The uncles were in charge of hiding Easter eggs at my grandmother’s house on the outskirts of Macon, Georgia. On the Caldwell side, there was my dad, Uncle Neil, Uncle Yancy, Aunt Beverly’s husband, George, and Granddaddy Caldwell. When we were younger, I’m sure they didn’t “hide” the eggs so much as place them beneath a flower petal or beside the pole of the clothesline out back.
Later, when the holly bushes were planted to stand sentry around the wide concrete porch, the uncles would place a few eggs behind their prickly leaves so that only the bravest of the cousins would reach them.
It was a well-used porch, with metal chairs and gliders added as the number of grandchildren grew. We spent so many afternoons there on our visits with Grandmother Caldwell, hating to be inside the small house when there was a huge, sunny lawn before us, waiting to leave us with itchy backs and grass-stained knees.
That porch and yard framed the Easters of my youth. The lawn sloped toward a wooded area dotted with azaleas growing as much as six feet high. They were beautiful when in bloom, forming a wall of brilliant whites, pinks, reds and purples.
The eggs for which we hunted were not plastic and filled with candy, but boiled ones dyed by each family the day before and brought to Grandmother’s by the dozens. The cousins, six of us at that time, arrived with the baskets the Easter bunny had left at our houses that morning, filled with shredded paper grass, candy eggs with hard coatings, and at least one chocolate bunny, always eaten ears-first.
But at Grandmother’s, the dinner spread was better than any candy: Ham, dressing, sweet potato casserole, butter beans, field peas, fresh creamed corn, collard greens, cornbread, rolls, banana pudding, lemon cake, coconut cake, chocolate and lemon pies. Although we children we always ready to hunt for eggs right after the meal, our uncles, unsurprisingly, needed to sit on the porch, feet outstretched, hands resting on bloated bellies, and let dinner settle for at least an hour before our begging finally brought them to their feet. Then we were relegated to the house to wait, away from the windows, while the eggs were hidden.
Finally, we were unleashed to crawl under bushes and look in the knots of trees while our uncles, bemused, gave hints from their porch perches or sometimes held us up so we could see an egg nestled in the crook of a tree limb.
Before long, all the eggs would be recovered, with a few exceptions. Those were the ones we’d find, shells crushed and innards rotting, during a summer game of hide-and-seek.