Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Monday, February 25, 2008


The other morning I rode away from my apt. and heard the juncos whispering waves of song into the crisp morning air. I have been noticing male flickers standing atop dead trees again, and they too are beginning their territorial claims in song.

I guessed this is about the time the Cardinals should be singing from the treetops of the maples outside of Smith and 7th St. Cafe back at Bucknell. I was looking through some old LJ entries from three years ago, and the first I heard their calls back then was Feb 7th. Now, out west I have the juncos and the flickers, not that I didn't in Pa though...

Sara and I keep remarking over the smells returning to the air as well. We can smell the warming, wet ground again, and the dew drying from the dead grass.

Fill me with song sweet Spring.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Familiaris - Cedar Waxwing

I first thought of titling the ensuing series of entries Becoming Familiar, but I often feel many of my titles lack substance and clear embodiment of what I am writing.  As I thought about why Becoming Familiar seemed an appropriate title I tried to trace the origin of these words in my mind, before realizing just how simple this connection was.  

Familiaris, the latin base for several common english words, most directly translates to 'domestic', or so an online etymology dictionary tells me.  Thus, this series of entries details the process of what is now commonly referred to as Developing a Sense of Place, or becoming familiar, familiar with one's domestic surrounding.  I hope you enjoy.  
I believe I was about nine or ten when I saw my first cedar waxwing. By then I had taken several birdwatching trips with my Aunt Lucille, to whom I owe a massive debt of gratitude for showing me that there were other people out there who were just as passionately fascinated with the avian lives surrounding us.

At this age, I had memorized the birds in my Roger Tory Peterson’s First Guide to North American Birds, and I had seen most of the birds in this book. The few that I hadn’t seen seemed to accompany my every thought when I was alone and outdoors. The longer I waited to see them, the more majestic they became. A glance of a dark, unrecognizable bird in a treetop far away began eliciting reckless romps through the woods behind my house, most of the time only to find another blue jay hawking through the canopy, searching for nests to terrorize. I had begun to take some interest in reading the quaint descriptions of each species I had yet to see, and slowly I began to memorize these descriptions as I had each picture in the book, but nothing replaces first hand understanding born of intimate observation.

One morning I was standing outside, thrashing a black locust branch across random objects, again laying waste to imaginary foes when I heard a sweeping swoosh above my head accompanied by many nearly inaudible high-pitched staccato chirps. A cloud of nearly twenty dusky birds swept into the gangly black locust tree next to me. I stared up at them, frozen with confusion. I had never seen any flock of birds like this before. One of them swept over to the holly tree ten feet away and froze momentarily enough for me to see a dark crest upon its head. For a moment, its stout beak and crest made me almost see an unfortunately discolored cardinal, but with the flash of a few red feathers protruding from dark wings, the pages of my bird book ruffled past in my mind, leaving me staring at the correct page of my field guide, a flock of Cedar Waxwings…

Motionless, I stared upward, stick hanging loosely in my hand as I watched the flock move busily through the crown of the trees, calling to each other incessantly. I have found few other experiences in my life that bring such a calming stillness to my mind and body as the first time I see a bird new to my eyes.

They flitted from branch to branch, flipping upside down as they seemed to be searching the branches for food. They hurriedly floated from the black locust to a sugar maple, then to the red maple in my front lawn. Keeping my distance, I followed them slowly as though they were my first ‘love’ in fourth grade. Then, only a minute later they let up a chorus and flitted across the road and out of my yard.
In the passing years, I only saw a similar flock three more times, each time almost identical as the last. The flock would sweep into my yard, alighting directly into the black locust tree in my yard, and disappear a few minutes later after working through several trees in my yard. It wasn’t until college that I observed a more intimate account of their behavior. If only fourth grade infatuations were so simple…

My senior year at Bucknell I had a wonderful dorm room where I could watch abundant nature. Yellow jackets pollinated the pepper plants I grew on my windowsill. Cats chased rabbits and squirrels from bush to bush. In the fall, I saw several warblers pass through the spruces and small hemlocks on their journey to southern climates. Later, robust chickadees picked spider eggs and papery seeds from the hemlocks in the winter. And in the spring I witnessed a few wonderful events.

