My son rushed inside a few days ago with the first duck egg of the season. There was great celebration on The Food Farm, not just because it was a magic find (ducks are notorious for laying on the go, and at this time of year they are free-ranging the property). The cause for excitement is because the first duck egg represents much more than a large smooth oval of deliciousness.
The first duck egg on The Food Farm is a sign of approaching spring. It’s not astrologically connected like Matariki (or Maori New Year), nor is it tied to the cycle of the moon like Spring Solstice. It’s sort of our own little indicator to start looking to better times on the horizon. We’ve broken the hard shell of winter and all manner of yolk-coloured sunshine days lay ahead.
That’s not to say we won’t have southerly storms laced with cold rain, or even snow, but we’ve started on a trajectory of warmth and light. You can almost feel the sap rising, a change in energy.
It’s not all ‘beer and skittles’ though, it’s also a beginning of a period of great danger for us. As buds on fruit trees & vines consider swelling, frost is a constant reminder of how it can go horribly wrong in just a couple of hours before dawn. It’s still at least two months away from the real danger period in the vineyard, but I can see ‘the Vine Tender’s’ whiskers twitch on his winter beard, perhaps nervous about their demise as we move out of hibernation and into the business of the growing season.
We dream up all sorts of delicacies for this first egg. My son, buoyed by the response from his family, stomps off to find another as the evening closes in on another beautiful day and a chill descends from the cloudless sky.