Pumpkins and Eggs
On a global scale, seasons are defined by changing physical conditions of the region. In my family’s part of the world, spring and fall are evidenced by beautiful physical changes in the environment. There are bursts of color in the spring and mesmerizing daily color changes in the fall. These conditions are an external reminder of the internal rituals and milestones we experience as a family during the spring and fall seasons. These gatherings define the seasons by how we mark them as a family.
The first flowers, the bulbs, emerge following Valentine’s Day, the forerunner of spring. Trailing Valentine’s Day is spring break, a traditional few days off from school preceding the Easter holiday. Spring intensifies the last 48 hours before the Easter holiday. We know spring is imminent when the kitchen is steamy with pots of boiled eggs to decorate, the Easter baskets are dug out of storage, and we are a little sleepy because the clocks were moved forward one hour for daylight savings time. Each season, there is some task requiring the entire household to sit around the kitchen table to labor together. For spring, it is decorating beautiful Easter eggs. We labor first with crayon designs, and then the boiled eggs are set in dye. During this task, we conduct something similar to a quarterly meeting. It is our opportunity to update each other about ourselves, plan the Easter Holiday, and connect on a deeper level. We discuss everything a family would talk about: crushes, jobs and school issues to name a few. The dialogue comes easily. We have been decorating eggs together for many years. The conversation ebbs and flows as eggs break or are lifted from the dye and surprise us with their magnificence.
We know fall is imminent after school has started. It is just around the corner as the temperatures drop just a little and life is more scheduled and comfortable. Halfway into fall is Halloween, and the preparation signals the fall season. We return to the kitchen table again as a family to scoop and carve our pumpkins which number the same as attendees. We labor again, this time for the fall standard which is a small army of pumpkins marching up the porch steps. The pumpkin carving ritual serves as our board meeting for the third quarter of the year, and we tend to do a recap of the beginning of school happenings and discuss issues such as Thanksgiving, prom and teachers. There is also heated debate over the fiercest pumpkin from the years past. Forty eight hours following the pumpkin ritual, the pumpkins are smashed, and we move on to Thanksgiving which is the end of fall and the portal to the next season.
The Easter egg dying and the pumpkin carving always happen. They happened when I was a child, and my father did all the cutting. There were Easters where my mother decorated beautiful eggs that I try to emulate to this day. The faces around the table change. The attendance roster of our seasonal meetings adjusts to accommodate boyfriends, girlfriends and others, paralleling the family’s change over time. If I had to pick a favorite season, it would be fall: the clocks are moved forward, we are not as tired, and the next quarterly meeting is the season of Christmas cookies. The soul of our family corresponds with the planetary seasons, and its permanence. Thirty years from now as the bulbs start to bloom; my descendants will be boiling pots of water and setting out the dye cups for Easter eggs.