One of my favorite springtime treats are maple-icicles. As the trees awaken in the waxing spring sun, branch tips broken off by winter storms bleed sugary sap, which then freezes overnight. As if working to level the playing field among maples, the sharp teeth of gray squirrels bleed trees lucky enough to weather a rough winter unscathed. Climbing out to the ends of each branch, the squirrels nip off the swelling buds, and return hours later to nurse the sweet, calorie-rich exudate.

This action does not go unnoticed however. Across the paved path one morning while I was watching the squirrels suckle their crop of maple syrup, a flock of birds swept into one of the ornamental cherry trees that are so common on college campuses. Their high pitch calls sparked the fuel of reminiscence, and I was a kid again, watching their red and yellow flickering feathers bring my memory aflame.

They acrobatically plucked cherries from the branches nearly the size of their head, and gulped them with careless gluttony. As their crops filled, they teetered on the edges of their branches, while some of them watched lethargically from the ground. I had recently read some of Rachel Carson’s accounts of waxwings drunk and stupid from juniper berries often dying similar deaths as human drunks – either from consumption itself, or from heedless actions resulting in death. I chuckled, wondering how many of them were succumbing to the intoxication of the winter cherry, fermented while hanging on the branch for months past ripeness.

Several minutes later, a few of the less indulgent individuals fluttered across the path to the bleeding maple. They hopped right out to the end of some branches and stretched to the dripping branches overhead. Some would hang upside down for minutes, patiently licking drop after sugary drop.

It didn’t take long for the gray squirrel to return to the tree. Chattering like a mother shooing hungry children from a warm pie, it rushed up the trunk, avidly defending its bounty. The waxwings simply fluttered from branch to branch a little more hurriedly, barely acknowledging the squirrel’s audible distress.

In the short week or two it took for the tree to send the majority of its winter store of sap into fresh green buds and bright, unfurling leaves, I witnessed squirrels, waxwings, chickadees, nuthatches, and blue jays all visiting this single tree outside my dorm room window. Of course, I didn’t stop visiting the trees during the coldest spring mornings to pluck my share of sugary delight from the tree. Rather, in the presence of such kin I celebrated the sweetness all the more, relishing a shared delight in transcendence from the quiet desperation surrounding me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Familiaris - Indoctrinations of Stillness

I first thought of titling the ensuing series of entries Becoming Familiar, but I often feel many of my titles lack substance and clear embodiment of what I am writing. As I thought about why Becoming Familiar seemed an appropriate title I tried to trace the origin of these words in my mind, before realizing just how simple this connection was.

Familiaris, the latin base for several common english words, most directly translates to 'domestic', or so an online etymology dictionary tells me. Thus, this series of entries details the process of what is now commonly referred to as Developing a Sense of Place, or becoming familiar, familiar with one's domestic surrounding. I hope you enjoy.

When I think back to my first memories leading to my love of birds and nature, they show me nuances of my behavior that were with me even at a very young age. I am slowly finding that while many of these behaviors were challenging to my juvenile success, many of them have ironically become important controlling forces in my life.

Even before I was old enough for kindergarten, it was very important to me that I felt included in the highly choreographed early morning rituals of my family. Most mornings I would awaken to the loud, echoing click of a distant light switch followed by the creaking of our basement stairs as my dad went for his morning shower. After glancing out the window momentarily, I would roll over and fall back asleep as twilight washed my room in blue.

The creaking of my dad coming back up the stairs usually stirred me from sleep enough to realize my bladder was sending me painful messages to get up. I tried to place my bare feet on the edges of the cold wooden stairs as quietly and quickly as possible, sometimes leaning on the railing and the wall in order to skip up to four steps at a time. To get to the bottom unnoticed was always the goal, and I’m not sure why. Whether walking through the woods alone, or sneaking up on my sisters or a friend in a house, there has always been a special delight in arriving unnoticed. Perhaps it is just the act of surprising people with my presence that proves pleasing, who knows.
Many mornings, just as I got to the bottom of the stairs, my mom would emerge from my parents’ room for her shower. Eyes barely open she would mumble, “morning,” and make her way to the shower in the basement. My mom emerging from sleep has always been rather comical to me, I guess because it is so opposite from the way I have almost always woken up ready to go. Rounding the dining room and the kitchen, the distinct smell of clean skin and my father’s shaving cream filled the air as I approached the bathroom. I would peek around the edge of the door in attempts not to interrupt him as he slid a razor up the right side of his neck with practiced concentration. The ease with which the plastic wand-razor sheered the stubble from his face was almost impossible to believe.

