Conversations With Amelia…The Words She Will Make

“Can I see those new drawings?” asked Amelia.

“Sure. What do you think?”

Amelia studied them carefully.

“They look very poetic.”

“You think so?”

“The colors are calmer and more contemplative. The lines are lighter and more meandersome.”

“Meandersome? Is that a real word?”

“It is if I make it one.”

“And how do you make it one?”

“By writing it,” she said. Then she paused to give more time for me to consider her words. “We need to be able to write.”

She had thought a great deal about this, just as she does with all important things.

“Of course,” I said. “Can you tell me a little more?”

“We need to be able to write.”

“I think I see now,” I said even though I really didn’t.

“I want to be a writer. And Emily does too.”

“What about if you tell me your stories, and I will write them down? I will put your names on them, not mine.”

“I want to make the words. They don’t have to be story words. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the writing.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not people say, ‘Oh, look at those clever chickens. Aren’t they just the most clever chickens ever?’ In fact, I would be happier if people didn’t even know.

“I want to be a writer. I want to make the words myself.”

“What exactly does ‘make the words’ mean?”

“I want to write poetry.”

“I see. That’s a fine thing to write. And it suits you.”

“You really think so?”

“I know so. There’s no better poet than a traveler like you. More importantly, you have seen the real world not only with your eyes, but with your heart as well.”

“That’s true. I never knew I could see with my heart until I flew to the moon and back. I would have never made it home again if I hadn’t been able to see with my heart. Is that what will make me a good poet?”

“Most definitely. Poets say a great deal with only a few words. You are quite good at that too.”

“I have always been a chicken of few words. Everyone says so.” Amelia’s comb blushed a little.

“Yes, and you choose your words very carefully. Still I do wonder how we will work it out so the two of you can write.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I mean you can’t really hold a pencil or a pen very well.”

“I’m not worried. You will help us.”

“And there is a whole alphabet of letters to learn and then a whole dictionary of words to learn.”

“I’m not worried. You will help us.”

It was pointless to mention any more of the challenges ahead of us. She had won me over, and she knew it.

“Yes, Amelia. I will help you.”

Amelia had believed all along that I would, but she did not take my love for granted. She had faith in me to help her, and so I had faith in her to be a writer, a very special kind of writer, a poet.

“We will find a typewriter for you.”

“Is that a real thing? Not a word you made?”

“It is a real thing. Many great writers of both stories and poems have used a typewriter.”

“How do you use this thing called a typewriter?”

“You do something called ‘hunt and peck.’ That’s all there is to it.”

All of the excitement that Amelia had been holding back, finally exploded with a joyful trill as she leapt into the air.

“I have always been a chicken who is good at both of those things!”

“Then you will be a most excellent poet indeed.”

I looked at the feathers scattered around. They would soon be blown away by the autumn winds, and with them will disappear so many memories of the lives which have given me such joy.

But my Amelia, the poet, will leave me her words, the words she will make.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

This story was inspired by several intersecting coincidences. I had been working on a different style of illustrations which would hopefully be lighter and feel more transient and reflect how I have been feeling about life in general.

Along with that, two of my favorite writers of poetry returned to posting their words on WordPress. Thank you, Will and Roxi and all of the other poets here on WordPress, for giving us more of your words.

My Life With Gracie…Revealing Reflections

Revealing Reflections

“That really doesn’t look so much like me,” said Emily in her most polite yet most matter-of-fact way.

“How can you be so sure? What I mean is, have you ever seen yourself?”

I had expected her to walk away and simply ponder these questions for a while and then forget all about the newest drawing I had made of her. At most, she might ask me to get a mirror so she really could see herself and maybe make her own self-portrait.

But she didn’t do any of those things. She had a ready answer.

“Yes, I have seen myself,” she said with complete certainty.

“Yes?”

“Yes, I see myself everyday when I look at my reflection in Amelia’s eyes. It happens when we are smiling at each other.”

