After you've read a certain writer for a while—last month Wilmette Bureau Chief Caren Jeskey passed, without fanfare, her second anniversary contributing to this space on Saturdays—you get a sense of their moods, their rhythms, their ups and their downs. I read the essay below and thought, "She seems her old self again; a little lighter mood. The spring must be doing its work." Maybe you feel the same.
By Caren Jeskey
I will take an egg out of the robin’s nest in the orchard,Ever since childhood, the eye popping blue of robin’s eggs has been one of my favorite things, probably because my mother felt the same way. My folks put birds, trees, insects, woods, water, and dirt on our radar from the moment we hit this planet, my siblings and me. I can still feel sand crunching between my teeth from peanut butter sandwiches on Wonder Bread at the beach. We lived outside whenever we could.
I will take a branch of gooseberries from the old bush in the garden, and go and preach to the world;
You shall see I will not meet a single heretic or scorner,
You shall see how I stump clergymen, and confound them,
You shall see me showing a scarlet tomato, and a white pebble from the beach.
The mind can be a complicated place. The same murky matter that plays traumas and insults over and over— and fears aging, loss, and death— can become still and serene by a simple unexpected joy, such as finding a nest full of eggs at the lakefront as my niece and I did last weekend. What a boon for this egg lover!
We were at the Lighthouse Beach off of Central in Evanston on a much needed sunny day, and ended up in the wooded area with a gigantic climbing tree and rocks overlooking the lake. We built an epic fort with a tree-stump living room. My niece had me peel long strips of bark off of branches and sticks we had scavenged, which we used as twine.
I’ve never before found four perfect little blue eggs in an exquisitely crafted nest. I needed this tiny gift. Being at the lake with loved ones on a sunny day was great, and finding these babies was the sweet buttercream icing on the cake. In this truly vida loca, Mother Nature is still my refuge.
I thought a lot about those eggs in the coming days and had a strong feeling that they would not make it. As the season finally relented and invited us outdoors, the beach and surrounding parks are becoming busier. With all of that activity I felt concerned for the birds. I also saw plenty of squirrels perching nearby, and a hawk hangs out there too.
Last night I finally made it back to check on the babies. I held my camera up and snapped, and it was just as I’d thought. There were two eggs left, one sliced wide open with sticky yellow insides exposed. The other had a small round hole pecked clear out of it, with no movement inside. I also found a near whole, empty egg shell under the tree.
All living beings are the same. We come into this world, and if we are lucky we survive. Along the way we might get henpecked or worse, and we also accomplish great things, big and small. We will all, as Walt Whitman did, eventually lose our ability to enjoy any of them. It’s time for me to get out on my bike now and do as Mary Oliver said in her poem "Summer Day:" Take advantage of this one wild and precious life.