I remember being seven years old and still loving Iowa spring, believing it to be all cheap gingham and wild onions sprouting. But as I grew I learned that to be a child in promised Iowa spring is to feel sentimental and uneasy. We would return to patterns marking the nurturing rhythm of time familiar: full brush piles, vinca vines blooming, cicada choruses at sundown, lilac bushes spilling over. And with these easy April lullabies came those subliminal spring hints, trailing towards adolescence, hidden in the blossoming, the ripening. Spring pushed childhood forward; we all became wiser when the monarchs returned north. When the soil thawed from months of winter frost, I would kneel in my garden, rusted trowel in hand, knees muddening while I ripped through roots, sent worms wriggling. Trying to dig a hole deep enough where I could hide from spring and remain a child forever.
One day while I was digging I spotted through the soggy loam a flash of moonwhite, smooth and still. It was a perfect stone of life, a bird’s egg whole and glowing. The egg remained cupped in my care for over a week, placed in an old shoebox under the lightbulb of a table lamp. Every day I checked on my dear April lullaby, waiting for it to hatch, and I announced to everyone the news of my beautiful egg, my baby bird-to-be. When I told my elementary school teacher, she invited me to bring my treasure to share with the class. I knew my classmates would be so envious of the springtime life I carried, and I so packed my little egg to bring to school with me the next day.
I wish I had known how fragile those little stones of life tend to be. It seemed that all the resilience of my bird-to-be was spent fully on its fall from the nest. Certainly not enough left to survive a ziploc bag inside a child’s backpack. When I went to my cubby to get my egg, I slowly unearthed a sickly yellow mess. I held my ziploc high to examine the moonwhite shards, jagged and crumbled, yolk lumping thick in between. I shoved it away and went to the bathroom to cry. To mourn. I had killed my April lullaby, my cheap gingham and wild onions sprouting.
Seasons don’t slow for a shattered bird’s egg. Iowa spring kept passing through; each year the monarchs would return north, and I would cry at their beloved homecoming because I didn’t want to get any wiser. Yet my body grew too big to fit inside any dug up garden holes. I could not stop the blossoming, the ripening; springtime would come to welcome my first training bra, my first kiss. The uneasiness of Iowa spring paired cruelly with the sweet smells of chopped lilac in the kitchen vase, a vision of childhood sentiment. And in the thick of that tiptoe towards adolescence I would think back to my precious egg, imagining a world where it had hatched. I dreamt of my bird growing radiant and strong, big enough to carry me away, so that we may leave spring behind and fly forever towards Iowa winter, chasing those months of still and freeze where life remains unchanging.
Carson Schulte is a senior at Luther College studying social work and Spanish. She grew up in Iowa and recently moved to Denver to complete her social work practicum. On days off from her internship at a child residential treatment center, Carson enjoys knitting, baking, and snuggling with her cat. She is an emerging writer in the field of creative nonfiction, with work forthcoming in the Oneota Review.