Archive for April, 2013

Washing Eggs

When she is leaning at the kitchen sink to wash eggs, the water is pouring constantly. She thinks of the barn in Salisbury, of the roosting boxes and the sheep, and now how its roofline sags. It won’t be long before she drives by and sees that it has gone the way of so many barns: slumped to the ground under the weight of neglect. They were always made to shower or bathe after being in the barn, their parents so untrusting of the poop and the animals and the dust in the air. Now she watches a small bit of poop on an egg, that way it sloughs off into the sink carrying hay and feathers with it.

The eggs make her yearn for summer and the stressful Friday mornings preparing for the farmers’ market. Anything to take her out of this winter that won’t release its grip, this early-April lingering of bitter wind and an insatiable woodstove.  Standing there washing at the sink makes her crave open windows, the birds loud outside, louder than the wind. She dreams of her bare feet on this plywood floor that is impossible to make decent, warm air pushing through the house instead of the stale cold that rises up from the basement. In the summer it is so easy to ignore the haphazardness of this place.

The eggs are pleasing, in their blue and white and brown. They are the simplest of all the foods that they can provide for themselves on the farm. Each time she leans at the sink to wash a batch of them, she is grateful for having settled here, if only for a little while. How viscerally satisfying it is to bring these things into the kitchen: the eggs, the milk from a neighbor, the tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes, kale, the parsley and thyme, the chicken and pork chops, the squash and garlic and beets.

The double aluminum sink makes her think of the kitchen in Salisbury, and the small sink in the corner that looked out the window onto the deck. She remembers the delight of opening it wide in the summertime, of her brother leaning in from outside to order take-out. The faucet of that sink curved like the elegant neck of a swan, and she remembers returning home from vacations and letting the water run so cold that faucet turned smoky with condensation. They would gulp the icy well water, brought up from deep in the ground, and remark at the good fortune of living in the country.

The smoothness of the eggs is irresistible. She handles each one carefully, picking it gently from the belly of the sink and turning it slowly beneath the running water. The shells are speckled, blue, turquoise, deep brown and clean white. Some are small, from the new pullets that just started to lay an egg a day. Some are massive, with shells that warp and bulge, laid by the oldest hens.

Washing eggs this morning makes her think of the corners of wheat toast dipped in yolks. There was a time in her childhood when she relished this breakfast: the beautiful, delicate skin to easily break open, the bright yellow, the sogginess of the bread. She remembers sitting at a kitchen stool in her thin cotton nightgown, because in the summer it is already so warm in the morning, and scraping the yolks out of that perfect circle of white. A full moon on her plate.

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