Sunday, April 1, 2012

Egg-Dyeing Day

In my role as a volunteer ranger for the Maryland Park Service, I give occasional nature programs to the public throughout the year. One of my favorites is an all-natural egg-dyeing program, which I always present on the Sunday before Easter at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, a federally protected wildlands in Owings Mills, Maryland, part of the Patapsco Valley State Park system in Baltimore County. As part of my two-hour event, I show children and adults how to wrap raw eggs in onion skins, fresh dill weed and parsley, and then soak them in a variety of colorful dyes made from household food items like paprika, turmeric, beets, red cabbage, spinach, blueberries and coffee grounds.

I had a great turnout today, with forty participants; a good mix of adults and children. Each was instructed to bring a dozen raw eggs. I provided the wrapping materials, a handout for dyeing the eggs later at home, and instructions.

Having dyed two dozen eggs ahead of time, I carefully snipped the kite-string/parsley/onionskin wrappings from my finished eggs while the class participants busied themselves with wrapping theirs. As they wound kite string around handfuls of frilly dill sprigs and onion skins, I unveiled mottled eggs tinted amazing hues of blue, orange, yellow, green and tan. The parsley and dill weed impart abstract patterns on the eggs which, when rubbed with a little salad oil and then buffed to a mellow sheen, evoke a finish of polished marble.
I’ve been giving this program for many years now, and my visitors always go happily away, clutching their collection of neatly wrapped ovoid packages, eagerly anticipating their own session of soaking the eggs in all-natural vegetable, spice and food dyes. It’s a rewarding experience for naturalist and participant alike and, while exhausted at the end of the day, I come away from these events feeling very satisfied about time well spent.

To see a web album I put together of the day's activities, click on this link: Cheers,


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