After that moment in the morning, my dad’s days were primarily unknown to me. On some warm mornings I would walk outside with him to say goodbye as he left for work, then walk around the yard or driveway for a few minutes, but most chilly mornings I would stand on the couch looking out the back window to watch him get in his blue Nissan truck, and quickly pull out of the driveway.

The majority of my mornings, or the whole days for that matter, remain unknown to me as well, lost in time. However, at some point my parents realized my affinity for watching birds, or at least to be outdoors watching animals in general. One day while my dad was home for lunch he introduced me to the ubiquitous animal trap. Wherever I have been that people are attempting to catch an animal without a real trap, it is the box, stick, string, and bait that make up the trap.

My dad set me up with a large cardboard box propped up on one side by a short stick with a string attached to it, me holding the other end of it. A seemingly enticing pile of birdseed sat beneath box, and I was set to catch a bird. After showing me how to wait til the bird was completely under the box to pull the stick, my dad left me to my own devices. I sat as motionless as a four year old can, peering out from behind the edge of our log-cabin playhouse, just waiting for the unwary robins that littered my yard to see the beautiful pile of birdseed, openly inviting their presence. Little did I realize that the primary birds who would like to eat the birdseed, like chickadees and titmice, would never venture so far from a tree to examine this odd pile of food in the middle of my yard, while all the robins littering my lawn had interest in only worms, not seeds. Nonetheless I sat there with determination and belief that given enough patience and stillness, a bird would enter the box, but then I had no clue what I would do. Eat it? Play with it? Just let it go? Luckily it never got that far.

When I tell this story to friends, I have taken to telling them I sat still for six hours straight, but the more I think about this story, the more I realize I have no absolute bearing on how long I sat there waiting with assuredness that I would catch a bird. Time meant nothing to me back then beyond when I got to eat. In my memory I did nothing else between the times I ate lunch with my mom and dad that day, and when my dad returned from work that night around dinnertime.

What I do know looking back on this memory is that time spent sitting still like in the ensuing years and even today are ephemeral and rare. If only school were based on watching living animals and being outside, rather than staring at an inanimate chalkboard and equally stoic teacher, my childhood would have proved much less challenging, and much more fruitful I believe.

Aside from numerous schoolyard fights, and wayward distractions in the classroom, releasing all of my boyish energy on the weekends and after school was one of the only constructive ways I found stillness on my own accord. In exhausted moments between hours spent in the fields behind my house managing the jaggers encroaching upon my demolished sumac thicket, chasing birds and squirrels through my yard, or throwing leopard frogs in the middle of the bass pond in my neighbor’s field, I found wonders that froze this raging boy into someone completely different. In these moments I was so different; someone I suppose many people never new existed. And how should anyone have known who I really was on my own accord when all I was to most people was a bright boy who couldn’t sit still in class, couldn’t keep his hands to himself, and was constantly throwing things or doing anything other than what was expected in those sterile, lifeless confines called classrooms? In this manner my love for birds and nature quietly grew into my being, and remained relatively unnoticed. I was just being a kid, something I thought we all did. Little did I know this lifestyle was quietly disappearing amongst most other quiet and well-mannered kids in my classes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Relics of Importance

Since leaving high school and my home in York, Pa, I have gradually amassed a shrine of sorts that travels everywhere with me. It consists of items from people and places that hold very important places in my heart, and will forever. Since my freshmen year of college it has grown considerably, but I am still able to look at each piece of it, and remember exactly where or who it is from, and why it is special.

First there is a toucan. This is a rubber toucan that I have had longer than almost anything in my current possession. Its toes have almost all fallen off, so it must lean against something to stand upright. Silas gave this figure to me after a family vacation to Florida or one of the Carolinas.
He has always known how to pick out small gifts that surprise me and show me how much he thinks of me. I remember one time he came to visit my house and saw the toucan on the floor, (since even then it was bad at standing upright, it fell often) and I felt I really let him down when he appeared to be hurt that it was laying on the floor. Since then, I have always felt bad if I see it laying on its side.

