Sunday. A precious day off. I say goodbye to the hangdog mutt. “Sorry Pip, I know you and I are fighting the flab with a well overdue walk BUT I am off to have fun!”
I grab my jangle of keys from the glass top half-moon table, overladen with three other people’s pocket detritus and head out the door. My ‘golden shopping trolley’ waits! Alias ‘The Golden Echo’, circa 1995, a pocket-sized missile of Toyota magic. A bargain to afford. Just driving past the petrol bowser on a good wind guarantees another hundred kilometres.
I am on a mission – EGGS!
Up the road and along leafy rural lanes, I pass a few roadside stalls on a good day: but my target is Elena’s. With chalky plain intention she lets you know what is offered today. Eggs Onions Potatoes Jams all whispily depicted on the propped chipped blackboard leaning against the tree on her drive. But there is always a little something beside the fresh produce so lovingly grown. The funny pile of donated free articles is always worth a glean. Usually a few National Geographics and sad old videotapes but occasionally a good fashion magazine or kids’ book of note my take my fancy.
Elena greets me today with joy at my (empty) four-egg-carton donation. Her country pale and smiling face reassuring my worth and I instantly become inducted into her egg appreciation club. With money fossicked from my wallet and stowed in the welded metal pipe honesty teller, I pick two dozen gloriously ill-matched, differently shaped and sized eggs, marvel at their individuality and secretly wonder just how many double-yolkers lurk within.
The $4 price is loudly textaed inside the lid and I gently close the rough cardboard cartons and kidnap them back to my GST. Another man brushes uncaringly gently past me, also intent on his treasure.
I slew them on the seat next to me and immediately reconsider my haphazardness. THEY ARE EGGS AFTER ALL. ‘No’ thinks me ‘they wouldn’t dare to move!’, but I relent and gently snuggle them onto the seat a little deeper, wrapping my black jumper around them and drive off!
The way ahead entails a winding climbing, colloquially and appropriately named road, ‘The Gorge’. A relic of the sulky track that was originally hewn up and down the mountain to carry supplies to the river people, now blue-metalled and smooth. Up round the second bend some loon car comes too close so I lurch to miss and from the passenger seat, an ominous sliding sound ensues. Just out of my reach my precious cargo of eggs has rolled against the car passenger door and lays quietly perched upside down half open. Oh No! The road is narrow and winding, requiring ultimate concentration and with nowhere to stop. I rock on, gingerly trying to glide the car around, knowing that every flex of every bend is with a creaking that will cause more egg havoc. ‘Plop’, the sound goes from the next seat as I round a bend, ‘plop plop’ goes the next bend. A procession of impatient traffic succumbs to uncomfortably crowding my rear bumper, and so with each corner comes a more sinister plop and cracking sound. Oh the agony, knowing every corner brings another smelly yellow slime to haunt me. Like the previous last summer milk spill which had guest passengers holding their noses and declining return lifts! Ugh the patience I have to deploy till the brain flips; ‘I can do this!’ I decide, and continue driving with every ensuing bend delivering a new crack, plop, plop, plop, crack! I get a sense of noble mission and drive inexorably around more and even tighter bends toward my fate!
At last I am able to pull over and with analytical calm I carefully peer down the side from the back seat! Hah! Most of the eggs have slid gently, with little damage, into the door pouch! What luck! With careful and precise feeling, I locate many and find them little damaged, with only slight cracking and I split into a squeal of mirth. I can just see myself ! Too funny! Ten eggs intact and two clear and yellow slippery oogles anoint my rubber mat! I laugh at the close escape and with a quick wipe of my gym towel, I drive, on with the joyful realisation my egg presents will be intact.
I arrive at my friend’s door, the intact dozen eggs proffered, to relate my tale as we open a sparkling bottle of wine. A bit like life really, making the best of it and using the spoils to triumph on!
PS I was the proud owner of 6 cracked eggs I thought I’d use a day or two before being rendered unhealthy, but my gourmet cook friend was cooking a glorious pumpkin quiche and needed six fresh cracked eggs! And so we dined on ‘Cracked Gorge Quiche’ and I got to take a dozen home!
A day later I am driving to a stop light and out of the depths of the passenger seat floor rolls an egg! I chuckle, marvel and pick it up and put it on the desk as I arrive at work. As everyone arrives and query why an egg is on the reception desk, I tell this story.
Article submitted by Louise Smithers. Written a few years ago, after visiting Elena, who ran the vegetable stall opposite Rowland Village. Elena is sadly missed by many locals.