A Bunch of Spring Chickens

     Oh, all right, if you’re going to cry and kick your heels, we’ll talk about the chicks and their role on postcards of a century or so ago.  This is NOT the right time of year, as you will see, but as, just like last year, I don’t really have any Halloween cards, I will accept the inevitable.

     Eggs are laid all year around, and yet somehow the little ball of fluff which comes out of it is tied by tradition to the coming of Spring.  Maybe it’s some deep inner spring within the human imagination which looks at a chick, a creature which can be seen working its way gradually into the outside world and thinks of the slow but inevitable emergence of life after a long hibernation.  Or perhaps we look at something which could be born at any time of year and see in this the hopes of the new season, which is just as cyclical and (one hoped) as inevitable.

     Or maybe we just like looking at critters that are cute.

     The first great feast day of Spring was, of course, Easter.  We will let the philosophers debate whether the date of Easter is really linked to earlier Spring holidays, and discuss the symbolism of birth, rebirth, and resurrection.  For every poem showing Christ emerging from the tomb there are a hundred showing a fluffy yellow fuzzball emerging from an egg.

     This card shows the momentous occasion, and uses a frame to remind us what that shell used to look like, in case we forgot.

     Sometimes the chick is a little surprised to see us making a fuss about it.  (“are there going to be bells every time I undress?  Wait ‘til I start molting.”)

     The chick is frequently seen looking at its old home.  (“Seems to me I got free meals when I was inside there.  Any leftovers for alumni?”)

     And because we want to toss in as many Spring symbols as possible, there are generally always flowers in the vicinity.  Does the chick care about these?  Probably not.  (“I/d like to climb back in there.  I just saw something called a cat and it was a lot more violent than those pussywillows.”)

     We will also see Easter eggs mixed into the picture.  This also confuses the former egg occupant.  (“They tell me these are hardboiled, so these guys should be really interesting when they hatch out.  Speaking of new words, what does ‘a la king’ mean?”)

     The world of the postcard has no particular limits on what may come out of eggs, further confusing the chick.  (“If you sit on this one, Mamma, there won’t be any room left for me.”)

     Or does a chick look on its egg as a past phase, to be forgotten as soon as it is finished?  This chick apparently ignores pretty much everything, though.  (“Art Nouveau?  Phooey!  Where’s the food?”)

     Some postcard artists simply plunk a chick down in the middle of everything else.  This distinguishes the Easter cards from all the other cards they do with pretty flowers all over the place.  (“Well, this is a little roomier than my last egg.  Nice view from the window.  But who are all these people looking at me?”)

     Others bundle him in with whatever Easter symbol might appeal to the viewer.  (“A basket full of roses, huh?  What’s the matter: nobody’s invented jellybeans yet?”)

     The more symbols you can fit in, of course, the more likely the postcard-buying public will know this is an Easter card.  (“This is really nice, and I can see a homily coming about why Dad crows at daybreak.  You wait for that while I go pick out a Halloween costume.  I’ll throw on everything I find and go as a postcard artist.”)

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