My chickens are eggers. They laid all winter long without a molting break. When they were chicks I looked forward to the first pullet eggs. At first I marveled at their ovoid offerings. I held them up on the way back from the barn as if to show them to Jesus. It wasn’t very long, though, before I got used to gathering eggs from each nest and pocketing them routinely.
Then there were too many of them. I made egg salad, angel food cake, and pound cake; took cartons of extras to church. Quiche? I wasn’t sure I liked it but we were about to find out.
I remember getting my first chickens, when an egg still seemed like a miracle. I’d waited longer than the book said for that year’s pullets to produce one and finally—finally—one of them did. I picked it up. Rolled it in the palm of my hand. Appreciated it as I have never appreciated an egg before or since. On my way to the human house from the henhouse, something distracted me. I don’t remember the nature of the distraction - something is pretty much always distracting me. I believe it involved getting something out of my car because I remember carefully setting the egg down so I could open the car door. When I stepped back to slam the door, I felt the precious pullet egg crunch under the sole of my shoe.
Just like that, it was ruined. Yolk smashed, its transparent white made visible by the specks of dirt coating it like pepper. I may have screamed but no one would have heard me. Yes, I cried, even though I was a longtime neonatal nurse and knew the worth of tears. And how little they can change.
Even though I didn’t have that egg for long, remembering it changed my attitude again. Whether I have to give away extras or can’t find enough to make pancakes, I notice eggs more. I reach into the nest and feel the smooth curves of them before sliding them into my pockets.
Even when I don’t crush them, they’re temporary. Here for a while, destined to become part of a cake, two deviled eggs or a hard-boiled protein in my husband’s lunch.
A part of the everyday but never ordinary.
Each as much a miracle as that long-ago pullet egg -
Potential in the palm of my hand.