There is also a ubiquitous Buddha figure, which for a long time meant nothing to me aside from the memory of a trip I took to Williamsburg, Va, with Silas. We were wandering around a flea market, and I bought this small wooden statue of this Buddha just because it looked attractive to me. I had no clue what Buddhism was, or that it would come to be a majorly transformative force in my life some years later.
Behind the Buddha is a card of a monk that Sara gave me last year for my Bday. In dark times it pushes me into the next day.

The Buddha is sitting upon two river stones I took from Little Pine Creek, one of the places where I began to realize my serious love for the outdoors, my friends, and simple fun. My father first took me to the banks of where I found these stones, and taught me how to fly-fish. I caught one fish in three days. It was a beautiful rainbow. I had no clue what I was doing then. I didn't even know where my fly was when I felt the fish tug. A few years later, Silas and I went fishing there, and we decided to jump in the freezing creek since we hadn't showered in a few days. We screamed and flailed about, and after the stinging subsided, we swam in the crystal clear current, chased trout, and were free. While we warmed up in the sun on the bank, we began skipping stones. This river bank is still the best place I know for skipping stones. One of the funniest memories of my life is our attempts to skip these stones using our non-dominant arms. The awkwardness with which we failed to skip these rocks had us rolling around on the banks.
The small white stone upon the river stones is what I believe is an agate, or an oolid. This stone was sent to me from the shores of Lake Michigan by a dear friend whom I met in Washington, Sarah W. If I remember correctly, these are fossils of small, spherical organisms that became clumped together and fossilized. These stones get rolled around in the surf, becoming polished pebbles of visible fossils.
The piece of bark setting next to this small pebble is very special to me. This bark comes from the remaining cedars of Lebanon. Joelle, a very important friend from Germany sent it to me during one of her visits to her father in Lebanon. The Cedars of Ledanon are some of the oldest, tallest and most ancient and sacred trees in the world. The cedar forests of Lebanon are fabled in the bible, but are long gone due to the same human hunger that scars the Amazon Basin, and the slopes of the Pacific Northwest. This bark is from one of the few remaining sages.

In front of the piece of bark lay two buckeye chestnuts. Late one college night I was walking with some dear friends, Pat and Sarah, along one of the circuits of beautiful lewisburg that had slowly become very familiar to us. We intuitively followed each other aimlessly from street to street, to our favorite victorian houses, spots on the river, and our favorite trees. Each fall we kicked the buckeyes up the road and crunched them beneath our feet. I tasted their bitter tannins, and we talked about how they probably got their names from early taxidermy practices. We held the large chestnuts up to our eyes, imagining them painted like an eyeball and plugged into a trophy buck hanging on someone's living room wall. I kept a few in my pocket one night, so I could cling to those chilly nights when all was perfect.

Next to the Chestnuts is a plug of aspen branch, which I intended to carve into a keychain, but later found it fit perfectly on the shrine. I picked this up when Sara and I first truly met each other. I was visiting Co and the mountains for the first time, and we went on a short hike. This is where I found Sara, and saw the person I felt was hiding beneath the surface all the years we sang together at Bucknell.

Next, there is a white piece of driftwood setting atop a darker piece of driftbark. Both came from the Quilcene Bay, during the first summer I lived in Washington. I would ride my bike down Linger Longer Rd. each day after work, and plunge into the salty water, swim with a lone seal, or catch crabs, and some days I would sift through the driftwood, amazed at the designs nature could make with water, wood, and stone. These pieces will stay with me forever I hope. The dark piece of bark came from when I finally returned to Quilcene after being away for several years.

Then there is a sage smudge made by Sara. After I visited her that first summer in Co, and remarked over my love for Sage, she later sent me this after we had finally began dating. It hung in my car for awhile, and now travels from place to place with me. Relics from the beginning of Love are so latent with nostalgia.

Behind the sage smudge is a picture of Peter, during his time in The Gambia, Africa. My time spent with Peter was so short-lived, yet his friendship was/is so uniquely touching and important in my life. I look forward with hope that we will live together again some day.

