Colorfully dyed eggs. Cute baskets with tall, arched handles. Sweet little dresses, handsome suits, and polished shoes. Fluffy bunnies and downy chicks. Adorable families. These are the images cameras’ love at this time of year; the quintessential Easter Sunday.
This however, was not our Easter Sunday. Nope. Nada. Zilch. And I am okay with that. Finally.
For many years, I straddled the fence. Wishing desperately for the chance to dye eggs with my own sweet children, to revel in the sparkle of a child’s eye as eggs are discovered hidden in the backyard, I soaked in what I could, living vicariously through friends-with-children. During these years, the long-held tradition of a magnificent Easter lunch was born, complete with an amazing dessert, my friend “B” and I would have made the day before, usually a multi-layered cake straight from the pages of the spring Bon Appetit magazine.
However, this tradition melted away, casualty of my divorce – the seismic shift which tumbled my life. And, my friends-with-children and I, well, we’ve cordially gone our separate ways, rather in the spirit of a mutual and friendly break-up. We hug when we meet on the street, we chit-chat, soon realizing we are running out of things to say and quickly transition into a flurry of good-byes and “let’s get together soon” promises. And this is OKAY.
It feels like a quiet dawn has broken – a light spills over the horizon – and I am able to embrace the reality in which I live: I live childfree. This is not a Pollyanna façade, for this childfree state was created more by circumstance than by choice, am I am in full possession of this knowledge. However, I do have the choice of how I will live my days. And I choose peace and abundance. From this place of acceptance, I am able to approach and redefine the traditional holidays into meaningful days filled with laughter and joy, rather than, pain and suffering.
As much as I desired the quintessential Easter, to reside in that state of desire, longing for a specific type of life, only brings me more sorrow and I’ve had enough of that, dammit! I commit to living in joy.
This commitment to joy opened up a deep space inside me where I am once again I am able to access, with clarity, all the people, places, activities, and things which bring me happiness, and it is a beautiful list, indeed: My adorable guy takes the number one spot, followed closely by funny friends, great food, spectacular desserts (especially pies and gorgeous multi-layered cakes), decent wine, finely crafted cheese, and biking. Based on this list, you understand, I bike so I can eat, truly. But I digress. And one more thing I love: technology. Really. A single email combines all my loves in one fell swoop and – presto – a ride is organized, a potluck encouraged, and magically, friends with bikes and food appear at the designated time and place!
In the spirit of Easter Sunday, we, My Guy and I, somewhat irreverently (apologies to my Mennonite mama) hosted services for the Church of the Holy Bike Ride which began promptly at 10:20 a.m. from our driveway. Twelve friends showed up to ride the big-bad-ass hills of Southwestern Wisconsin. (We promised Come-to-Jesus, Sweat-away-your-sins, hills.) My Guy devised a route, of sorts, and we set out with our maps and quickly splintered into smaller groups of riders, eventually coming together at various points along the way.
It was a stunningly gorgeous day: blue sky and sunshine; the lilacs were in full bloom and the breeze floated their sweet scent; birds chirped and called to one another – we spotted a blue heron rise gracefully from the edge of an ox-bow creek – a startled turkey flushed out from the side of the road equally surprised one of our riders (and luckily an accident was avoided) – redwing blackbirds swayed on bushes.
I love being on my bike. I adore biking with friends. I simply revel in the great outdoors – my eyes can hardly take in all the beauty; spring is especially sensational this year – the hillsides are punctuated with chartreuse, rusty rose, and lime greens.
Over 3,000 feet of elevation and 57 miles later we were back, ready for food and drink. Drink, of course, being beer – the post-ride, recovery beverage of choice in Wisconsin. Additional friends showed up, trickling in for the after-party, bringing the numbers to about twenty folks – which in my humble estimation, is a decent size for a party.
Food, in epically proportioned bowls, was lifted from coolers and placed on the kitchen peninsula: side salads like veggie-filled pasta, oriental-slaw, romaine-walnut, and spinach-arugula-quinoa salads graced the buffet. Asparagus and brats and other slabs of meat charred nicely on the grill. A lamb shoulder studded with garlic roasted gently in the oven (there is not a picture of this, sadly – it was magnificent).
And cake. Plenty of cake. For what is Easter without cake? Carrot cake in honor of the bunnies; Chocolate cake layered with ganache and strawberries (vegan and gluten-free); a lemon-raspberry-butter cream cake (gluten-free); and chocolate-rum cheesecake (gluten-free).
Admittedly, I did have twinges of sadness as I baked the cakes this year – lots of fond memories of past baking extravaganzas with my friend “B”. Once again, I was faced with choosing how I wanted to move forward – and I chose cake over lack and loss. And I baked with abandon.
It was in the baking and the biking that I salvaged the best elements of previous traditions and built on the blessings and love to create something new and fresh! I wish the same for you.