When I notice the large and small wonders of my world, I’m happier and more appreciative, so I try to enhance my life each day by being mindful of my surroundings. Over forty years ago, paying attention led me to a rewarding hobby.
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. Irregular splotches of ashy hue 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 scrawled the years from 1930 to the current 1950 on a piece of construction paper, planning to fill the sheet by taping pennies below the years in which they were minted. After several weeks, I decided a coin collection was a waste of good money and used the three pennies I’d accumulated to buy wax candy lips to wear home on the bus.
My next idea was to eat, list, and rate 100 different ice cream flavors before I turned twelve. Like the pennies, this collection never had a chance. The most exotic flavor available to a child living on a remote farm was Neapolitan with its blocks 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: eggcups, egg scissors, wooden eggs and crystal eggs; natural eggs that were gilded, enameled, painted, crocheted, and feathered. A thunder egg a student gave me; an ostrich egg purchased at a garage sale; a glass egg filled with Mt. St. Helen’s ash.
I haven’t added to my collection in years; but often when I wander by the china closet where it’s displayed — and seldom dusted — I study the eggs and enjoy the memories and unique details attached to each.
I then reach out. And it is usually the gray-hued egg from Italy that rests in my palm. I still like how it feels.