By Renea Winchester
It’s bad enough that my daughter’s birthday falls on the same week as standardized testing at school; she had the misfortune of being born on April 14th, the day before “tax day.”
You see, my husband despises doing the taxes, almost as much as the thought of paying someone to prepare them. Our home becomes a place of hushed whispers, and closed doors. Even the dog senses something is amiss and tiptoes down the hall. Each year I begin mentioning our taxes in March, hoping that he’ll do them early (like the 10th of April for Pete’s sake!). This year, I assembled all the documents, placed them in his chair, then gathered the birthday girl and evacuated to the safest place possible…Billy’s farm.
We found Billy on the tractor. He had tried to plow the garden, but was forced to abandon all hope. The ground is still “too wet to plow” in most places. Instead, he cranked the lawnmower, cut a swath of grass, and dumped the clippings into the chickens who clucked and scratched in delight.
While Billy and I were discussing our limited planting-in-the-mud options, Jamie snuck into the hen house and retrieved her favorite chicken, “Little Momma.”
Little Momma truly is the best of all mother hens. She’s a tiny thing weighing a little more than a pound, if you include the feathers on her feet. Last spring, she stayed at our house rearing a brood of chicks safely away from the “big hens” who were wonderful egg-layers, but negligent mothers. Once the chicks outgrew their accommodations, all poultry returned to Billy’s.
Since today was Jamie’s birthday, Billy said, “Why don’t you just take that chicken home with you?”
That’s when the adventure began.
Jamie, who was on her way to choir practice, held Little Momma in her lap until we arrived at church. She went inside while I snuck a birthday cake into the kitchen for a surprise. Two minutes later, I returned to find Little Momma sitting in my backseat where Jamie had left her, as if riding in a car is something she does daily.
I was now in charge of driving home while holding a live chicken, which looks as ridiculous as it sounds. Little Momma and I were doing fine, until the phone rang.
It appears in my zeal to make the tax preparation painless, I’d overlooked the obvious…Turbo Tax Deluxe Edition. (Now I know this is available on-line, but don’t get me started on that little tangent), since I was already out and about could I “pick up a copy?”
My response: “Of course I can.”
I mean, it’s not like I’m driving down GA 400 with a live chicken in my lap.
I pulled into the parking lot, carefully placed the hen on the floorboard and begged her to stay put. I ran into the office supply store, plucked the last remaining Turbo Tax off the shelf, and rushed to my car where Little Momma was flying around, accurately defining the term “screaming banshee.”
I ignored the stares of those parked around me and opened the door, which somehow triggered a clucking calamity.
The flying continued, with an added high-pitched cackle thrown in for emphasis.
I wedged the shopping bag beneath the seat and eventually captured the hen. With Little Momma safely in my lap, I returned home, delivered the necessary program to Mr. Grumpy Taxpayer.
I decided it best to have a seat ouside and find my happy place while Little Momma scratched for worms.
Next year, I’m taking my daughter and my chicken out of town on tax day.
Renea Winchester is the winner of the Appalachian Heritage Award. Her first book In The Garden With Billy: Lessons on Life, Love, and Tomatoes will be published in 2010. She welcomes your comments at www.reneawinchester.com