I wonder what will be next. There are a few places and friends who are not represented in this shrine, and while you are very important to me, it gives me hope that there are memories to come in places we have yet to be to add to this shrine.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Early Life-Part Three, Finding Nature

After Summer ended and second grade brought me back indoors, I was lucky to see another praying mantis egg. In a small patch of woods behind my house, I was waging a war that had been going on for several years now. Within the edge of the woods was a densely overgrown thicket of jaggers, which I much later learned were more commonly called briars. However, between two twelve-foot tall patches of jaggers there was a small passage through which I could enter into a small forest of sumac, and this is where I went wild. What started as a mere interest in helping my dad control our yard by knocking the tops of dandelions with small sticks, as though I was beheading someone, quickly grew into a full blown obsession for running through fields with a specially picked stick. A swath of shredded weeds would lay behind me, and I felt victorious as though I had just waded through a sea of warriors, having laid waste to them all.

I don’t recall ever being given a reason to hide this activity from my parents, but I can’t ever remember them being present when I would unleash such a jubilant rage. There was always a sense of secrecy to these slaughters, and this is exactly what I found in the sumac, well-hidden between the towering jagger bushes.
From the time I was allowed to walk the forests behind my house as early as three years old, I remember the worrying that came with the word poison ivy. There was some bad plant in the woods that could really hurt me, and I had to be very wary of it. At some point, I also learned of something called poison sumac, and I was convinced that my secret forest of sumac was just this enemy.
I went through many of the best sticks while destroying this sumac forest. These were not mere weeds in a field; these towering spindles of sumac blurred the definition between shrub and tree. Some of the stalks were almost the size of my arms, yet I was determined to leave nothing. Soon, I found an unused broomstick in our garage, and felt I had found the best stick of them all. No matter how hard I slashed through the sumac, the broomstick would not give. This is how it went for many seasons, and when the entire sumac forest had been raised to the ground, I would turn to the encroaching jaggers and smoothly shear off all the brighter green new growth protruding from the bushes. My fort was complete. Here I was alone and unknown within a natural fortress. I even began to burrow tunnels beneath the jagger bushes, where I could lay when the sun had made my fortress too hot. I would watch black specks fly past overhead, and remain motionless when sparrows, catbirds, and mockingbirds would creep through the bush, seeking insects.
On a warm Saturday after helping my dad with yard work, I retired to my fort, and resumed the carnage. My broomstick was stained a deep green from months of use. I was leaning against it for a rest, when I noticed a brown piece of Styrofoam wrapped around a jagger shoot I had just separated from the bush. I picked it up slowly, realizing what I had just found. I squeezed it gently, and it indeed felt like Styrofoam, but with a hard core.
Monday morning, my teacher humored my interests, and allowed me to bring the egg into class for all to see, as well as to give it a shelter for when the time came to hatch. Every day, I came into class, inspecting the egg and the glass cage for some change, but there was none. My hope for the egg’s hatching became a distant thought, the way one dreams of what they may get for Christmas when it is still months away.
One morning, while all the students were waiting in the gymnasium for the day to start, my teacher entered the cloud of students and motioned for me, smiling.
“Come, I have to show you something,” she said quietly with controlled excitement.
I felt a little sickness tighten in my stomach. It was all to common for me to be pulled away from the students for a scolding, or to be sent to the principal’s office for something I had done the previous day. Whether it was perpetrating what I thought was a playful fight on the playground, or riding my bike to school as a seven year old, the school always seemed to have problems with my actions. However, through some stroke of luck, this was not the case this morning. We rounded the corner to the glass cage and it seemed to be crawling with a small green mold, as though overnight mold had infested the cage.
“I was just bout to throw it away this morning, when I looked in and saw everything moving. They Hatched!” Mrs. Ritts exclaimed to me.
I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t a mold at all; rather hundreds of praying mantis babies no bigger than my pinky nail covered every surface of the cage. Life had existed within that egg the whole time! After the class had a day or two to inspect the offspring, we set them all loose in a field outside the school, and I took a handful home to foster on my own.
A month later, three of them remained alive, now about half the size of my thumb. I had spent hours watching them slink around the large canning jar, climbing sticks, falling from the sides of the glass, and periodically batting at each other when they came face to face. I wasn’t sure what they needed to eat anymore, for all the ants I had placed in the jar with them had died strewn about the dirt uneaten. So, I released them into my father’s iris bushes outside, and turned my interests to starting my own any colony from the many ants that frequented our flowerbeds. A week later as I perused the beautiful indigo blossoms where I had released the juvenile mantises, I found one, apparently healthy, and much larger already. If you have never seen a praying mantis turn its head and stare straight at you through its pearly green compound eyes, it is an eerily familiar sight, and I find it hard not to impart some sense of intelligence upon that stare.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Early Life-Part Two, Special Things Hide Outside

