Thrill of the hunt

Bryhanna Greenough goes all Easter bunny on us.

My mom used to buy the grocery store Easter egg kits with wire egg holders, little stickers and packets of dye. My younger brother and I would dutifully mark the shells with wax crayon and then plunge them into electric, coloured baths. We didn’t do much with the eggs. They usually just ended up back in the fridge until Easter had come and gone.

Even the Easter Bunny didn’t seem to want them.

I remember one year, though, when I was around seven, my brother and I got an invitation for an Easter Egg hunt. I remember the card quite well. A photo of a twitchy-nosed rabbit was sitting upright on his haunches in a land of plenty. Eggs were glistening with sugar, and chocolate eggs were overflowing from the basket! This image of decadence stuck in my kid mind like glue.

At the party we started with some arts & crafts. We decorated paper plates into big-eared bunny masks banded with elasticized string. We were getting rocked on apple juice while our parents stood at the sidelines. It seemed like half the kids in the neighbourhood showed up and I remember kids going berserk with anticipation. Some kids were already looking.

Finally, the entire gaggle of kids —half-blind in bunny masks—were led out to the backyard where they were told to line up. We were given baskets stuffed with twirly ribbon and were told we had to hop to find the eggs. It was not long that most of us abandoned the hopping once the hunt began.

Like a pack of locusts we swarmed the yard searching tree branches, flower pots and drain pipes for treats. The competition was fierce. I remember my little brother bawling his eyes out at some point when an older kid got to an egg first.

I remember passing on the hard-boiled ones, only caring about the candy. Within a few short minutes the yard was picked clean and my basket was full of booty. My brother came back with one or two hardboiled eggs. It was awesome!

I think maybe it’s time to relive that feeling.

An online community—­newmindspace.com—has recently reformatted the traditional Easter Egg hunt. You might have heard of them before. They’re the folks behind the big city pillow fights in pyjamas and the Dr. Seuss-themed subway car parties. Well, they’re now busy organizing the third annual massive urban Easter Egg hunt in Toronto’s Kensington Market. How it works: interested participants hook up online then meet at an egg stuffing party. Personalized messages are inserted into thousands of those plastic vending machine eggs that pop apart. On Easter morning, before sunrise, some decorate Kensington Market with chalk drawings while others “lay” eggs on window sills, street signs and anywhere random strangers could find them.

Reading the message board, some eggs get smashed and I suspect some people pigged out during the hunt, leaving very little for latecomers. But that’s part of it too, as I learned pretty quickly at my first Easter Egg hunt.

I got to thinking that downtown St. John’s is the perfect setting for a large-scale egg hunt. Brightly coloured eggs peaking out from the city’s nooks and crannies would be a welcome surprise after the bleak dark days we’ve gotten accustomed to over the past few months. And why not play in our city? We live here, don’t we?

Inspired by the Toronto group, early on Easter Sunday I plan on laying a few eggs around St. John’s, and I invite you to as well.

Plastic eggs don’t really jive with me, so I plan on using eggs from my fridge. The first step is to make a hole in each end of the egg using a needle. Then you can delight in blowing the raw egg goo out the hole. I’ll likely bypass the chemical dyes and improvise with things around the house. Tumeric, cumin, red cabbage—even yellow onion skins can be used to tint the shell. Just let each ingredient steep in some hot water. After it cools down a bit, add a spoonful of vinegar and then the eggs. Grape and beet juice can be used cold. These colours will be subtle, but the effect may be just as surprising for the people who notice them.

If you like, slip a little note inside one of the egg’s holes. A fortune cookie message, a piece of poetry, a memory, a single word… the possibilities are endless. Plant your eggs where others will find them if they look in the right spot on their Sunday walk about town. Find a place to sit, lean back, and watch it all unfold.

Illustration by Kira Sheppard