For years and years Easter was always a special time for my family. For year after year we would gather at the country property we had at Yarck, towards Mansfield, for Easter celebrations. We would all be there, my mum and her husband, my sister and her family, and often times my step-sister and her family also. All up there could be up to 12 of us crammed into the main house, and in the log cabin, where I would stay.
We would each of us be responsible for a meal over the break, and so we would do our separate shopping before hand and bring the fixings with us. We ate very well, extravagantly so at times, and did not stint on the drinking either – my stepfather and I particularly had a great appreciation for good wine, and a big capacity for alcohol in general.
Generally Easter was later in the year than now, and most nights there would be a fire crackling and heating the air while outside darkness fell early and the wintry nights encroached. I remember so well those nights, leaving the house each night for my cabin and looking up at the sky above, at the multitude of stars sprinkled across the dark sky. Often I would pause to look upon it, and when I went on would take with me to my bed some of the wonder they inspired in me.
During the day if it was warm we might swim, or play tennis, though both were uncommon. More usually we would read between our sumptuous meals from the pile of books we had brought with us, or do some work around the house to keep it looking good. The garden was my mother’s pride and joy, and there was always work maintaining it. Every morning and every afternoon we would have a tea or coffee break with some of the cookies or biscuits mum had made. Before lunch we would always have a glass of sweet Sherry – Woodleys – for tradition as much as anything else; and every dinner would be preceded by a gin and tonic or a beer, depending on preference.
Most years we would journey into Mansfield for the fair, which was always a big deal. We would go our separate ways looking at the arts and crafts stalls while munching on a roo burger or something, picking up little knick-knacks – much fun. I might with the kids go on a camel ride, them giggling with the strange lurching of the beast and clinging onto their Buppa, which is what they call me.
Every Easter Sunday we would have an Easter egg hunt, for adults as well as children. We – being the blokes – would roll our eyes each year at this, how silly really, how juvenile, but once things got rolling we were deadly serious and very competitive. (It’s at this point I have to make the point that I won every year for some reason, much to my brother in laws disgust.) It was all about the kids though, and they would race around the garden looking for the glittering little eggs, urged on by us and given hints.
It was like that every Easter until the last couple. My stepfather is dead now, and the property sold. This year I went elsewhere and had a laddish time away, but very different.
I was watching the last little bit of Doctor Zhivago when all this came back to me. In the movie there is a scene where Zhivago and Lara come across the old country estate shroded in thick ice, like a fairy tale. They go inside to what appears a lost world, unchanged and frozen in the moment it was last inhabited, while the world around it has been rocked by violent upheavals. Things change.
Then my sister rang. “What’s up?” she asked.
“Thinking about Easter,” I told her.
She knew what I meant. “Mmm, me too”, she said.
“Sad isn’t it?”
Still, that’s the thing. Times come and ago. What you had before you can have again, only different.