It’s difficult to believe that time could pass so quickly but having tripled-checked the date and referred to multiple calendars I can confirm with some confidence that National Egg Day is upon us once again. To mark the moment, I’m sending you a letter from legendary novelist and animal lover E. B. White, written in 1973 to a class of Los Angeles sixth-graders who had recently sent him some uplifting essays. This letter is reprinted in Letters of E. B. White, one of the greatest collections of correspondence ever to have been published, and a book I cannot recommend highly enough.
May 20, 1973
Dear Sixth Graders:
Your essays spoke of beauty, of love, of light and darkness, of joy and sorrow, and of the goodness of life. They were wonderful compositions. I have seldom read any that have touched me more.
To thank you and your teacher Mrs. Ellis, I am sending you what I think is one of the most beautiful and miraculous things in the world—an egg. I have a goose named Felicity and she lays about forty eggs every spring. It takes her almost three months to accomplish this. Each egg is a perfect thing. I am mailing you one of Felicity’s eggs. The insides have been removed—blown out—so the egg should last forever, or almost forever. I hope you will enjoy seeing this great egg and loving it. Thank you for sending me your essays about being somebody. I was pleased that so many of you felt the beauty and goodness of the world. If we feel that when we are young, then there is great hope for us when we grow older.
E. B. White
While I have your attention, Letters of Note: Space was recently reviewed by an astronomer named Jane Green for BBC Sky at Night magazine and I’d like to reprint her words below. I wouldn’t normally do this but I was incredibly nervous about this book due to my prior ignorance of the subject at hand, so to read such kind words from an expert was, and still is, an immense relief. Also, Jane describes the book better than I ever could. (By the way, you can grab a copy here.)
LETTERS OF NOTE: SPACE
The best things come in small packages, and this little book is no exception. Letters of Note: Space is a Pandora’s Box featuring written correspondence sent from both Earth and space, that reveals the thoughts of astronauts, cosmonauts, astronomers, engineers, presidents, politicians, parents and children. All the communications are insightful and deeply moving, evoking feelings of hope, awe, rage, remorse, disappointment and fear.
We hear the hopeful voices of African Americans at a time when Black lives appeared not to matter, a girl aspiring to be an astronaut; a would be astrophysicist who, despite racial challenges, succeeded. We can empathise when a female ‘computer’ makes a simple plea for an equal wage. We smile at a schoolboy’s request for Australia to join the Space Race - his missive backed up with prescient rocket designs. And we chuckle at early ideas about life on Venus and Mars, and identify with a lady’s lifelong love of ET. We’re enraged at an engineer's unheeded warning that could have prevented the shocking Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, and feel chilled by the pre-prepared presidential statement to be issued should the Apollo 11 astronauts have never made it safely back to Earth. The love of an orbiting astronaut father for his son, his loneliness without his wife, and his longing for Earth’s ‘elemental’s’ jumps off the page.
These letters are deeply insightful historical markers. Poignant, disturbing, potent, beautiful, thought-provoking, utterly addictive, they offer a timeless connection not just with each other but with the vast cosmos itself.