My fondness of reading didn’t last very long. Not long after I began to read, my family began watching much more TV together. I remember for a long time the TV was always turned off when it was time to eat together. We sat around the table, and talked, and enjoyed our meal. However, shortly after first grade, while it had usually only been a treat to be allowed to eat out dinner while laying on the floor of our living room, it became increasingly common for my parents to take their dinner to the couches, and for us kids to lay on the floor and watch shows like the Simpsons and McGuiver while eating dinner.

After finishing dinner, I would lay my plate in the sink, and sleek onto my mothers lap. Later, after I was too large for her lap, I would squeeze onto the very edge of the chair. This persisted well through elementary school, and completely replaced the ephemeral time I spent reading to my parents. Now the amount of contact I experienced with my parents was not dependent on my reading skills, and my skepticism of reading grew. Books seemed useless to me unless they were explaining some picture in the book of a frog laying eggs, or explaining how the planets of the solar system orbit the sun.

Slowly, science books became the only books I would read in school. It seemed the books for every other topic in school were a waste of time. The teachers seemed to always be giving us all the correct answers we needed to get good grades, and all we had to do was listen to them. But in these books, I found wonders the teachers never talked about. I found things I later learned they barely understood themselves. This is what brought me to the woods.

I was always exploring as a child. Much later in life, while in high school and a few times during college when I remarked to my mom about TV shows all of my friends were familiar with and I was not, or voiced concern, (I guess sometimes pride as well) over how other kids couldn’t climb a tree or catch a frog like I could my mom stated with motherly resolution, “Beej, that’s cause you were always outside. You never wanted to do anything else, you just wanted to be outside.”

Well, I guess it was always clear to me that I wanted to be outside, but I hadn’t entertained the possibility that this wasn’t the case for each and every kid I knew. I still have a tough time finding that other people don’t feel the same about this. Anyways, this was about the time when I found out teachers in a class room would teach you about things they had never witnessed on their own.

The summer before second grade, I was helping my grandmother trim some bushes outside of her house in Chambersburg. The summers were hot, so we got up and worked in the morning, and then sipped sweating glasses of sugary sun-made iced tea in the afternoon. One day my grand mother paused and yelled as she bent closer to a bush she was shearing.
“Oh Beej, come here quick, come look at this,” she exclaimed in the same ascending high pitched voice my mom used when she got excited about something.
I dropped the juniper branches I was carrying that smelled of cat piss, and ran over. I peered into a dark hole where no branches were growing upon this dense evergreen tree, and looking up at me was a pale green insect, nothing like I had ever seen.
This was no beetle, no fly, and no ant I later learned how to burn with a magnifying glass my grand mother gave me for Christmas.
“This is a praying mantis,” she said softly, slowing down and speaking very clearly as she said its name, “they are very special because they eat all the bad flies in these bushes. See how it looks like its prayin,” she questioned, folding her hands like she was praying too, “I just think they’re the dearest things.”

I am not sure I had any idea what bad flies did in bushes, but the fact that my grand mother introduced such a thing to me with such softness and clarity marked this insect to me as forever special. To this day I still feel worse about accidentally stepping on one large female I was trying to catch than I do about anything else I have ever killed. I suppose that was one of the first times I learned that very special things hid outside, and they could be found everywhere.

It was also this summer that I learned what a praying mantis egg was. Again, in similar circumstances, my grandmother called me over with excitement to a large shrub she had been shearing, and she pointed to a small brown piece of Styrofoam about the size of a ping-pong ball.
“When it is time for this to hatch, it will open up and hundreds of little babies will come out,” my grandmother whispered to me with quieted importance.
I had trouble picturing hundreds of babies, miniature versions of what I had seen just a few days before, emerging from such a small thing.