Out to grass for Easter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 1995, 12:00am

I DON'T know, maybe I'm nuts but I think what this city really needs is an Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn. I've spent the last three Easters brunching in hotel ballrooms and although there was no shortage of jellybeans and there was always a bunny, there was definitely no lawn.

Don't get me wrong. Some of my happiest celebrations have taken place in Hong Kong hotels. My husband proposed to me in the lobby bar of the Regent some 13 years ago. We celebrated our last anniversary in a luxurious suite at the Grand Hyatt and I can't imagine starting the new year without a glass of eggnog at the Mandarin. But when it comes to hard boiled eggs, ya gotta have the grass, man.

When I was little, Easter was a pretty big deal in our house. My mom would spend weeks constructing the dress I'd wear to church on Sunday morning. New black patent leather 'Mary Janes' and white tights were purchased and kept in their wrappers until the big day. Back then, you fasted from midnight the night before Easter and I'd usually 'given up' chocolate for Lent, so while all around me folks were celebrating the resurrection, all I could see was a seven-inch hollow chocolate rabbit rising like the Statue of Liberty out of the wicker basket that sat on the dining room table back at the house.

The car ride home through suburbia to the basket took forever, but once I was in the house, that rabbit was mine! And there is nothing like Lenten denial to really bring out the brute in an eight-year-old girl. Whack! There goes an ear. Crunch! A single sugary eye stares back in surprise. By the time I got to his little paws that bunny looked like something out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The last thing to go from the basket was the hardboiled eggs we'd coloured the night before.

You remember the smell of the hot vinegar that was supposed to help the dye stick to the shell? The magic of writing half of your name (I could never fit all of it) in crayon on a white egg and seeing it magically appear when you dyed that baby red? And the cheesy wire egg holder off of which the carefully coloured yellow egg would slip into the purple? I'd always end up with a fair number of puce and brindled Easter eggs monogrammed, T E R E.

The highlight of the day . . . the part that came after getting sick on the now deaf, dumb and blind bunny, and before getting back into my tights and Mary Janes, to go to Grandma's house for lamb and mint jelly . . . was heading off to find the eggs my friends' grandparents had hidden.

Trees ran the length of Lincoln Avenue and there was a section, before you got to Golden Gate Park, where they would invite all the neighbourhood kids to come and hunt for Easter eggs.

A pink and yellow egg would be peeking out from between those tiny yellow and white daisies that grown-ups told us we were allowed to make daisy chains with because they were 'just weeds'. Another would be staring down at you from the branches of a pine tree. And the uncut grass was rampant with purple and green and orange eggs, if you just knew where to look.

I don't believe I ever actually ate a hardboiled Easter egg. But who thought about what you'd do with them after you found them, it was searching that magic little patch of greenery, with parents sipping thermos mugs of hot coffee and guiding us along with 'your getting warmer . . . warmer . . . cold . . colder'. That's what I remember about Easter. Lawns are a commodity here.

Large debentures are paid for rolling on lawns and unless you've paid it, your kids will probably be hunting the marble stairway of The Conrad for eggs again this year. There's no harm in that. The kids probably don't know any better. But there is better . . .

I know a guy who's got the perfect garden. And it's not like he doesn't want the company. In fact, there's an open invitation each year for us all to come and view his azaleas. So, Chris, whaddya say? If we promise not to trample them in the search, could we come and play on your lawn next Easter?