Yesterday, while lounging on the beach staring at the too tanned rumps of east coast Americans, while listening to the echo of a man with a Jersey accent scream "Melissa! Jeff! You've got to come and check this sea turtle out! It's fucking awesome!"and while reading a collection of essays written by some disgruntled daughters of hippies, a clucking hen emerged from the tangled woods behind us, looked me square in the eyes, cocked her head to the right and meandered back into the trees. (Wild chickens are common on the island. When there were sugarcane plantations and West Indian slaves working the plantations, animals such as chickens, pigs, donkeys and goats were piled onto the island to help out (and eventually chew on). The sugar plantations were washed away after some rather nasty hurricanes and slavery was abolished, but the crusty animals remained to fend for themselves. This might not have been the worst thing that could have happened to them. They could have been forced to live on an industrial farm in Quater, Oklahoma with some crazed killer on their tail named Dirk.) We packed up our beach goods, shook the sand from our sun-kissed appendages, and headed back to our jeep where I discovered, on the floorboard of the passenger's seat, a single hen's egg.
"Is that an egg?" I questioned out loud. I picked up the egg and felt its warmth in my hand. It was smaller than most of the hen's eggs I had seen, but then so were the hens.
I took the egg back to the cabana and tucked it inside one of my small bags. I've been thinking of having chickens for a while and have been checking out books from the library on how to raise them properly (though I'm certain I'll also need a chicken tutor, someone who looks just like Mister Roger's wife. Someone named Rhonda.) perhaps this was just the incentive I needed. I would bring the egg back with me to Portland and hope for the best. If it hatched as a hen, I'd keep her around and find her friends. If it hatched as a rooster, I'd bring it to a Vietnamese farmer somewhere close to the Sandy River where he'd either become a rowdy pet or a delicious capon pho. There was always the possibility that the egg didn't have anything brewing inside it at all, and if that were the case, I'd scramble it or throw it at some deserving passerby.
Days later, after incubating the egg under a plastic measuring cup, rather than smuggling it back to Oregon in my carry on, I decided to take the egg back to the beach close to where we found it hoping that its mother hen would find it, hoping it wouldn't be stomped on by a pig.