This season and this week is always one of the magical times. The reasons are quite specific. When I was a child, my parents attended a church that was then (before being ruined by “modernization”) incredibly beautiful, covered with rosemaling on the huge hammer beams, with elegant windows. At the Easter season, the men of the congregation provided a “Sunrise Breakfast” on Easter Sunday. It was fairly plain — scrambled eggs and sausages, with lots of that weak coffee that frugal Norwegians settled for.
My father and I were the only “morning” members of the family. It is like a disease, no other explanation for waking at 5:00 or 6:00 ready to start the day. The other three members of the family preferred to sleep until as late as 8.
So Jack and I dressed and headed out right away. We got to see the first glimmer of sun, to watch the colors shift, then we ate our breakfast and drove to one of the glacial moraines just off highway 19 near Stanton. From the top we could see for miles, as the low-lying fog wisped itself away.
When we returned, the rest of the family was just beginning to stir, and we felt vastly superior for having been up and about, and now ready for a little sit-down.
This idyllic morning ritual, lived out perhaps 8 or 10 times in my young life, built a strong bond. I treasure it still. At the same time I am much clearer now about the fact that for my father, this was a reversion to his own childhood memories, which had few such moments or habits. I also came to understand that his skill at setting me out as special created a kind of competition among the children, and he enjoyed watching that.
When at last he died, still trying to tighten the ties and the competition, he was surrounded less by his children than by his wide acquaintance in the town, many showing up with his favorite doughnuts, or other foods he asked for, long after he became unable to eat or even take water.
The images in my memory, of sunrises, shining faces of men in aprons, of tiptoeing quietly out so as not to wake the others, will always leap up on this Spring day, so full of meaning in so many places; surely one of the most consistent northern times set aside to celebrate the religious and the pagan. I am so very grateful for the memory, and also grateful to at last have come to understand my father a bit, and perhaps forgive his actions in his panic at the imminence of death.