Annie and I spent a lot of time at the beach through the years. I stayed at the tide line. She took off for the dune grass looking for small mammals. There were plenty. If she caught a scent of something underground, she would crouch, her big plume of a tail wagging furiously, and leap straight up into the air like an Arctic fox. She was a border collie mix, big at 55 pounds, and the thrill of the chase was what engaged her.
One day at the beach I saw her in the distance trotting toward me and there was something in her mouth. I thought it must be another tennis ball to add to her collection. But it wasn’t. It was something larger, ovoid and creamy white, and it filled her mouth. I put my hand under her muzzle and she loosened her jaws and dropped a huge perfect goose egg, uncracked and spectacular, into my hand. I had never known she had a soft mouth. She traveled all that way with the egg and she gave it to me without hesitation.
I became obsessed with the egg. I put it in my wool-lined glove and held it next to me while we walked back to the car. On the ride home I marveled that she could have eaten the egg but she didn’t. I called my neighbor who had worked for SPCA, but he wouldn’t take the egg. He didn’t have a bird egg license. He told me not to eat it, said it would surely die. That was nature’s way. That night I put the egg in its five-fingered nest near, but not too near, the stove to keep it warm without baking it. It had become something almost human that needed tending.
The next morning Annie and I took the egg to Felix Neck. The ladies there didn’t want it either. No bird egg license. They said it was probably dead anyway, but why not call Gus Ben David. He was a bird and snake man and he had a bird egg license. I called Gus from the parking lot at Felix Neck. Time was running out. But Gus didn’t want the egg either. He said it was just another Canada goose egg and that I should throw it away as it was certainly dead by now.
Still obsessed with the egg, I could not give up. Maybe I could transform it. I thought about Pysanky, the intricately patterned Ukrainian eggs. I learned online how to puncture the ends of eggs and blow out the contents. It would be an easy procedure. I tapped a fine drill bit into each end of the egg to make little holes. I ran a wire into the egg and stirred it around. I’m scrambling this egg, I thought. Then I blew into one hole and the scramble gushed out the other end into the kitchen sink in sinuous viscous strands of yellow and white. There was no creature with wet feathers curled inside. I was relieved about that. I never found anyone who could make Pysanky, but I felt like I’d saved the egg in a satisfying way.
Two years on and Annie has died. I had to make that decision for her. So I keep the egg in my bookcase and think of what makes a true bond for a pair: trust, shared lives, doing the best for each other, memorials made and honored, the unexpected gift with no strings attached. All between two close friends, one almost human whose act was intentional and guileless and who had no idea what it would come to mean to me.