Easter, friends, Jelly Beans

Pull Over.

This morning, at 5:21AM to be exact, the jelly beans got pulled over.

SeaTac airport was quiet, people were orderly, I went to the correct scanner with my fake hip. All was well until I saw my bag drop-kicked out of the conveyer belt and sent to detention. Knitting needles? Never happens. Food? A tidy legitimate turkey wrap in my handbag. Hand cream? Always check that I am under 3oz.

A very serious, perhaps end-of-shift TSA agent was slamming bins into a cart when he saw my small roller and marched — ominously — to my bag, looking neither left or right, while I hopped into my shoes and scuttled to his kiosk.

“Unzipping” he said, not looking at me. I had an urge to laugh.

I tend to run from snow and ice and skiing every year, at least for February and March, to the Pacific Northwest. To each their own and enjoy, but I prefer rain, early daffodils and the cascade of time change that has the migrating song birds shouting outside my window by mid-March at 4:45AM.

Today I head back, for an exciting spring of family events and my late garden, friends and catchups. My bags have less clothes and more thrift finds this time, secured curbside. I am as always sad and excited at the same time.

“Anything sharp’ he continued — not a question.

“I am a knitter” has proven to be the best way to answer this. “Beware of needles” is more informative, but that cheeky humor once incurred a more extensive search than was necessary in a small regional airport. So I keep it simple.

He pulled on blue rubber gloves and began to rummage. Immediately yarn teetered precariously on the edge, an eye crayon threatened to bolt, magazines commenced to slip. Then he pulled out the offender: an unopened, brand new bag of Brach’s black jelly beans.

A tender memory: every spring for the last uncountable years I have returned to the frozen land before Easter and my dear friend across the street has placed a bag on my kitchen island for me, sometimes in a bunny-themed bowl from Marshall’s. After she passed in 2020 I skipped them for a couple of years: as grief goes. When my cousin brought a bag home for me this week I savored the amazing that somehow the memo had been passed on. Thanks, Lou.

So I packed them, in my carry-on no less because jeez, no thanks a sniffer dog grabs and runs with it while inspecting downstairs in baggage transfer.

The agent, not a smile or a chuckle, meticulously massaged the bag — every last jelly bean — through the packaging. He replaced it, zipped (stuffed) the bag together and pushed it across the counter.

I thought: my friend is laughing her pants off somewhere.

What is the simplest, most pleasurable act you can do today, for you and for another?

It’s the tiny big things.

Easter, Father, flowers, Hyacinth, Memoir

Love, Delivered.

Funny what starts a trigger. For me, it is hyacinth.

My first: delivered to the back steps of my childhood home on a snowy Connecticut March day, the potted bulb cradled in pink foil tied with a white bow, buds tightly closed on verdant green stalks leaning bravely into the winter wind. Tucked between the stems, a minuscule florist envelope, the card reading From the E. Bunny penned in my father’s funny half-script-half-print, signed off with his signature smiley face adorned with a small squiggle of hair. Oh, Dad. I felt so grown up I thought I would burst.

And a few days later, as the centerpiece on the Easter dinner table, the flowers opened to bundles of lilac blossoms, the fragrance — mingled with lamb, mint jelly, roasted potatoes — imprinted on me forever. My first, of almost forty, potted hyacinth delivered by florists to my door over the next four decades, whether my dining table was in Connecticut, Seattle, San Francisco, or later, Boston.

My father died in March, 2011. I held his hand those final days and rambled on about all the things I could and would remember about him and us, thanked him for so many things, even got a faint smile once or twice. But I forgot the flowers. When Easter came a few weeks later there were lilies on my table. My doorbell didn’t ring. I lost him all over again: it’s the little things that can hurt the most.

Spring is here in Seattle, the bulbs are bursting. Walking a neighbor’s puppy this afternoon we chanced upon a garden flocked with those white, pink, purple spring bulbs. The fragrance staggered me and left me breathless. All those memories firing and triggering and my heart bleeding just a little. Did he realize that eight years after he died I would still half-anticipate the doorbell, a florist delivery person standing on the step holding a foil wrapped pot? That I would miss seeing the lopsided grin of his silly squiggle person on those cards? That just a tiny whiff of the blossom would make me cry? I will never know what made him begin that tradition. I do know that at Easter I miss him the most.

As a parent I often reevaluate before the holidays and think well the kids are grownups now, they can’t possibly care about this tradition anymore. Then I remember his simple gesture, repeated over and over; the pink foil, the little skip of joy in my chest, the smell of a hyacinth bursting from the bulb. How it felt to have a father.

We are never too young, or too grown up, for love to be delivered, in any way.


 Kingsland Kitchen, Portland, Oregon