It was a Saturday and my birthday. I was full of….. Energy? Hormones? I don’t know what, but I wanted, needed to do SOMETHING! If I could have taken a walk in the pasture, I would have. But the rain was too heavy for that, and it was cold. Walking wet and cold was not a pleasant idea. Yet, I needed to get out of the house, so I went out to the chicken house.

The chicken house was my favorite place on our farm. It was always light and bright due to the row of large windows on the south. And, the chickens were happy to see me. I brought them food and water. When I would come into the chickhouse, they would run to greet me. They were especially happy when I brought strips of melon rind. They LOVED melon rind. They would peck at the rind to get as much in their beak as possible then, to extract that bit from the rest of the rind, they would toss their heads up – and send the rind flying while keeping that bit in their beak. When they were all at it, bits of melon rind would be flying into the air all over the place! That was more exciting than anything on TV! But, this day, I had no melon rind, and they had feed and water, so they didn’t even notice when I came in. They didn’t need me today. Disappointed there, I decided next to go to the barn.

The barn was large and dark and mostly empty. There were no animals there, there were no animals in the barnyard outside. There wasn’t much hay in the loft, so it was rather boring. There wasn’t anything appealing to do there. I considered going to the machine shed where dad stored some of the farm equipment, but the equipment didn’t appeal to me and I knew that if I walked on that dusty floor, with a half inch of very fine, powdery dust, it would form mud to cake onto my wet shoes, and I didn’t want to clean that off. I knew I would have to, I had to clean my little brothers shoes – no one cleaned my shoes.

So, with pent up energy (hormones!), I returned to the house. Once inside, I still needed to do SOMETHING! So, I began on a chore that I had done many times before and I knew would take lots of effort. I began to clean the kitchen floor. That meant, first, to move all the small stuff out of the kitchen: step stool, waste basket, chairs from the table, and any other small things on the floor. When that was done, I swept the floor.

As I worked, I could hear the hard, steady rain beat down on the steel sheets of roofing over the porch just outside the kitchen. I liked the sound. It meant you were safe and dry inside. After sweeping the floor, I began to mop it. We had a rag mop that had to be wrung out by hand. I did that in the kitchen sink. My mother refused to get a sponge mop for some reason of her own.

While I was engaged in this, the phone rang. It was in the hall outside the kitchen. My mother answered it. That was her favorite activity. I don’t know who the caller was but I did hear one comment of her’s.

“I think I’m going to like having a teenager in the house.”

That day was my 13th birthday. I never forgot it.

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