Easter in Cloverdale
When we were little, on Easter morning, we had an Easter egg hunt. My Mom had bought a few small Easter eggs, the chocolate ones, and they were hidden around the house. Not outside was the rule because that would be too cold and possibly dirty and wet. We always checked about this when we couldn’t find an egg and my Mom said they were definitely inside and she thought there were one or two eggs still not found.
They would be hidden in the bowl on the bureau in the living room, the wooden bowl that held the matches Mom and Dad used to collect from hotels in those days. They didn’t smoke, but we would use them for lighting fires in the fireplace, and they were souvenirs. The match packets advertised things like Harrison Hot Springs and places where there were golf courses, or small cafes on the way up the Fraser River.
Or they would be hidden inside one of the drawers in the bureau, next to the photo albums, and the fancy salad spoons relatives brought us from Africa, that we only used when we had guests. They would be hidden behind lamps or on the top of book bindings. There was usually a couple hidden in the den, one or two hidden on or around the record player, on top of the Neil Diamond albums, or behind one of the speakers. Sometimes they were hidden on our piano and the music on top of it. Near the front door there would be one hidden on the stairs going down to the basement.
We would find all of these, would have several of these tiny eggs each and we were happy about it. We were excited about the egg hunt the night before, and afterwards were excited for the whole day, and that was just over a few chocolate eggs. But also the belief in some type of magic that was present that day.
These days, the eggs I see now at the drug store for a dollar or two, I might just buy a few to have around the house when I craved chocolate. It’s not really the same. Later that day, as kids, we might get a small chocolate bunny from my grandparents when they arrived for Easter dinner. We would go to the United Church and then to Sunday School, then at one point we stopped going.
I just wonder what happened to the excitement I had over a few Easter eggs. I guess I can liken it now to sitting down to fresh coffee when you haven’t had any in the house for a couple of days, or sitting down to a home cooked meal. It is something that you can appreciate.
One Easter when we were small, instead of staying at home, we stayed at my Mom’s parents out in Clayton in the Cloverdale area of Surrey. My grandparents had a farm there, or a house that was very much a house in the country. There were fields in the back, I’m not sure if the field used to be theirs.
Cows in the fields, a barn, a vegetable garden, a porch and an old fashioned house. How long had they been there? There was an old black and white photograph of my Mom standing at the end of the gravel driveway, by the road, when she was 18.
We would stay in the guest bedroom upstairs which had two single beds in it. The pillow cases were white and had embroidery of different colours on the border at the end. There were two windows. One that looked out onto the back yard and the barns, and one that looked onto the front yard, the ornamental trees and hedges, the road and the farm across the street.
The floor had been covered by some type of linoleum which was now cracked in places. It was here one Easter that I can remember having a vivid childhood dream, probably when I was four or five, and I was sleeping in one of the beds. There was a brown jack rabbit, taller than us with a pack on it’s back that was in the room leaving eggs. In the dream, I saw it stand by the end of the bed, looking at me. When I woke in the morning I told my sister and I swore that I hadn’t imagined it, it had actually been in the room at the foot of the bed.
There was something I liked about those days, when my grandma was still alive, when I knew what things were called in nature. I knew what the names of the flowers were in our garden and I knew which were her favourite.
At their place, with the sash window open in the bedroom and it being newly spring, the scents of the flowers drifted into through the window, I could see the whites of the lily of the valley that was my grandma’s favourite, I could smell the earth and see the long grass in the field and the buds on the trees, and the cherry blossom.
It was a time when we seemed to be able to shed our coats in a couple of weeks, from cold rain to warm sunshine.
Outside of their house, their driveway wasn’t even paved, it was just hard gravel dirt where the car wheels went and then grass in the middle. Their was an antique feeling in the house and the garden and its surroundings.
I saw where the driveway met the road, but my mind never went beyond there. I didn’t remember the car rides going home or leaving there. It was as if it was in a different world.
But if I was to pick any road, as a place of meeting with another world, the sunshiny street outside of my grandparents would be where I would wait. It was trafficless, quiet, remote and in a different time it seemed.
This is a work of creative nonfiction; it contains no composite characters and no names have been changed. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them, but I have taken some storytelling liberties, due to my interpretation of events, fading memory, lack of time machine, and need to cherry-pick some memories over others in order to express my thoughts within the story.