Easter Delights

Easter has come and gone for another year, the difference being this year we didn’t go away. Of course, the bigger difference is why we weren’t allowed to go away, but I’ve had just about enough of anything to do with Coronavirus and am preferring to focus instead on delight.

It’s still possible, as I noted last time I wrote, to find moments of delight in this crazy world of self-isolation. Despite it sometimes feeling like the four walls around us are closing in, there have been a number of things that have kept me going over the Easter break — particularly since we’ve not been able to share it with friends and family as we usually would.

So here, in no specific order, are four things that brought me delight over the four days of the Easter long weekend:

The Hilltop Hoods Restrung Albums

Easter 1I love the Hilltop Hoods and the raw honesty of their hip hop. But I also grew up in a house where we listened almost exclusively to classical music, and have an abiding appreciation for many things orchestral. Operatic, not so much…despite my eclectic tastes.

It’s probably not surprising, then, that I think one of best things the Hilltop Hoods have ever done was re-release a few of their albums with a new “band” — the Adelaide Symphony — referring to the revamps as “restrung” works. The result is simply brilliant: a mixture of glorious horns, lush strings, great beats, phenomenal lyrics and a lexicon that will truly blow your mind. Check out The Hard Road restrung as an example…you can thank me later.

Opening the Peppermint Tea Box

Easter 2Initially I wondered whether I should include something in this list that appears, on the surface, to be completely mundane. But then I realised this is exactly what finding delight in life is all about: when the minty scent rushes out of a freshly opened box of peppermint tea, I never fail to smile. I feel enormous contentment. My heart sings.

These are the sorts of everyday delights that become a recurring pleasure, things I look forward to even though they seem, at first, to be so…ordinary. These are the small things that bring great joy to our lives, if we look for them and let them.

Bare Feet

Easter 3It is a truth universally acknowledged, to paraphrase Jane Austen, that an Australian is in possession of a pair of feet is only ever in want of a pair of thongs. Or ugg boots, as the season dictates. Part of the great wonder of living in the Land Down Under is our love of informal footwear — surpassed only, I suspect, by our preference for going barefoot whenever possible. During the summer, this phenomenon extends in the beachside suburb where I live to clothing: it is not unusual to see people down at the shops wearing wet swimmers and, at best, a towel…definitely no shoes. After all, they’re probably only at the shops to pick up a Golden Gaytime or a Chocolate Paddlepop, so what’s the point in getting dressed?

In the current “climate” — which could be called autumnul with a dose of pandemic — one of the unexpected delights of having to stay home is that I am able to indulge my love of going barefoot the vast majority of the time. On the rare occasions I venture to the shops I wear thongs. Sometimes, now that the evenings are cooler, I get my uggs on. With shorts. Because that’s how we roll, and we love it.

But being barefoot? It’s the best.

Jacinda Ardern

Easter 4Staying in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s high time I acknowledge one of the great delights of the Asia-Pacific Region: Jacinda Ardern. Let’s face it — she sorted out Easter for concerned citizens the world over when she answered a question in a press conference regarding the current employment status of the Easter Bunny. Clearly stating the Easter Bunny was performing an essential service and would be able to deliver multitudes of chocolate eggs set the minds of many small people at ease, and explaining there might be a slight delay in delivery due to current social distancing measures was a masterstroke appreciated by parents who hadn’t quite managed a supermarket run in the leadup to Easter Sunday.

To follow up this classy performance with a Facebook post including an Easter Egg template she encouraged Kiwi kids to colour or decorate and display in their window so everyone in the neighbourhood could do an Easter Egg hunt on their daily walk showed just how much Jacinda Ardern gets it. And inviting those kids to email her the finished product directly? Genius.

From where we’re sitting across The Ditch, Jacinda Ardern looks like a bright ray of sunshine we’d like to bask in.  Watch out New Zealand…as soon as they open the borders we might all just move over.

So there you have it, folks: four Easter delights.

If you’re feeling so inclinded, let me know what made your Easter delightful this year.


Up Down Funky World

Easter falls at an odd time of year here in the Great Southern Land.  Instead of being filled with green growth and the tweets, cheeps and bleats that herald the coming of spring, we’re starting to feel the first cold snaps of autumn.  The pagan seasonal rituals that morphed into the major festivals of the Christian calendar are turned on their head here — it’s an Up Down Funky World, to quote Miss Malaprop (with apologies to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for her latest mondegreen). Not that we mind: we have our own traditions and ways of making Easter relevant, despite the seasonal imbalance, and they don’t all involve The Bunny.

