Janet Sheridan: A mania for eggs
The Saturday before Easter, West Mountain near Utah Lake teemed with youngsters shrieking and throwing hard-boiled eggs at one another. We told our parents we wanted lots of dyed eggs.
We said we would race them, hide them, even eat them, and intended to do so; but every year we yielded to temptation and hurled them at one another’s heads.
I grew up assuming children everywhere scrubbed eggshells and bits of yolk from their hair in preparation for Easter services. Now, I realize that maiming one another with decorated eggs was an aberrant Lake Shore custom.
We interrupted our melee only for lunch.
Baloney sandwiches and carrot sticks remained untouched while we gorged on chocolate eggs, jellybeans and yellow marshmallow chickens — best eaten by stretching the head away from the body with your teeth until the neck snapped.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Soon, a group of boys would race by, lobbing eggs, and the battle began anew. I’ve never forgotten the satisfaction of throwing a solid hit that splatted into the forehead of Justin Nelson, the neighborhood bully, and then outrunning him down the mountain.
I’ve been fond of the feel of eggs in my hand since. I even collect them.
Forty-one years ago, I stood before a stall in a busy market outside Rome and picked up an egg made of marble.
It rolled into my palm, a perfect fit: cool to the touch and smooth with a satisfying heft that could have done real damage to Justin. Irregular splotches of milky white floated on its deep gray surface like clouds preparing the way for thunder in a dark sky. I liked it. I bought it.
Back home, the egg sat on a sunny windowsill where it retained its slick coolness. I decided to look for more eggs to group with it.
With that thought, I became a collector.
I had started collections in the past. I once taped pennies to a sheet of construction paper where I’d scrawled the dates from 1930 to the current year, 1950. I had five pennies stuck to the sheet when I lost interest. Eventually, I pried them off to buy some wax candy lips that I wore home on the bus before chewing them as an appetizer before dinner.
My next idea was to eat, list and rate 100 different ice cream flavors before I turned 12. This collection never had a chance.
The most exotic flavor available to a child living on a remote farm was Neapolitan with its strips of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. I cheated by listing all three flavors separately, but my collection grew as slowly as my manners. I soon gave up.
Then I purchased the marble egg in Italy.
Over the years, my collection expanded and diversified: egg cups, egg scissors, wooden eggs and crystal eggs; natural eggs gilded, enameled, painted, crocheted and feathered. A thunder egg given me by a student; an ostrich egg purchased at a garage sale; a glass egg filled with Mt. St. Helen’s ash.
Friends and relatives became comics when viewing my collection. They wondered if I was an “eggs”pert yet, and whether my pursuit might be a bit “egg”cessive. What was the “eggs”act number in my collection? Wasn’t I “eggs”hausted from my endeavors?
I haven’t added to my collection in years, and others seem to have forgotten my interest, as well. I don’t remind them.
But often when I wander by the china closet where it is displayed — and seldom dusted — I reach out. And it is usually the gray-hued egg from Italy that rests in my palm. I like how it feels. And I remember West Mountain.
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