After dinner I put what remained of the ham in our attached garage as there was no room in the refrigerator and it was cool out there. Unfortunately, I left the garage door open. A while later we were all sitting around the table chatting and noticed the neighbor dog running across the street with an Easter treat in his mouth! You guessed it… the rest of the Arkansas ham. Let’s just say “Fido” wasn’t the only one in the doghouse that day.

What goes good with an Easter ham? Au gratin potatoes! Here is one of my favorite recipes: Au Gratin Potatoes Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Butter a medium casserole dish. Thinly slice 4 russet potatoes and layer in bottom of dish. Slice 1 small onion into thin rings and layer on top of potatoes. Add 3 tablespoons of butter. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour on top. Add 2 cups whole milk. Sprinkle on 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake 1 ½ hours or until potatoes are tender and there is a nice crispy crust on top.

During this pandemic I surely do miss going to Mass and seeing everyone I know unite in song and prayer. Thankfully, with the millions being vaccinated now (me included!) and spring and summer on the horizon, we can have our own resurrection of sorts and move on to better days.

Happy Easter, everyone!

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