Memories on the Half Shell

On my walk one recent morning I found a thimble-sized half cup of an empty robin’s egg on the sidewalk. Somewhere along the way toward summer each year, I come across one of these fragile blue symbols of motherhood and freedom. Last year I found a small nest tumbled from a tree and now nestle each year’s find into it.

The eggs’ singular color never ceases to amaze me. A blue egg! Say “robin’s egg blue” to anyone and they instantly know what color you mean.

Most years I imagine birdlings breaking free of their eggy confines, wings still damp, feathers stringy and weighted with birth. I envision shells tumbling from the nest in a shower of aqua bits flung hither and yon by the restive babies.

But this year, with my own birdlings flown far and wide, our nest empty and still, I wondered. Maybe the shells weren’t tossed out by the babies. Maybe Mama Robin, the little ones finally launched, did a bit of cleaning herself? Out went the shells. Perhaps she saved a small chip, a microscopic mosaic tile of shell, for memory’s sake. I smiled at the image of Mama nosing the largest pieces over the edge in order to reclaim a bit of nest real estate for herself and the mister. (I hope she saved the baseball cards and a Pound Puppy or two.)

Once things were ship shape again was she pleased? Did the memory of incessant squawking echo off the bent twig walls? Did she miss those mornings spent dangling bits of worm above her trio of hungry beaks? Or long, even momentarily, for the little hills of warm feather beneath her wings? Say “robin’s egg blue” to me this spring and it’s a whole new color.

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3 thoughts on “Memories on the Half Shell

  1. martin

    You always have a different and thought provoking perspective on life. Liked the picture too!

  2. Cindy La Ferle

    Same thing happened to me … A few years years ago, I found an EMPTY nest on our property, just outside our garden gate. It was the same week Nate was leaving for college, and I couldn’t help but feel the metaphor and get a little teary. I brought the nest inside and kept it on my desk for a while… I wrote an essay on this find, last year, which will appear in the Fall 2009 issue of Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion.

  3. debralex

    Send us a link when the essay runs in Home Companion. Funny too that the nest was outside the garden gate. An unintentional symbol??

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