Seems to me like yesterday;—
Walkin’ down the beaten path,
Where the autumn aftermath
Glistened with the April wet.
Tryin’ to look green and yet
Kind of limp and lonesome lay,
Gettin' long toward Easter time;
Days the city folks calls Lent,—
Little that we cared or spent
What they called it, prose or rhyme,
More than twenty years ago.—
Me and my old playmate Joe;
Back in dear old Yucatan
Township, where Root River ran.
What we cared fur was the wood
Filled with flowing maple sap.
And the bluff above the gap
Where the Mississippi’s flood,—
Floating many a steamboat craft,
Many a Chippewa forest raft,—
Met our boyish gaze and curled
Round the bend into the world.
Then the mill—pond and the dam
Spearing red horse in the race;
And below our swimming-place
Was a cave where Turkey Sam
Shot and killed a hungry bear—
Oftentimes we’d go and peer
In about the rocks and stones
Looking for dead Injuns’ bones
While our hearts felt awful queer.
But about them Easter eggs—
We had fixed it—Joe and I—
Talked it over on the sly.
Makin’ tops and mumble-pegs;
Playin’ marble and high spy; —
Next time Easter day come round
We would know where eggs was found;
Many a jocund, boyish boast.
‘Bout the eggs wed have to roast
Over in the poplar grove
Just this side of Knox’s cove—
Then there’d be a ‘big surprise;—
When we’d from our hidden store
Bring our Easter eggs galore
How the folks would bug their eyes!
I remember ‘long in March,
Mild and early was the spring.
Say, how them old hens did sing!
How the folks for eggs would search.
Mother couldn’t understand—
Fed ‘em table scraps and meat—
Combs was red and slick and neat.
Cackle, and they’d kick the sand
Through their feathers with their feet.
Joe and I—we understood,—
Playin’ ‘round the old barnyard,
Watched them old hens weasel hard
Tryin' to hide away and brood
Every secret cleft and nook,—
Underneath the horses’ stall,
High up on the smoke house wall.
Knowed ‘em better than a book;—
Out beside the pile o' rails,
in the tool house by the nails,—
Where a hen could crawl or fly,
We went after,— Joe and I.
Then to make a hiding place,
In the corner of a stack,
Lay a weatherbeaten rack—
Crawled beneath it on our face
With a forked, crooked pole
Worked and twisted through the straw,
Roughest work I ever saw;
Made a long and narrow hole,
Then by twisting round and round.
Dug a nest close to the ground.
In it went our Easter eggs:
Many a time I hurt my back
Skoochin’ under that old rack.
Rusty nails would scratch my legs—
Still, as Easter time drew nigh,
Poked ‘em in there on the sly;—
One thing troubled us—old Nig
Our old Spanish topknot hen,
Disappeared, we couldn’t find,
Not a feather left behind
Just to show where she had been.
Last our Easter Sunday came—
Seems to me like yesterday,
In that old familiar path
With the autumn aftermath
Lying round like locks of hay:—
All the cast was clouds of flame
Like that early Easter morn
When the Son, of woman born,
Rose and rolled the stone away.—
Bright and early did we creep
Underneath that beaten rack,
Scratched our legs and punched our back,
Reached in for them eggs, when "cheep,"
"Cheep, cheep, cheep" and "cluck, cluck, cluck"
And Joe says "Dog on our luck,
"Ef it haint that old black hen,
"Ef she ain’t a’gone and ben
"Just a settin’ with her legs
"Straddled on our Easter eggs,
An’ what’s more—it beats the dickens
"Half them Easter eggs is chickens."