First Contact: She was late this morning.

by Jeanette Cain

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She was late this morning. It's amazing that when you're a child and you really have no concept of time that you can tell when something does not happen at its usual time. Maybe it's a subconscious mind thing, such as, sounds occurring at a specific time, or the amount of light given off from the Sun at a certain time. Whatever, she was late this morning.

The giant pecan tree stood at the back kitchen window. I could see the two-hen coop perfectly from that view and I could see any eggs that had been laid the night before, but going outside and seeing it in its true form was intimidating. There were two hen compartments built on the tree by the great carpenter, my grandfather. He had placed a long plank to connect the coop with the ground, and I guess it made it easier for grandmother's two prized laying hens when heading to bed. This morning I saw only one egg. Hmmm, guess the hens had a bad night.

No matter, since this morning, "I" was going to get that one egg out of the coop for grandmother. I remember trying not to let the screen door slam as I went outside, since that would give away my plans for accomplishing a good deed, not to mention being told that I was too little, I'd fall out of the tree, and that I'd probably drop all of the eggs. The one I didn't want to hear, "Ya gonna drop dem eggs!" Besides, with only one egg in the nest, I decided the chickens would get all the fussing from grandmother. I headed for the hen coop.

Looking from a ground view, that coop looked like it could have been sitting on a mountain. The world is huge, scary, and a formidable foe when you're only four-years-old. Gee, that board suddenly looked really thin and really long. It could have been in another world, one that I wasn't sure I could reach. I decided to crawl up the plank. Yes, I would crawl up the plank and then it wouldn't be so easy to fall, at least to the mind of a four-year-old. I made one scoot, another scoot, and another...someone's hands were suddenly under my armpits. I felt myself being lifted from the plank before being placed safely on the ground. The arms turned me around. Yep, it was grandmother.

As I look back on these little problems with grandmother, the one thing that sticks out - she always LOOKED at me for what seemed an eternity before uttering a reprimand.

She was looking, I was sweating. This time I decided to get the jump on her. "I gettin' dat ONE egg far ya!" She said nothing. She walked to the front of the coop (I didn't realize she was as tall as that mountain I had just tried to climb!) She looked in the nest, and then looked at me with a puzzled expression. "Egg?" she said. "Yes, 'um!" I mumbled. She put her hand in the nest once again and when she had pulled back her hand with the egg firmly held, I was vindicated! I remember using a triumphant smile when she looked at me. I knew there was an egg in that nest!

"Oh, chil', dat ain't no egg. Granddaddy brung it to me from the park. It makes dem chickens lay the real thangs. 'Dis has to stay in da nest so them chickens thank they done something." she explained.

Yep, up close it was the ugliest and hardest thing I had come across. It wasn't an egg. It was smaller than a real egg, cold too! I remember thinking, "Dem stupid hens!" I had learned a lesson about reality in a huge world that day. Things aren't always what they seem and just because something looks like an egg doesn't make it an egg. A good lesson that morning, that is, until many years later, twenty-five to be exact when I learned another lesson.

My husband had joined the country club and taken up the game of golf. One Saturday afternoon he invited me to ride in his golf cart and, I suppose, to be a caddy. I had never been on a golf course before and quite honestly never paid attention to the game, its rules, or its equipment.

"Now this is what you do," he said. My mind was in the clothes section of the nearest McRae's so much of what he said fell victim to the wind. "Come here and I'll show you how to set up the ball on the tee," he said as he took my arm and took me to the spot. I thought, "I just hope they put those blue jeans on sale." I then noticed him holding a little red thing, which he called a "tee." Cute, but what I saw him sitting on the tee brought that long ago memory to my mind. It was the same thing grandmother had used in the chicken coop! A golf ball! I don't guess the chickens were the only things that were stupid back then.