Learning by Guess and by Gosh

From the perspective of the writing life I now live, it’s easy to look back and see that what I was doing before was all a matter of gathering material. Falling in and out of love, moving around the country, having children, raising children, working in one art form after another before landing on writing. Writing being the biggest catch basin of them all.

Now here comes Easter and all I can think of is how much I miss building my daughters’ baskets. Two little girls, a blond and a brunette, who played along with the Easter bunny story for years because it made me happy. And because they love chocolate, games and treasures too. Somewhere I still have their first baskets. I treasured them and was sorry they ever outgrew them. How enormous they looked, like bassinets! Pale yellow and pale blue, one had a bunny carved on the wooden handle and the other, a duck. The baskets were handmade and I had found them in a gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Into these I went out of my way every year to find natural grass, not the cellophane stuff, but more like straw or shredded paper, dyed in pale shades like the baskets.

soap bubble

OK, good grass in the baskets, now what? I put a lot of thought into the contents in an effort to go sparingly on candy. A fine chocolate bunny—they initially preferred white chocolate but over the years I steered them to dark. And then I looked for little gifts that would fit in the baskets: pocket-sized jigsaw puzzles, bracelets, bath salts, lovely soaps, that sort of thing. Topped with a smattering of jelly beans and all tied up with a pretty bow.

Baskets built, girls sleeping, I set to work with an Easter scavenger hunt of sorts. Having cut scores of bunny paw prints out of paper, I lay the prints down starting at their bedroom door then “hopping” all over the house in circles, loops and crazy figure-eights. In the end the paw prints always led to the baskets–whereas if the girls had only “looked up” they most likely would have found their baskets sooner. For years the girls indulged me in this too.

Indulged me more than I ever knew, as I recently overheard one remark to the other that all their Easter candies tasted a bit like soap every year.

I feel bad about that.

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