A Most Peculiar Shade of Green (An Easter Story)
by LeAnn R. Ralph
Rural Route 2
© LeAnn R. Ralph 2004
It was a Sunday afternoon one year when I was a kid — the week before Easter, in fact — and I was "bored."
Of course I knew better than to say I was bored, because then my mother would find something for me to do.
Well, all right, I did know of something fun to do, except we didn't have the proper materials.
I heaved a deep sigh and flopped back against the couch.
"What's the matter with you?" asked my big sister, Loretta, looking up from the magazine she was reading.
"Easter is next weekend, and I want to make Easter eggs," I said.
Loretta smiled. "Good idea. I was looking for something to do myself."
"But," I said, "we can't make Easter eggs."
I shook my head. "We don't have one of those coloring kits. And if we don't have a kit, how are we going dye eggs?"
After all, every year that I could remember before this, we had always used one of those Paas Easter Egg kits.
As I watched my sister's face, I could see she was trying very hard not to smile.
"What’s so funny?" I asked indignantly.
"We don’t need a kit."
My sister closed her magazine and went out to the kitchen -- with me right on her heels, naturally. She opened the cupboard where the baking supplies were stored and pushed aside salt, soda and vanilla, until finally she located a small box.
"We can use this," she said.
I stared at the box for a moment. "Ummm…we're not going to put frosting on our Easter eggs, are we?" (That's what food coloring is for, isn't it? To make frosting?)
My stomach did a little flip-flop at the very thought of powdered sugar frosting on hard-boiled eggs.
By the look on Loretta's face, I could tell that the idea of powdered sugar frosting on eggs made her stomach do a little flip-flop, too.
"No, of COURSE we're not going to put frosting on eggs," she said. "We're going to use this to color the eggs."
"But I thought we needed one of those kits," I said.
Loretta turned the back of the box toward me and pointed to three little words —
"For Coloring Eggs."
Three other words stood out, too — "Color Blending Chart."
"Wait a minute," I said, taking the box from my sister. "Does that mean we can make OTHER colors."
Loretta nodded. "Sure does."
Besides green, yellow, red and blue, I saw that we could make purple, orange, turquoise, toast, violet, and. . .something I couldn't pronounce.
I didn't care for the idea of toast-colored eggs, but…"What's char…charter—"
Loretta took the box from me. "Chartreuse."
"Kind of greenish-yellow, I think."
Hmmm--greenish-yellow. . .
"Tell you what," Loretta said. "Let's make up a batch of the four basic colors, do some of the eggs, and then we can add the other colors and do the rest. That way, we won't waste any of the food coloring."
Which is what we did after we had cooked a dozen eggs and then let them cool off.
Finally we were ready to start making the other colors, and I could scarcely wait to see what chartreuse looked like. It sounded so different. So exotic. MUCH more interesting than just plain old green or yellow.
I quickly added the proper amount of yellow to the green, and in a couple of minutes, there was our chartreuse egg.
I looked at Loretta and she looked at me.
The egg was DEFINITELY greenish-yellow.
But there was something else about it, too, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. . .
Dad could, though.
"What kind of a color do you call that?" he asked. He had the same look on his face that Loretta had gotten when I mentioned putting powered sugar frosting on hard boiled eggs.
"Chartreuse," Loretta said.
Dad shook his head. "That's an awful fancy name. I'd call it. . .well . . .I don't know what I'd call it, but you know how the barnyard always stays wet in that corner by the milkhouse during the summer?"
And right then and there, it hit me. The egg WAS the peculiar greenish-yellowish of the algae that grew in the barnyard mud. (Which, I might add, also turned the dairy cows' ankles a sickly green when they'd been standing around in it.)
Well, okay, so maybe chartreuse hadn't turned out to be the greatest color for Easter eggs, but at least I could say one thing--
I wasn't bored anymore.
LeAnn R. Ralph is the author of the book, Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm). You are invited to "share the view with a book from Rural Route 2" and to sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Rural Route 2 News —
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