This morning I blew out Ginny’s first egg to preserve the shell. It’s a ritual I’ve observed with each hen since my first flock began laying in 2001, though I had to order a special little gizmo from Germany to get the job done. Although their color has become faded and unnatural, I still keep those hollow eggs in my kitchen, tucked in a retro cardboard carton with a note to remind me of why they matter.
And they do, if only to me. Those eggs are akin to bronzed baby shoes or old photos, tangible mementos of a time I want to remember. The flock who laid them is long gone, as is most of what surrounded me as they grew from chicks to hens: the job, the lover, and even how I lived, then, in a younger body and mind. But the ghost of that time is fixed forever in these objects I can see and touch.
Change is rarely easy for humans, though it is harder for some than others. I am a hanger-on, which means that artifacts like my hens’ first eggs are a mixed blessing, evoking a sweet nostalgia but also a deep melancholy. I should probably throw them away in a ceremonial acknowledgment of the fleeting nature of all things, and the futility of trying to preserve symbolically what is always and ever changing and passing away. That would make me a better Buddhist.
I suspect though, that I’ll stay an average human, gathering and carefully preserving each of this flock’s first eggs as I did the others, so many years ago. Holding on.