This was a perfect answer because Amelia is Emily’s best friend. Her words had taken me by surprise and warmed my heart at the same time.

“I understand now. Without a doubt, that really is the best way to see yourself. In the eyes of your best friend. I like that.”

Emily smiled. She often smiles when we teach each other something new. She was definitely the teacher this time.

“If that’s how you see me, then I’m fine with it,” she said. “You did a nice job with the background. I look really well camouflaged, just like in real life.”

She was being so careful to keep my artist’s ego intact.

“Just one thing. Please?”

“Of course.”

“Would you work a little more on drawing iridescence?” she said. Her smile reassured me she was not at all bothered by her portrait.

“I will, Emily. I promise. But you know, I was trying to draw you more grown up. You changed a lot over the summer when you started making drawings for yourself. You’re more confident now, but still such a sweet little lady.”

She smiled again in her most charmingly playful way.

You may ask, and rightly so, how do chickens smile? This is a fair question. Anyone who has ever examined a chicken closely knows their beaks are hard and don’t bend or move the way our mouths do when we smile.

I can only recommend spending time with chickens, and then you will learn to recognize their smiles. This may take lots of time, but that is the way it is with most things of value. Eventually you will begin to recognize their smiles and they will recognize yours.

You will also learn the best way to see an image of yourself is just as Emily had said. Your truest portrait is not found in a drawing or painting or even a photograph. It is found in the reflection you will find in the eyes of someone who has called you their friend. No mirror is needed.

There are many things that someone can call you, but I believe “my friend” may be my most favorite one.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the best way to see myself.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! The reference to iridescence in today’s post is from our most popular post so far this year titled “True Iridescence.”

The biggest “not like Emily” things in this drawing are the feathers around her eyes. That’s not how face feathers grow on a chicken. But I like how drawing them this way emphasizes Emily’s eyes. She does have the biggest and most wide-open eyes of all my chickens. She sees everything! And although drawn incorrectly, they do echo the fall chrysanthemum blossoms in the background.

My Life With Gracie…Saturday Surprises!

Saturday Surprises

Here again is something a little different, and “Saturday Surprises!” seems to be the most appropriate name for this type of post. It’s just a glimpse into life here in our little backyard in the middle of a big city.

Last weekend we were energized by these tiny fragrant blossoms from our tea olive, or sweet osmanthus. It started out as just about a foot and a half tall when I bought it several years ago. It is now over five feet tall.

If it had not been blooming at the time when I saw it at the nursery, I would have walked right by it because the leaves are similar to many other plants. You may want to watch for this plant in your local nursery, but check the label if it’s not blooming season. Otherwise you may miss it. This would make a great addition to your yard and is very low maintenance. (Basically just plant it in a good spot. How nice is that?!?)

These blossoms are extremely small, but they put out a sweet fragrance that fills most of our yard. The smell is said to resemble peaches or apricots, but I think it is something else entirely unique. In some countries the blossoms are added to green or black tea leaves, which is likely why it is often called tea olive. (It does not have any fruit like the regular olive.)

The only wish I have for this plant is for the bloom time to be longer than its four to five days. But I am grateful for the joy it brought us all last weekend, and so this weekend, I’m reliving that joy by sharing this with you.

For most of the year, it is just another evergreen in the landscape, but when it blooms, it is amazing! Amazing! I have it planted in the side yard so that it can greet me before I even see it when I come home at the end of the day. It makes almost as joyful a “Welcome Home!” as my chickens make!

It definitely has an invigorating effect on my chickens as well. Their “Welcome Home!” greetings always seem a little more extreme when the tea olive is blooming! Or maybe they are just catching some of my enthusiasm?!

My wish for you is that you will find joy in the smallest of wonders wherever they may be. Often the small things in life provide a most amazing and overpowering experience.

I wish I could have described the fragrance of these blossoms much better. But then again, maybe there are some things which are so extraordinary in life that they defy description and can only be experienced? Perhaps this is one of them.