Gathering Eggs


There are things happening in my garden. Half of it is no longer wilderness, but dug over with lawn appearing as the rather grey summer plods on. A large trampoline now sits near the riverside fence. A few weeks ago a chicken coup appeared and within days was inhabited. Last week I woke to find, overnight, a handsome and hefty five bar gate had appeared at 90 degrees to a newly repaired drystone wall. And today I opened the curtains to find a very lovely little shed sat out there.

For years I’ve thought one day we would get around to doing something with the garden, but the house is probably enough of a project for a lifetime and a spinal injury doesn’t make me the most suited person to digging. Anyway, there is always editing to be done. So how is it all happening? I haven’t suddenly discovered treasure in the garden with which to pay for gardeners, but instead I have discovered sharing. We blithely tell toddlers to share, but often quietly forget about it as adults.

“There is no delight in owning anything unshared.”

My garden is becoming a place to grow food and house chickens and provide play thanks to my neighbours and it is such a delight to see it taking shape. Dylan has incredible energy, working late at night often a full day’s work, and he’s started a trend. Other neighbours have been busy clearing my garage to use as a workshop for their beautiful vintage American cars and in the process have done masses of clearing and tidying of the area around the garage. Tomorrow a skip arrives and Seth is going to have fun with sledge hammer helping to take down a semi-dilapidated outhouse. By sharing the outdoor resources of the house everyone benefits: the garden looks better, three families have a more useful space, there is more sense of local community and there are gorgeous fresh eggs.

At the end of Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) says:

I thought of that old joke, y’know, the, this… this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but I guess we keep goin’ through it because most of us… need the eggs.

Sharing puts us into a different relationship with neighbours. It’s probably absurd by many conventional standards – disregarding fences and blurring boundaries, slightly dissolving the insular nuclear family mentality. It’s messier than just closing the door and saying ‘mine’, but there are eggs.


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3 responses to “Gathering Eggs

  1. Sounds wonderful 🙂

  2. What a lovely piece – and great to hear about your community growing closer together. It’s good to have a lack of reliance on personal possessions because it enables you to share comfortably; but I’ve always felt uncomfortable about adults forcing children to share their treasured toys when they would never think of sharing their camera, laptop etc. t’s alil too difficult for little ones who become very attached to things that have been given to them as presents, even if their parents provide a good example. Your sort of sharing benefits everyone.
    Good luck to you all – and enjoy the eggs!

  3. Thank you for this, Mavis. I share your discomfort with children – I think there needs to be a much more gentle process of learning than is generally imposed.

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