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Monday, March 29, 2010

Precisions of the Season


Make no mistake, they are precisely wrought. One is of dried grass, woven ‘round and ‘round into a neat, compact, cup shape. The center depression is lined with short, fine, white hairs - perhaps from some neighboring dog or goat. The second is more raggedy, made of small twigs, dry plant stems, fine pieces of bark, and a couple of strands of yarn. Its center hole is lined also, with what seems to be wool, dryer lint, or insulation and some grey, downy feathers. I have nestled them into small baskets for safe keeping, bringing them out of storage each spring as a reminder of the wonders of this season.

The raggedy one contains its original 5 small eggs. I committed no crime against nature, here. My sister, finding the nest abandoned and knowing of my passion for wild things, offered it to me - eggs & all. We carefully carried it all the way back from Montana that summer.

I gingerly remove one of the eggs and set it on the table. Smooth and white, with a spattering of dark speckles at the wider end, it tapers down at the other. As I tap it gently, one reason for its shape becomes clear. It spins where it lies. Eggs of cliff-nesting birds are more tapered still and, if jostled, roll in a circle - no chance of rolling off. Perfect design.

The shell in the other nest does not belong there, I just put it in for display. Sky-blue, it is obviously a robin’s, but the nest is much too small for that bird. Even now, after several years, the two pieces remain mostly intact, held together by a tough inner membrane. With more than one layer, an egg shell offers “flow-through” support and protection to the precious life inside. I found this shell on the ground, where the mother had dropped it after her young had hatched, for it was no longer needed.

Once we had a pair of geese. The female laid eggs, but she was a confused mother. She laid so many, that when she finally decided to set there was no way she could cover them all. She tried, warming & turning the eggs for weeks on end, but hatching none. Finally, I shooed her off and threw the rotten eggs at tree trunks faaaaaaar away from the house. Each one exploded loudly as it hit its mark.

My solution was to buy an incubator, collect the next eggs, & become a surrogate “mother goose”. Being one takes time & commitment. The eggs need to be kept at a certain temperature and humidity, turned several times a day, & “candled” to be sure they are developing. We used a strong flashlight for the candling and how exciting it was to watch the embryos develop from tiny red spots to turning, squirming nearly full-grown goslings! Hatching time arrived right on schedule & we kept close watch as each tiny babe used its egg tooth to peck a hole, then laboriously peck around the shell until it was finally free. New life rested near cast-off shells.

And so I keep these nests, and others like them - reminders, precisely wrought.

Therefore, if any one is in Christ,

he is a new creation;
the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
All this is from God...
2 Corinthians 5.17-18

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