A Magpie Tale, which began with a family brainstorm
Melissa looked up, gloved hands full of weeds. After a month of unpacking boxes and organizing the house, she had finally decided to tackle the yard. The beautiful garden had been an important factor when they bought the house, but she just had not had time for it since. Now the carefully tended beds were full of weeds. And some other things, too. She had found bits of plastic, a soda can, a toy car, even a broken spade. What could Sarah have found this time? She pushed her way through the peonies to where Sarah squatted over her treasure.
"See? A watering can!"
"Well, that could be useful."
"And it is so pretty and green. May I keep it, and water all the flowers with it?"
"Of course. The Hansens must not need it anymore. Bring it along, Sarah."
The little girl picked up the watering can's curved handle. "Oh, look! They forgot a sock, too!"
Melissa gingerly plucked the tube sock from the dirt. "Do you want to keep this one?"
"Eww, Mom, no thanks."
Placing the sock next to the pile of weeds, Melissa moved on. Sarah set the watering can down among the daisies, and ran off in pursuit of a butterfly. Melissa attacked a tough clump of dandelions. Soon Sarah came bouncing back, and picked up her treasure again.
Melissa looked over. Yes, peeking out from the daisy leaves was a man's black sock. Mr. Hansen must have been more careless than she had thought. She put this sock next to the first, and uprooted the last dandelion. Sarah dropped the watering can in front of some lilies, and turned somersaults across the grass.
When she came tumbling back, she found a pink baby sock. Then a soft blue lady's sock. The stack of socks was keeping pace with the pile of weeds. Every time Sarah picked up the watering can, she found another sock. None of them matched. Melissa was puzzled. The Hansens had not seemed like people who would toss their socks off with a wild impulse to work in the garden. But she had barely met them.
Then Sarah approached with yet another sock. This time she looked troubled. "Look, Mom. It's my favorite sock, the one with butterflies on it."
"I'm glad you found your favorite sock, dear."
"But I lost it before we moved. A long time before."
"Maybe another little girl lost a sock just like it, right here." She thought the Hansens only had sons, but they must have entertained visitors sometimes.
"No, Mom. I didn't want to lose my favorite socks, so I wrote my initial on them. See?" There, on the toe, was a backward letter S. Melissa looked back at her daughter, who solemnly proclaimed, "This must be where the socks go."
"When you fold up the clean clothes, and the socks don't all match, you always say, 'Where do the socks go?' It must be here, and the watering can finds them."
Melissa stifled her impulse to call Sarah's idea silly, and proposed a diversion. "Will you put some water in the can, and water these poor roses?"
Sarah willingly ran to the tap and filled the can to overflowing. She lugged it back to the rosebush, and poured. Along with the water, out flowed five more odd socks. Melissa jumped. Sarah just pointed.
Then another voice rang out.
"Mo-om! I can't find my soccer socks!" Max looked out of the back door.
Melissa sighed. "Where did you see them last?"
"I left them on my floor after the game last week. And they aren't there any more."
"Did you look in your drawer?"
"I don't have time for this, Mom. I need to get to practice."
Melissa handed Max the watering can. "Go look in your drawer. I need to wash my hands before I help you."
Max groaned and headed upstairs. Melissa listened for the thump of the watering can on the floor.
"There aren't any socks in my drawer. C'mon, Mom, I'm going to be late!"
Melissa stood at the bottom of the stairs. "Max, will you bring me the watering can?"
"What watering can? I need my--oh, here are some socks!"
Max returned, fully dressed for soccer practice. He handed his mother the watering can, picked up his ball, and waved as he hurried out the front door.
Max's mother and sister watched him run down the sidewalk. The white tube sock on his right leg covered his shinguard neatly. The blue and yellow striped sock on his left leg reached nearly to his shorts.
"I think you are right aboug the watering can." Melissa smiled at Sarah.
Sarah was laughing too hard to answer.