I've heard the question, in one form or another, more times than I can recall. The last episode, a double-header, started with:

"Have you seen my plexiglass window for the skidloader? It's not in the machine shed where I left it," Glen asked, then followed with, "Did you use it in the chicken coop?" It's his way of saying that because he can't find it, he figures I've used it for something.

I know that the simple act of asking someone about the missing item prompts one's own brain to somehow recall where the item was last placed. (I'm not sure why this works, but it seems like whenever I ask about something I've lost, I no more than finish my sentence when the "Aha! I know where it is!" hits me.)

However, I knew this wasn't the case. From past experience, I knew he wasn't just asking me if I'd seen it; this was his call for help. I knew I wasn't involved in the disappearance of the plexiglass window, but history has taught me that my assistance was most likely the only way the window would be recovered.

"No, I didn't use it in the chicken coop, but I'll go find it for you," I replied. Leaving the bottles I was washing in the milkhouse sink, I went up to the machine shed.

I methodically started scanning the items on the shelf below the workbench. It didn't take more than a minute to find the window sitting where Glen had stored it last spring.

I returned to the barn and reported my success to Glen: "I set it on the workbench for you."

"You were hiding it, weren't you!" he cried. That's generally his response every time I find something he's misplaced, so I joked back.

"Of course I was. I hid it right between the box of chain and the Sawzall."

"Oh," was all he said.

I went back to the milkhouse to finish my morning clean-up. I probably wouldn't be writing about this if Glen hadn't come into the milkhouse three minutes later.

"Have you seen my timer with the magnet, the one for timing the mixer?" the volley started.

"Yep. It's sitting right there on the desk by the breeding chart."

"I looked there, did you just put it there?"

"Nope. I haven't touched it. I saw it there when I made the BioPryn list. I'll go clip it to the wall, so you can see it."

These episodes really shouldn't surprise me, but I still get a good chuckle out of them. Chances are, Glen would have eventually found the plexiglass and the timer if he had looked a little harder, but, as it is, he figures asking me is the quickest way to find what he's missing. Maybe it's just that I'm a good 'finder'.

I think it's more than that, though. I think women in general have an inherent ability to find stationary objects; men just don't. It all goes back to our ancestors - the hunters and gatherers. Men did the hunting and women did the gathering.

The hunters were trained to notice movements - the flicker of a whisker or the twitch of an ear; movements that revealed an animal's hiding place. Men still have a hard time seeing things that aren't moving. I often jokingly reply to Glen's where-is-the-ketchup question with, "Should I make it wiggle so you can see it?"

Our ancestral gatherers were hardwired to remember where certain herbs and berries grew so they could return each year to stock their baskets. Herbs and berries don't move the way rabbits and deer move; women had to be able to distinguish them from their neighboring plants with only a glance. Today, that trait means women can open the fridge and immediately locate the ketchup amongst the shelves of bottles and bowls.

Our hunter and gatherer instincts show up in other areas, too.

For instance, Glen is really good at judging distance and time. Most men are. A trait most likely honed by eons of hunting for supper.

By contrast, I'm quite horrible at both. I have no concept of distance, and trying to estimate the amount of time it will take to get somewhere or do something is something I struggle with.

When Glen and I sit down for supper, he reaches for the meat and I reach for the veggies. Now this might be something of a learned behavior, but I'm pretty sure it's historically ingrained. I certainly don't crave bacon and steak the way Glen does.

Men are also pretty good at finding their way - another trait strengthened by hunting trips to remote areas in search of abundant wildlife. Glen can remember a route after only one trip. I usually need a map for the first couple trips.

Even though I find Glen's hunter behaviors perplexing at times, I wouldn't have it any other way. Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other and make us a better team. Just like the hunters and gatherers.