Now Let the Day Decline

 

 

 

But hark! the drowsy day has done its task,
Far in yon hazy field where stands a barn,
Unanxious hens improve the sultry hour
And with contented voice now brag their deed—
A new laid egg—Now let the day decline—
They’ll lay another by tomorrow’s sun.
~Henry David Thoreau from “I’m thankful that my life doth not deceive”
We cycle, reassured, from the decline into night, climbing back into day to descend yet again into night,
even at summer-sultry 90+ degrees.
There will be a new sun tomorrow
reddened in the smoky haze of wildfires.
There will be new eggs tomorrow,
bright, clean, fresh, announced by hen-cackle.There will be a tomorrow
and I am thankful.

The Solemnity of Eggs

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And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.
In the robin’s nest there were Eggs and the robin’s mate sat upon them keeping them warm with her feathery little breast and careful wings.
….in the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves—
nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them—
the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs.

If there had been one person in that garden who had not known through all his or her innermost being
that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world would whirl round and crash through space and come to an end—
if there had been even one who did not feel it and act accordingly there could have been no happiness even in that golden springtime air.
But they all knew it and felt it and the robin and his mate knew they knew it.
~Frances Hodgson Burnett from The Secret Garden

 

This is shared in light of the current controversy over the value of the newly formed,
in essence “the Egg”, whether it may be financial or moral,
–  each tiny part of the least of these  –
– whether brain, heart, lungs or liver –
is wonderfully made, whether unwanted or discarded.

The act of creating something so sacred is immense, tender, terrible, beautiful, heart-breaking,
and so very solemn.

The act of hurting this one tiny part of creation hurts the whole world; we risk whirling round and crashing through space
and coming to an end.
~EPG

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An Extra Effort

One of the joys of living on a farm is the ability to walk out the back door and harvest what is needed for a meal right out of the ground, or the orchard, or the berry patch, or from within the hen house. “Eat local” can’t begin to compare with “Eat from the Backyard”.

So over the years on the farm, we’ve raised chickens–starting with the chicks under a hot lamp, watching the growing pullets start laying dainty small eggs which, over several months of hen development, become full size oval jumbo AA eggs, discovered warm in a cozy nest under a hen’s breast. There is distinct satisfaction of a “eureka!” moment anytime a new egg is gathered. It is even more gratifying when the egg is broken in the pan and two yolks pour out instead of one, a symbol of that hen’s extra effort that day.

When our hens were free range, the finding of the nest and gathering of the eggs was definitely a greater challenge than simply opening a chicken coop door. It required investment of time and ingenuity to think like a hen trying to hide her brood. I would remind myself that a hen’s brain is smaller than a walnut and mine is, well…. bigger, so this should not have been such a difficult task.

Our chicken raising days ended abruptly a few years ago when a marauder of some sort dug its way under the wire into the coop in a stealth operation in the dark of night and, leaving only feathers behind, took and stole off with every hen from the roost while she slept. We didn’t have the heart to replace them given the possibility of that happening again, no matter what precautions we took.

So these days our fresh eggs arrive weekly with my husband’s uncle, who graciously shares his plentiful egg crop with us when he comes for Sunday dinner. I do miss the daily egg hunt, the cackle of a hen as she is about to lay, the musical hum she makes when she is happily brooding on the nest, and the feel of her plump fluffiness as I reach underneath her to wrap my hand around that warm smooth oval surface.

It all comes back to me when I break one of those fresh eggs into the pan and it is a double yolker.

Some hen made a special effort, just for me.

Buttercup Bantams bred by Benjamin Janicki at Janicki Buttercups
Buttercup Bantams bred by Benjamin Janicki at Janicki Buttercups