Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Hunting! One Exception

Easter egg hunt: making memories

Sartre once said that there are no real adventures, that adventures are ways in which we (re)construct the past.* That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I have two memories of easter egg hunts – one at a vicarage garden party when I was a child, and the other as a grown-up on an estate in Scotland. I remember them both, but especially the first, as events, as adventures. They were exciting social events, with people swirling around, but they were also solitary quests, trying to anticipate what someone else would think a good hiding place, as experienced burglars do with house keys concealed in the garden.

The weather could not have been better. After deadly tornadoes nearby the previous weekend, and heavy rain, the skies cleared for us, and we had a bright sunny day. I had devised a combo egg scavenger hunt and treasure trail. The scavenger hunt would be for kids, and not stray too far from the house. There would be chocolate eggs, and plastic eggs filled with candy. And the treasure hunt would send teams of people two in two directions around a figure of eight trail, crossing in the airstream trailer in the middle with a bottle of wine and glasses laid out on the table. There would also be a shorter trail for late-comers, leading to a buried pot of gold. In all cases there were a series of clues (39 in all), and gifts scattered around the clue sites, in crevices in trees, handing from branches, loosely covered on the ground etc. But as Robbie Burns told us, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” I should not have told people in advance that they might meet in the Airstream because when they got lost, they headed there, generating something like a short-circuit, even carrying away the wine as a prize. And I had not anticipated that it would only be necessary for one team to row out to the floating Picasso-like yellow swan on the lake and read the clue. Others could simply tag along with those who had returned to shore. Of course the obsessive trail-designer wants people to follow each and every segment of the trail in the right order. So I was grateful to Zach for finding the pot of gold in the gulch at the very end. It was with mixed feelings that next day I discovered still lodged in a cedar tree a bottle of champagne, a small bottle of Chateau Yellow Bird Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 (“Bottled in the imagination”). I had won my very own prize, like a dog who discovers in the Spring a bone he had forgotten he had buried in the Fall. The next treasure hunt will be slightly different, based on the potluck principle, and the public cashing in of coupons hidden on the trail for (hopefully seriously interesting) items brought by the participants.

The pot-luck part of this event was the food. Somehow, and without planning, there was exactly the right amount, and balance. And it was delicious.

Easter is a time of resurrection. And it seems the ticks got resurrected too after a winter of inactivity. It is said that the best way of ridding a pond of leeches is to invite a class of young kids to swim in the pond, and they will walk away as leech-magnets. I did not intend such a strategy in this case, but I understand that many ticks did get a ride home with my 30 guests. We should have sprayed, but the ticks had successfully staged a surprise spring offensive. Catherine found six, and was still counting. Luckily they are more creepy than dangerous.

* (Re: Sartre, above) It’s true we may not know until later how things will turn out, and sometimes do not label as such what we will subsequently call an adventure, but uncertainty about how things will turn out is a lived experience.