I pulled the photo album from the shelf, the binder bulging from photos and story. I flipped through the black and white pages of faces unknown and known.
- Of Mom and her siblings on the front steps of a South Dakota farmhouse.
- Of elementary-age Mom with dark hair between her blonde-haired sisters, Sylvia and Joyce.
- Of mom as a teenager dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, next to her brother, Glenn, helping their dad with the haying on their 480 acres.
I turned pages until I came to a section of memories my mom had written before her death four years ago.
Her history. Her story.
A tale about eggs.
“Eggs were a year-round cash crop for the family,” Mom had written. “Many chickens were raised and eggs needed to be picked daily. Evening after evening Lillian (my grandmother) would sit in the kitchen and wash more than 200 eggs. If she missed a few days, she could have 1000 eggs to deal with.”
Every night my grandmother washed eggs. After the laundry with a wringer washer. After feeding grandpa and eight of the twelve children that were still at home. After the dishes in the small, white ceramic sink. After mopping the floor from the muddy footprints of twenty feet. After prayers and tucking into two bedrooms.
After it all, Grandma washed eggs. With circular movements, Grandma washed off the dirt, blood, and chicken poop. Sometimes she would be so exhausted, she would fall asleep while still sitting in the chair. Jerking awake, she would pick up one egg, and then another, going late into the wee hours while the cuckoo clock on the wall ticked off the minutes.
Daily. Monotonous. Un-glorious. Necessary.
I was contemplating my grandmother’s endless eggs last week while I was doing the unexciting task of editing a manuscript, taking apart sentences egg by egg. I wanted to wait until I felt inspired. I wanted to work on a creative, fun, and new project. I wanted to go clean the kitchen. I wanted to read a book. I wanted to go sort out a closet.
I wanted…(you get the idea!)
Instead, I looked at verb choice. Commas. Sentence fragments. I read my editor’s notes and made changes. I checked a reference for accuracy.
So much of writing is about washing eggs.
What eggs do you have to wash this week?
Against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert, Lynne Hartke writes stories of courage, beauty and belonging–belonging to family, to community and to a loving God. Her book, Under a Desert Sky, was released in May 2017 with Revell/Baker Publishing. She blogs at www.lynnehartke.com. You can find Lynne on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.