The other day, looking out of my upstairs window, I saw my second son and his friend over by the shop, both working most diligently. So intent were they upon their work that they jumped when I asked, "What now, boys?" and held out the gingerbread.
That gingerbread got scant attention for a few moments, as the boys eagerly told me that they were doing; making an "A" coop to be ready for a new hatching of chickens. They explained every inch of that coop to me, their eyes agleam as if they were telling me of the most exciting movie.
"But I thought you had gone to a scout meeting," I said.
"We did. But we hurried home--"
Hurried home from scout meeting to work on a chicken coop! When I left them they went back to saw and hammer, letting the dog gobble up their gingerbread. (It was good bread, too.) But I carried a thrill in my heart. Don't you see? Just the thing I wanted! Making play of their work, using their surplus energy constructively.
On the way to the house I saw my oldest son,--or could he be mine, this brawny blond, as tall as I--astride a load of dirt, driving a lovely team. In undershirt, he wore a most disreputable looking hat, and there were big patches on his trousers. But the gleam in his face as he managed those horses put another thrill in my heart, and when he saw me he let out a wild whoop and flung his hat into the air. Just moving a pile of dirt from one place to another, but don't you see? More than our cows and our pigs we were growing manhood.
I paused on the porch before going in. Far across the pond, on the opposite hillside, I saw my husband, running the tractor. Behind it were fastened the disk and the harrow. Over and over the plowing he went, changing, as he went, the color of the ground behind him--as when one rubs for hand over velvet--from a dry brown to a wet darkness; circling the green oasis that is the bottomless well, trying to free the land of what, in Iowa, we call quack grass.
"See the man working," one might have exclaimed. I, smiling in my heart, thought, "See the man playing." For I knew he felt exactly as my children felt on Christmas morning as they went round and round the dining room table and under it, pulling a train of "choo-choo" cars by a string, with the added joy of accomplishment.
Sitting behind him on the harrow I knew were our youngest son and daughter. They were helping, too, holding the harrow teeth in the ground with their weight--but, my! That fun they were having!