Now, I’m not one to bang on about matters of religion — what you believe is your business, what I believe is mine — but here are a couple of the things that have made Easter special, in the true Bruce McAvaney sense of the word, for us this year.

March 2015 044Topping the list is our inaugural family outing to the Royal Easter Show, giving our girls their first taste of what happens when carnies and country folk collide. We wandered through a whirl of colour and light, taking in the giant fruit pictures (all Centenary of ANZAC themed this year) and the intricately decorated cakes before moving onto the animals: the cows and bulls, the goats and pigs, the dogs and cats. The kids had their first look at dressage and competitive woodchopping, tasted their first fairy floss, bought their first showbags (the Frozen bag for Miss Malaprop, while my Marvel Girl naturally chose the Avengers Assemble one).

While The Bloke went in search of the bratwurst and sauerkraut hot dog stall he frequents every time we go to the Show, the girls and I found a shady green space to relax near the Sydney Olympic Stadium, which neither of them had ever seen before. I found myself reminiscing about the old showgrounds at Moore Park before they were revamped into Fox Studios, remembering crowded laneways and redbrick pavilions where you could get separated from your parents in the crush faster than you could say “Bertie Beetle”, but knowing full well that getting lost at the Easter Show was a rite of passage for most kids growing up in Sydney during the 1980s. As I eyed the wrist bands displaying my mobile phone number that my children had been tagged with upon entering the Homebush showgrounds, I couldn’t help but think how much times have changed — probably for the better.

Easter PrizeSpeaking of changing times, the second tradition we upheld this year is a relatively new one for us: attending the Easter Hat Parade at Marvel Girl’s school. Not surprisingly, the Easter Hat Parade is exactly like it sounds: a parade of all the kindergarten children wearing Easter hats they (or more likely their parents) have created. Miss Malaprop was suitably impressed by the various bonnets from her vantage point on the sidelines, but even she knew that the main event came after the Parade: the drawing of the near-legendary Easter Raffle. First Prize in the Easter Raffle is usually so big that the box of chocolate and soft bunny toys is nearly impossible to carry, and the name of child who wins it is repeated reverently for years to come.

This year, Marvel Girl didn’t take home the Big One, but she did end up winning fourth prize, a box stuffed so full of chocolate rabbits and eggs that I was forced to explain that The Bunny doesn’t bring quite so much on Easter Sunday to kids who have been lucky enough to take home such a huge haul. What did please me, however, was the selfless generosity Marvel Girl displayed having won such a big prize: she gave away about half the chocolate she had won, and shared the rest of it with the family — even giving Miss Malaprop the egg in the Wonder Woman box she had been coveting since the second she saw it.

Easter TreeBut then, not to be outdone, it was Miss Malaprop’s turn to surprise me when she requested that we make an Easter Tree. Her reasoning, of course, was that Santa knew where to put presents at Christmas because we had a Christmas Tree, so wouldn’t it be easier if we made the Easter Bunny an Easter Tree so he would know where to put the eggs? We spent a delightful afternoon finding a suitable branch, crafting the decorations, and covering ourselves in glue. Seeing the look of pride on her face when she displayed the results to Marvel Girl and The Bloke was reward enough for me, but hearing their excited whispers outside their bedrooms on Easter Sunday morning before they charged down the hallway to share the experience of checking beneath the Easter Tree was equally heart-warming.

So what else has made our Easter special? The Bloke would probably say that getting to surf four days in a row would top his list — but that’s where living in an Up Down Funky World comes in once again: even though the air temperature is dropping rapidly, the sea temperature is still wonderfully warm. For me it has been curling up with a hot cup of tea to re-read the Tales of the Otori, Lian Hearn’s wonderful series set in an imagined Japanese inspired world. But it has also been getting to sleep for an extra hour, since Easter has coincided with the end of Eastern Daylight Saving Time, and getting to offload more junk, since Council clean up is on too (and many of you already know how I feel about that).

There’s a big southerly due in this evening, one that’s set to blow the chill off Bass Strait up the eastern seaboard. But right now, Easter Monday is sunny and warm, and another trip to the beach is ripe for the picking before the sea temperature starts to drop off too. It’s an Up Down Funky World, but it’s a good one.