Eggs and Onions

It is autumn. I am cradling bulbs in my paws, and thinking about onions and stockings and Great Uncle Mole.

As you can imagine, stockings were rare as hen’s teeth in Great Uncle Mole’s burrow. Instead we used old socks for the annual egg-decorating ritual; old socks, well washed. In fact, I am sure they were the same old socks we used every year. They may have even been the ones we attached to our bedsteads at Christmas.

When I say we, I am talking about all the young Mole cousins. On any other day of the year Great Uncle Mole had to be prised from his desk or armchair to spend time with his younger molekin, especially en masse. But in the afternoon of the first full moon after the equinox, he and Uncle Ratty invited the whole caboodle over to prepare eggs for Easter.

It is autumn. I am cradling bulbs in my paws, and thinking about onions and stockings and Great Uncle Mole.

The first stage involved gathering sticks for the bonfire and ferns for the eggs. At dusk we went inside and sat around the kitchen table where the old socks, string and a basket of eggs sat ready. Clutching an egg and a piece of fern in one paw, we had to manipulate the sock over in such a way that the one was firmly pressed against the other. Then we had to delicately remove the paw and tie each end of the sock tightly.

Outside the bonfire was lit and a cauldron of water and onion skins brought to the boil. It was Great Uncle Mole’s task to lower the eggs into the cauldron of water. This whole ritual had been handed down through the ages from the great Swiss Family Mole. At the time I thought it was the whole idea of decorating eggs that had come from that clan but I suspect it was only the onions that were their innovation – onions are after all peculiarly venerated in Switzerland. And I am sure humans in Southern Africa who dyed and decorated ostrich eggs 60 000 years ago had neither stockings or onions were available to them.

The first full moon after the equinox is with us now and Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, but here in Tasmania it is the wrong equinox. Here the leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in. Oestra, the goddess of Spring has no place.

The bulbs I am cradling in my paws bridge the dissonance between my European past and Tasmanian present. I look at the pictures of daffodils, crocuses, anemones, snowdrops and tulips and as I place the bulbs into the earth I can celebrate their flourishing in the Spring.

And I am thinking too of laying some eggs of sorts, eggs containing thoughts that might quietly mature during the quiet season and be ready to hatch into vibrant being when the antipodean Spring comes.

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