Life on a small hobby farm can be rewarding and so full of little milestones. I just got one of the little hints that spring is lurking somewhere under the ice that is currently melting to mud. Even before the fuzzy quality of buds on trees, and bees taking to the air, comes one of my favorites; the eggs.
How are eggs a big deal? For anyone who doesn’t live on a farm you may not be aware that chickens lay eggs based on the available daylight hours. Yes chickens are solar powered. They can be tricked into laying during the winter by electric lights but I don’t like to do that. Some breeds produce right through the winter. Mine don’t.
Normally December and January I have no fresh eggs. I keep my eggs fresh enough to cook with during this time by purposely not washing them when I bring them in. I wash them just before I use them. Anything smeared with any unsavory barnyard waste is not saved for longer-term storage.
This year was unusual in the fact that my chickens stopped laying earlier than they ever had before: the beginning of November. They didn’t grace me with the first egg till this week. Normally I see one on, or around, Groundhog’s day. So this led me to do something I haven’t done in almost ten years. I bought eggs, from the store. That was eye-opening. I’d nearly forgotten the ghostly pale yellow yolks of my youth as compared to the robust yellow/orange yokes of free-range chickens.
The one on the left is from one of my birds, the one on the right is from a cage-free carton from the supermarket. The color of the yokes from my birds will darken in the spring when there is more for them to forage. There’s just no contest which I like better. I’m glad to have them back.
Gather round boys and girls and I'll tell you an origin story. No, I'm not a superhero. No cape, and my tights bunch up, or pull so I'd rather not think about them too much. This origin story isn't mine, not really.
Before we begin I'll note that the crucial piece of information that would allow you to verify this tale is sadly missing. So, take it as fact, or assume it's fiction. I know the truth, and really that's what matters.
This story starts years ago with my mother: the collector of junk, and occasional finder of treasure. She walked into my house carrying a zippered case that was starting to come apart. She informed me that it contained a gift. Inside was an old Olivetti Underwood Lettera 33 typewriter in beautiful condition.
I love typewriters. I grew up typing school reports on a typewriter. Admittedly, I grew up in the era of the electric word processor, but my household didn’t own one. We did however have a Commodor 64 computer, and one of those printers that required the paper with the tear-away guide holes. Really, it was a thing, look it up. I couldn’t use it because it was the wrong format for the school, seeing as the paper was nearly as wide as a desk. Instead, I used an old manual typewriter.
To me, the clacking of the keys of a typewriter sounds like nostalgia, like inspiration, and also a whole lot of work.
So on my table in front of me sat a light, beautiful, traveling typewriter. When I asked my mom why she bought it for me, she told me the gift wasn’t from her. My mother had spotted it sitting on a table at a yard sale. It was out of her price range but she thought I might like it so she decided to see if the woman would take less for it.
This woman of retirement age asked my mom if she wanted the typewriter to use herself, or for resale. My mom told her about me: a writer who had an idea for a book and dreams of one day being an author. It was going to be a gift to encourage me to write that book.
The woman was amazed and told my mom to take it as a gift of encouragement from her to me.
Why would she do this? This typewriter had belonged to her late husband: a newspaper reporter. It had been carried with him for most of his career. When he eventually retired he decided it was time to write his book. He unfortunately passed away before he could accomplish the dream of writing his first novel on this typewriter. It was her hope that the typewriter would be used to write my first novel instead.
So a great deal of my first draft for, “As It Ends” was written on this typewriter. Additionally the text for the front cover was typed on this typewriter and scanned in to be used as a nod to the gift that I received.
What was the crucial piece of missing information you ask. I do not know the name of the woman who gifted me the typewriter. When I asked my mom she stared at me and said that she didn’t actually know it.
So to the woman who made the anonymous gift of this beautiful typewriter, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It was used to write a first novel.
I have an ongoing interest in dystopian fiction, both reading and writing it. I’m a fan of simple living and draw inspiration for my writing from my love of old-fashioned skills and my small hobby farm.
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My first book is available on Amazon