Lester Hillman has written this beautiful piece for the Royal Collections Trust Creative Writing group. If you would like to join, do let us know. You can join via email, phone or post.
Egg Timer by Lester Hillman
Perhaps the egg is about the beating of time, the time tensions creating the gift, seasonal cycles and inspiration, the surprise moment of giving and receiving, dramas playing out to a fixed deadline and public ceremonial spectacle. Perhaps there were perspectives looking decades back and focusing thoughts to a dynastic future.
What might have been Alma Theresia Pihl’s thoughts that Orthodox Church Easter Sunday morning in Russia 1914 as the egg was hatching and the surprise drama played out? Had the inspiration came from there? Others too who had bought it to completion would have invested emotion and could hope for relief. It cannot have been a three minute creation.
The inspiration from domestic contentment, sewing by the fireside, conjures up Winter, the opening of the egg a birth, the embroidery flowers herald Spring and a good Summer. The seasons seem to be there.
Long in advance had a range of ideas been presented to the Tsar for his selection, approval and the adding of a personal dimension? A surprise called for keeping the secret yet practicalities, materials, craftsmanship, second thoughts and last minute options would call for advance preparation, judgements and assumptions with tricky, interwoven and nested time cycles.
Lastly there must surely have been generational cycles. For the Tsar’s family health, life itself and the dynastic succession were ever present concerns. The year 1914 clocked up two decades for Tsar Nicholas II. So here at a significant way marker might a family, cocooned safely, hope for a protected future with a few less surprises.