by Pat Nelson The Daily News, Longview, WA
March 21, 3008
reprinted with permissionI was a shy child, but enjoyed reading about other girls’ adventures. Nancy Drew was my favorite. I checked out Nancy Drew books at the library, but bought my own copy of one special volume, The Clue in the Jewel Box.” In this book, Nancy and her friends helped Madame Alexandra locate her missing grandson. The only clue Madame Alexandra provided was a faded photograph of her grandson-prince at age 4. Before Nancy reunited the family in this suspense-filled mystery, she discovered another clue hidden in a beautifully decorated jewel box made from an egg. I imagined that beautiful egg, and held it in my memory as though I had really seen it.About 25 years later, still remembering that beautiful egg, I told my family I would like to start an egg collection. One year when a vendor displayed decorated eggs at Longview’s Triangle Shopping Center, my in-laws gave me my first decorated egg. This goose egg has a hinged lid painted with blue flowers. The lining is lavender velvet, and the egg sits on a golden pedestal. A few months later, on Mother’s Day, my children added to my collection by giving me a pale yellow egg cut to resemble a basket. A yellow ribbon weaves its way around the egg, and a scalloped edge includes tiny heart cutouts. Over the next several years, I added many eggs to my collection. One, a large emu egg, in its natural dark green color, has a hinged lid and is decorated with gold leaves. I call this one my “wedding egg,” as it was used not only for my wedding, but for the weddings of both of my children, to carry the rings. I keep tiny mementos inside: a matchbook from Chapel of the Chimes in Reno where my son was married, and the corsage my mother wore at my daughter’s wedding.My granddaughter Chelsea, now nearly eight, was introduced to my egg collection at about 18 months of age. My niece had just given me a fresh emu egg from her farm. The deep green egg was so beautiful, and I decided I’d rather add it to my collection than eat it. Two neighbors, Jack Lester and Peter Ilyin, offered to drill holes in the egg and clean it out. They said they had a plan.I held baby Chelsea and watched as the two men worked on the egg over the recycle bin in my garage, “just in case.” Jack held the egg and Peter drilled the ends. Next, Peter blew air into the egg with a compressor. Nothing happened. He increased the pressure. Still nothing. As he again increased the pressure, the beautiful shell exploded. I screamed and scared the baby; she cried. Jack got hit with a flying chunk of thick, green eggshell. Peter stood looking at his hands as gooey egg dripped through his fingers and onto recycled newspapers in the can. As Chelsea grew older, she loved the egg collection. At first, I held the eggs and showed her how the lids and doors opened, and wound the music boxes for her. Now that she’s older, she handles the eggs herself. She sits on the floor and carefully takes the eggs out of their display case, one by one. She looks at an egg, and then puts it back and takes out another. As she does, I tell her stories about each one, like the pumpkin-egg, that I saw at an egg show. The egg artist didn’t want to sell the egg. She had covered it with bread dough, baked it, and painted it orange. When its hinged door was opened, a ghost and a tombstone were revealed. I convinced the artist that I would take good care of the pumpkin-egg and she finally agreed to sell it.Chelsea takes the wand out of the quail egg turned perfume bottle and sniffs the perfume still lingering in the bottle. She opens a goose egg and removes a decorated quail’s egg on a gold chain and slips it over her head. She winds the music box of the wedding egg and listens to it play “Edelweiss.”She examines the whimsical eggs purchased several years ago at a Woodland bazaar: a crow with a straw hat, a turkey with feathers, a reindeer with twig antlers.It’s fun to share my egg collection with my Chelsea, and in another couple years, I’ll give her a copy of “The Clue in the Jewel Box.” I didn’t know at the time, but that jeweled egg I read about many years ago provided me with a clue about a special treasure to share with my granddaughter.
by Pat Nelson The Daily News, Longview, WA