On Chicken Coops

About two days ago, my grandma and I started receiving irksome texts from my dad. Where’s the chicken coop? he kept asking, I’m sure it’s on the property. He wouldn’t give it up – he even sent us pictures he had taken last year of this mysterious chicken coop that was supposedly in my grandma’s Floridian yard. The problem was, there was no chicken coop to be found. There was an old red shed, filled with mismatched chairs and gardening tools. There was a big deck, and a round outdoor table. There were palm trees and aloe growing everywhere. But no chicken coop.

My grandma made sure to clear this up with my dad. She told him that “the whole thing is gone” and that the previous owner “probably cleared it away so (the) house would sell better.” And so, after many bemused texts had been sent back and forth between my grandma and my dad, the mystery of the missing chicken coop mystery was dropped (the only person who truly dropped it was my grandma – I’m sure my dad was still agonizing over it).

Today, in a rush of inspiration, I decided to go on a search for the chicken coop. What’s the worst that could happen? I turned on “We Can Do Hard Things” by Glennon Doyle, and walked out into the sunshine of a gorgeous Florida afternoon. I felt like a brave adventurer, out to discover whatever might happen along my path.

In truth, I vaguely remembered where the chicken coop was. I was actually there when my dad first discovered it, and I remembered seeing it with him, and being astonished by this rare treasure: a relatively large chicken coop in the backyard of a house in the Florida Keys. But, because everything is generally very cloudy in my brain, I thought maybe the chicken coop had been at a different house, or that I was mixing it up with a childhood memory of a chicken coop, or that I had simply fabricated the memory of a backyard chicken coop, and now it was parading around in my mind like a real memory, trying to trick me.

So when my dad first started sending chicken coop inquiries, something dim stirred in my brain. I ignored that dim response (because it was dim) and continued on with my life. But after a couple of days, the call of the chicken coop grew too strong to resist: I knew it was out there. All I had to do was go out and find it.

A minute later, I was standing in front of the chicken coop door. It was mostly obscured by vines. We had missed it because, until yesterday, there was a big tree covering it. We assumed the shed was a part of our neighbor’s property – we didn’t realize that we had access to a door. In that moment, I felt like Mary in The Secret Garden (I reread that book this past summer – there is some problematic racism in it, but I still connected, on a deep level, with the story of a girl growing healthy by spending so much time playing outside) finding the door for the first time.

I yanked it a couple of times, and it opened. Then, I snapped a few pics to send to the group text with my dad and my grandma. Proof. And then I went back inside and continued on with my day.

Moral of the story? What you’re looking for might just be right in front of you.

Just kidding. There’s no moral. It’s just really ridiculous that my grandma and I didn’t know there was a chicken coop in our backyard.