Every now and then it’s good to pause
in your pursuit of happiness,
and simply be happy for what you already have in your life.
What am I happy for right now?
A friend of mine, over the sea and far away, posted an item on the book of face. She had a glut of fresh free range eggs and offered them to any of her friends. I was sitting down at the laptop for a rest when I saw her offer. I had come in from the garden after an hour of bentoverdoubleweeding, in my efforts to clear the wilderness that surrounds me. Hunger was tapping at my door and thoughts were turning to what I would have for my tea.
I could see them with the tops lifted off, the whites nicely set and the yolks a deep rich runny orangey yellow about to spill out and down the side of the eggcups. Slim crisp soldiers in formation around the plate ready to be dunked Now nobody mention that udder stuff or you will spoil my meal and the illusion. Butter never melts in my mouth. Ugh! The very thought of it sends shivers down my spine.
So I pick up the phone and surprise my friend by asking if she will send me a half dozen eggs.
I could hear her and almost see her falling about her house with the laughter while wondering how she could send a half dozen fresh speckled hen eggs all the way over the sea in time for my tea!
She did actually ask that question when the laughter allowed her.
So I told her a story – a true story:
Auntie Nancy, a sister of my father, would be 104 if she was around today. She spent many years as a widow in the wilds of Co Clare. She reared hens & geese.
On regular occasions a sturdy brown postage box with the word Eggs printed on it in very large font, arrived with our post/mail. It was a made for the purpose box sold at the rural Post Office. Inside were two egg trays, and enough space for two dozen eggs. Nancy addressed the box to mammy, affixed the stamps and handed the parcel, tied with string, to the Post office attendant. Two days later our local postman delivered it to us. All eggs were intact, each one wrapped in newspaper to fill the space and protect them from moving about. Once the box was empty, mammy wrapped it in brown paper, addressed the parcel to my aunt and posted the box back. Those eggs were wonderful and way fresher than any you would buy in the shops today!
When Nancy came to Dublin it was usually for the day and involved a trip to Clerys Department Store. There she bought a complete new outfit – from the skin out. The parcels were taken to the “Ladies” where she changed into the finery, put the old clothes in the bin, before heading out to catch a bus to our house.
She always carried a leather shopping bag on these visits. It contained at least two or three-dozen eggs complete with half the hen run on them! These had been collected just before she set out on the journey. In the bag, or should I say half in the bag were two chickens. The head and necks hung out over each side while the bodies & legs complete with claws rested in the bag. Their necks had been wrung in the morning and there would be a trail of blood dripping all the way from Ennis to our house! These hens came complete with feathers and innards. Nancy’s arrival on the avenue was announced by her laughter, which was loud and infectious.
One year when we were young, mammy was ill and in hospital. Auntie Nancy was looking after us. She cooked, fed us and generally looked after us. Brother No 4 who was aged three and the baby of the family at that time, pined for mammy and refused to eat. He refused to come to the table at meal times so Nancy sat on the stairs and fed him chocolate biscuits. They were the only food he would eat for her. Her idea was that he was at least eating something.
Nancy’s daughter Mary married in Worcester, England when I was 15. Dan my father, gave her away and I was bridesmaid. We flew to Birmingham with Nancy for the wedding. It was Nancy’s first time to fly. Being the month of February the weather was rough. We hit a few air pockets and each time Nancy shouted out “Christ, we’re sinking!” and opened a small bottle and shook ‘holy water’ on herself and everyone round about us. Daddy of course was several rows away and pretending not to know us. She shouted out to him “Dan we’re sinking! Do you want some holy water? Here come and get it!
We loved to see Auntie Nancy, she was full of fun and laughter. When daddy was taking her to the train in the evenings, we all asked to go with him, wanting to extend the days of fun a little longer.
Fascinating story, sounds like Auntie Nancy not only had good eggs, but was a good egg.
That she was. Auntie Nancy was a real good egg!
Those are very good memories of the postal system. We hardly use the system anymore with the advent of courier companies but rural India still depends on them for a whole lot of services and the post masters and the postmen are still very honoured members of local communities. They are often the people who read and write for the locals!
Royal Mail give a great parcel delivery service here in Northern Ireland.
Wonderful share, GM! Your Auntie was a gal with pluck . . . and cluck!
My earlier comment seems to have gone walk about. 🙁
Nancy, Your name sake, Auntie Nancy, was a bundle of fun.
Hello from northern California. Just discovered you recently and am enjoying. Read all you chapters, great story. Memories are so special. Loved your sharing of your Aunt Nancy. Fresh eggs are the best. I am sure your friend chuckled all day. Looking forward to more of your postings. Thankj you.
Welcome Bev,Thank you for the positive support. Just writing about those eggs, I could almost taste them! Her chickens, once cleaned and prepped, made for a very tasty dinner two.
Every family has at least one crazy relative. At least yours brought you something useful.
Dianne, I would say: More eccentric than crazy. Nancy had a heart of gold!
I’m still trying to figure out how chickens with wrung necks drip blood? Dad used a hatchet on his chickens and they ran around the yard like chickens with their heads cut off scattering blood everywhere.
Dianne, it was a slow drip, just like when we hung a turkey by the feet for a couple of days before cleaning out the innards at Christmas time. No plastic wrapped oven ready birds back then!
Auntie Nancy was a gem. Thanks for a great story, can’t go wrong with good people and chickens.
Brighid, I would be lost without good people in my life. No chickens ever tasted as sweet as those reared by Auntie Nancy!
Great story Grannymar and great memories. Never heard of whole eggs arriving in the post before but have heard of fried eggs arriving and wrapped between newspapers.
My gran had hundreds of hens, have memories of collecting eggs with her, of big green buckets filled with eggs and all the people that used to arrive to buy them.
We had regular deliveries of fresh eggs for years, from Auntie Nancy. With all the people I knew who kept hens, I never actually collected the eggs. 🙁
Oh, what a shame, collecting eggs is lovely – they look like little gifts in their egg boxes 🙂
Love reading about Auntie Nancy and the eggs and her annual trip to Clery’s. I remember going to Clery’s when I was pregnant with my first and buying two tiny wee dresses and hiding them away as it was bad luck and everyone said I was having a boy and I (and my husband) secretly wanted a girl. I can never pass Clery’s without thinking of those two little dresses, my good luck charms. 🙂
Great chatting with you and getting “eggy”. 😛
Clery’s during the sales, is my abiding memory. Counters piled high and the customers three deep, all anxious to get the best bargain!