Herb Benham Easter

Easter is springing up all over downtown with lawn decorations like these at the law office of Ira L. Stoker at 20th and B streets.

Easter is a time of renewal, joy and love or at least I thought so until Sue and I got into it over a pound of jelly beans I’d bought from Smart & Final. I’d put them in a bowl and when I came home one afternoon she had removed the black ones and the white ones from the mix.

“What did you do that for?” I asked, my voice rife with indignation.

“I wanted the bowl to be filled with Easter colors,” she explained.

Easter colors? Doesn’t white symbolizes purity, grace and the Resurrection?

Isn’t black how people feel during Lent, when they’ve given up alcohol and sugar and it’s only Day 5?

I’ll show you, I thought. I grabbed a handful of black and white jelly beans and stuffed them into my mouth. Normally, I separate them but I was trying to prove a point, which is I don’t discriminate against jelly beans regardless of their color.

Jelly bean incident aside, I like everything about Easter: ham, soft rolls, Peeps and Easter egg hunts with pint-sized Easter egg hunters like Nora.

“Nora, should we hide some Easter eggs?” I asked a few days ago, figuring that she could use some practice given she’s only had two Easter egg hunts under her belt.

The answer was yes and so we carried the basket filled with plastic colored eggs to the front porch and front yard.

“Close your eyes,” I said, and she closed her eyes the way little kids do, one eye half-shut and the other eye half-open.

Who could blame her? The only thing more fun than hunting Easter eggs is hunting them when you know where they are. That’s like finding them twice.

I hid them in plain view — under the liquidambar trees, on top of the plastic, green Adirondack chairs and next to the mailbox on the side of the front porch.

“Open your eyes,” I said, pretending I hadn’t seen her do what she had done.

Nora bounced off the steps like it was her first Easter. She didn’t care that we were two weeks away. It didn’t matter that the eggs were hollow. The Easter myth is powerful right down to the Easter bunny.

“Papa, I want to hide them now,” she said. “Close your eyes.”

I closed my eyes or sort of closed my eyes because the only thing more fun than an Easter egg hunt is watching a 3-year-old hide them. At first, she gave great thought to placement but when fatigue set in, she started dropping them in bunches in the middle of the lawn as if they weighed 100 pounds each.

Neighborhood gets into Easter spirit

A few days later, Andrew and Lillian, the San Diego grandchildren, came to town and we walked down the street to see the Easter decorations at the old brick house that used to be a boy’s home and now is the law offices of Ira L. Stoker. That’s the sort of name you’d see burned on a shingle in an old western town.

On the way, we stopped at the huge sycamore tree that has a foot-high green door at its base. During Halloween, the little people (elves) lived there but it wasn’t Halloween anymore so they’ve gone where the little people go off season.

In their stead, somebody had filled several of the colored plastic eggs with fruit snacks and when the kids opened the door, it was like a second Easter miracle.

Munching fruit snacks, we walked to Ira L. Stoker’s offices and peered through the wrought-iron fence at the stone pig with a yellow ribbon around its neck, the flock of cement sheep grazing on the green lawn, a wooden Bugs Bunny holding a “Happy Easter” sign, a metal border circling the flowerbeds made of four-inch high yellow chicks, colorful eggs the size of elongated beach balls, and two stone rabbits sitting in pots surrounded by eggs on either side of the steps leading to the front door.

Isn’t it wonderful that for the holidays, people decorate not only for themselves but for public pleasure too? The purity reminds me of jelly beans, white jelly beans in particular. The joy of white jelly beans nestled next to their black brethren.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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