I can't remember how many years its been now since we've gathered at our friends farm for Eastover, as it's called, with an always-growing crowd - of friends, friends that are more like family, and always so many bright new faces too. I'm fairly certain I've been there pregnant, or with a newish baby - so it's been a little while, at least. At any rate, over those years, it is the tradition that has evolved for my little family, and the Easter memories and rituals that my children all associate with the day and the season. We've been there on cold, windy, rainy days - when we huddle around fires or gather in the barn with heaters on, adding another layer of wool, snuggling into one another to keep the chill off. And more often than not - as luck has often been - I remember getting a little pink on the cheeks on this day, for the long day in the warm sun, but so early in the season that we aren't quite ready for it with sunscreen and sun hats at the ready. This year was that and then some - a record eighty degree day in Southern Maine and it was everything I love about this particular celebration of the changing season and of community, and all the elements of rebirth and life that come with it. Our kids, Steve and I keep observing, are more and more independent all the time and these kinds of gatherings only get easier, quieter, and slower in a way, as the not-so-little ones are off on their own, with their own people, needing less of us. And the littlest, the most independent of all, tags along so happily, or entertains herself, or finds another adult that she's excited to fill with her stories. They pop in from time to time, sit a spell on a lap, but mostly - they're doing just the very same thing we are. Stretching their arms and legs, spreading out into the warm spring air, and connecting with people they love, friends they don't see as often as they'd like, and sometimes (always) meeting new ones too.
Adelaide made French Mint Macarons for her contribution to the gathering, which was an ambitious project I was a little bit wary of. But she did it - she totally rocked it. A few rounds of practice in the week prior, and then she nailed the ruffled edges and the careful weighing of flour and sugar (something her Mama is not very inclined to do - what a different baker she is than I!). She is always excited to talk baking techniques to a knowing adult, and she certainly had her chance and did so comfortably - with maturity, I might say - at this gathering of farm and food lovers. But then, just as smoothly, I'd see her run off, skipping with her best friend, playing in the woods like the children they still are.
They're growing up, these babies of ours. And on days like yesterday, standing in the cold water catching up with friends, and feeling oh-so-alive and present in the spring's first sunshine, I felt so full of gratitude for the traditions and rituals we share together, and the moment of pause and reflection they provide us with through all the stages of our lives.
And oh....welcome, Spring!