The Shawnee News-Star Weekender April 11th 2020 Becky Emerson Carlberg The wild April weather continues.  Hope you haven't put up your coats and gloves yet!  The Easter Bunny will be wearing woolies this year during the overnight egg delivery.  Rest assured each and every egg has been sanitized. The coronavirus continues to make headlines as […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender April 11th 2020

Long Time in dye solutions

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The wild April weather continues.  Hope you haven't put up your coats and glovesyet!  The Easter Bunny will be wearingwoolies this year during the overnight egg delivery.  Rest assured each and every egg has beensanitized.

The coronavirus continues to make headlines as it plowsthrough the global population.  Over 30companies are working on Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccine process hasbeen accelerated since the Covid-19 genetic sequence and viral protein codescan be determined much faster.  Vaccine development normally takes10 to 15 years.  Lengthier clinicaltrials must be done to catch all side effects. Anti-malarial drugs can damage the retina and heart. Check what happenedwhen thalidomide was not rigorously tested before being presented to the publicin the 1950's.  

Don't blame the animals involved in epic epidemics (bats, chimps, birds, rodents).   They also have their share of infectious organisms.   All us warm-blooded animals have warm, culture media circulating through our bodies.   What helped the contagious agents jump from the furry and feathered creatures into we sleeker bipedal humans?   Karin Brulliard, writer for The Washington Post, writes that global wildlife trade, deforestation, urbanization and intense agricultural farming practices have aided the transfer of pathogens to people which, in a matter of hours, are transported around the world via jet. People still get very sick or die from West Nile Virus identified in East Africa in 1937 which crossed into the US in 1999 and tick-borne diseases (16 and counting) that are increasing throughout the warming world.   Keep in mind most tick and mosquito bites are harmless and irritating, but if you are one of the unlucky.

Flowering Grasses (Yes, even grasses have flowers)

Epidemiologists look for hot spots with three things incommon:  lots of people, diverse wildlifecommunities and fast changing environments. Carving holes or removing forested areas in the US cuts the number ofpredators that eat mice carrying ticks which harbor Lyme or other tickdiseases.  No vaccine.  Clearing Malaysian rainforests displaced fruitbats which found new homes in modern pig farms where mango and other fruittrees still grew.  Pigs became infectedwith Nipah virus which soon leapt into humans. Killing outbreaks still go on in south Asia.  No vaccine.

The upshot is to keep ecosystems intact and not destroy them.  This will require cultural shifts in manycountries.  Our world now contains nearly8 billion humans who are 99.9% identical in their genetic makeup.  One novel pathogen could wipe most of us allaway.

Why not hedge your bets and redesign or extend your little ecosystems(yards) to be friendlier to wildlife? Set aside areas for native plants and animals.  Restore the balance of nature.  Keep the trees.  Reduce the area you mow which lowers fossilfuel use.  Look at how many springtimetrees and plants are now in bloom!

No time to enjoy nature, judging from the plethora of large, zero-turn type mowers roaring around the area.   People seem to have an abundance of money but are blind to nature's vitality, importance and beauty.  

Flowering Dogwood

Think of the Easter bunny. The cottontail needs native grasses, flowers and trees for places whereit can hide itself as well as Easter eggs. My son's 12-year-old 'sight-impaired but still loves to run and chase'Labrador recently had his way with a baby bunny.  It obviously needed more cover (taller bunch grasses,small native trees, a blackberry bush or two) within the well-manicuredyard.  Risky business being an Easterbunny in many neighborhoods.

My family celebrates Easter with Easter baskets loaded withcandy and Peeps, chocolate bunnies and hot cross buns, if we can find them.  Easter meal may take on a picnic atmospherewith potato salad, steamed asparagus, cooked ham and a coconut bunny cake. 

Hard-boiled eggs, dyed the night before (along with the counter and dipping cups), become the centerpiece until time for the Easter Egg hunt.   They are hidden, indoors or out, for anyone to find and claim. Their final destiny is to be eaten, turn into devils or become egg salad.  


The egg symbolizes fertility and the circle of life.  Watch a little bird peck its way out of anegg.  Truly miraculous.  Even today people give decorated eggs asgifts.  The eggs are carefully covered indelicate patterns drawn with wax or wrapped twine and dipped in vegetable dyes.Purple cabbage"blue, red onion skins"red, yellow onion skins"orange, and beets"pink.

In Germany the egg contents were blown out through smallholes, egg shells decorated and hung on trees during the week of Easter,similar to Christmas trees. In Egypt, boiled and dyed eggs are lined up and usedas bowling pins.  Egg tapping is done ineastern Europe.  Each person holds acooked dyed egg.  Eggs are 'tapped'together.  The one that cracks loses.andprobably eaten.

In the United Kingdom, just before Easter, eggs wrapped in onion skins and boiled to give them a mottled golden color were rolled down grassy hillsides. For hundreds of years 'pace-egging' contests took place in many areas.   Unbroken eggs were then eaten on Easter Sunday.   An old legend is if the eggs were cracked, the shells should be carefully crushed lest fairies find the broken shells and use them as boats.  

Dewberry with fringed Puccoon

The Easter Egg Roll at the White House began in 1814.  Dolly Madison, wife of President JamesMadison, started the egg rolling.  Shehad children bring decorated eggs to roll and play games Easter Monday or GoodFriday on White House grounds.  Long-handledspoons were used to propel the eggs along. The White House Egg Roll continued and by the 1870's it had become verypopular. 

After an energetic egg rolling event in 1876, which somewhat tore up the lawn, Congress passed a bill forbidding egg-rolling.  The White House South Lawn was not a children's playground.   In 1878, a group of children, including President Rutherford Hayes own kids, came to the White House gate and asked if they could roll eggs. President Hayes told the guards to let them enter.   The egg-rolling custom was soon reinstated.   In 1939 so many people were coming the number of guests had to be curtailed.   In 1981, beginning with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Pat, signed wooden eggs were given to each child under the age of 12 as they exited South Lawn gates.

Easter cat thinking about revenge

The First Lady is in charge of the annual tradition. Unfortunately,this year the White House egg-rolling has been cancelled due to Covid-19.  Not the first time. In 1918-1920 it was stoppedbecause of Spanish flu, in 1943-1945 due to WWII, 1946-1947 for foodconservation and 1948-1952 when the White House was renovated. 

Do not despair.  TheNew Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, considers the Easter Bunny anessential worker and thus, exempt from the shelter-in-place requirements!  There should be plenty of eggs this year foreveryone!