This illustration is based on my fourth “My Life With Gracie” drawing. It is still one of my favorites because it is the first one of Gracie dancing. You can see this illustration has a lot more happening!
Pomegranate seeds are a treat my chickens enjoy in autumn. These are never passed up, and that is what made me wonder if there was something wrong.
For a few weeks, I’ve noticed leftover corn kernels or fruit pieces in their run at the end of the day when I went to secure them in their coop for the night. I had just assumed they were given too much, more than they could eat. But the leftovers were gone in the morning.
This was a bit of a mystery, but I really didn’t give it much thought until the leftovers included some of their prized pomegranate seeds. What was going on?
So as I was making sure everyone was snugly in their coop for the night, I questioned Gracie about this. At first she seemed a bit embarrassed as they all looked at each other, unsure what to say.
Finally Gracie explained it had been her idea for them to leave food behind for the field mice who visit them at night. With all of the rain we have had, it was more difficult for them to gather food for themselves and their little ones.
So I quickly told them not to worry because they had been doing a wonderful kindness.
All looked quite relieved, and moved a bit closer to me when I said, “You know, that sounds like something The Rose Garden Princess would do.”
And just like that, we were all wrapped up in Gracie’s dream.
(For those of you who are new readers, Gracie wants to be a ballerina more than just about anything, and “The Rose Garden Princess” is a ballet project we are creating for her.)
Yes, kindness to strangers and wanderers is an ancient tradition of the Princesses who live in The Great Garden. (Feather’s rustled happily because they all could be princesses for the ballet.)
“Remember when you had no home of your own” is ancient chicken wisdom once heard long ago and passed down from momma hens to chicks. (Suddenly there were disappointed expressions on every face. But why? Then I realized they remembered never having a momma hen to teach them anything.)
I paused the story to let them know how proud I was of them for knowing this on their own without the guidance of a momma hen. They were all truly wise chickens indeed. (Everyone smiled and sat a bit taller. They were definitely feeling their parts in the ballet.)
And so one autumn evening the hungry field mice scampered into The Great Garden and began to jump and run about, grabbing scraps of food that the Princesses had not eaten. The Princesses were startled and became frantic because their peaceful garden home was being overrun by mice. (Together they pretended to be surprised in the most adorable way.)
Although much smaller, the field mice moved much faster and could hide in the tiniest and most unexpected places. More than either of those things, they were scary because they were different. They didn’t have beaks and wings. Instead they had sharp teeth and grabbing hands! (Serious shivers spread from one chicken to another, and Emily hid her head under her wing. Pearl hid her head under Blanche’s wing.)
But do you know what The Rose Garden Princess did? (Everyone leaned forward to hear better. Gracie moved closest of all, even though she started to feel a draft where her fluff feathers had molted.)
The Rose Garden Princess made promises with the field mice. They could come each evening to collect food left for them. In return the field mice would use their teeth to cut flowers from the garden and hold them as banners when The Rose Garden Princess and the other Princesses danced in the moonlight. (Joyful wings applauded along the perch at this delightful turn of events!)
Although it took a great deal of practice, what a grand and amazing dance it was! Some of the smallest field mice entered first, scampering and leaping in unison. They were joined by more field mice who carried flowers like banners. Then the Princesses began to dance onto the stage.
It all made for a great and dramatic spectacle, unfolding in The Great Garden as more and more mice and more and more Princesses joined in the procession. Mice carrying daisies, and then the Daisy Princesses. Mice carrying daffodils, and then the Daffodil Princesses. On and on it went, and each seemed more beautiful than the last.
Finally when everyone was certain there was no way for the dance to be any more breathtaking, The Rose Garden Princess appeared! (My chickens could not hold back their enthusiasm any longer. The sounds of their delight filled my little backyard garden.)
We all said “good night,” and they huddled closer together for warmth. It was going to be a chilly night, but not in our hearts.
There were a few still-excited whispers about who would dance as Daisy Princesses and who would dance as Daffodil Princesses and so on. Everyone was unanimous only Gracie could be The Rose Garden Princess as she had already led them in showing unselfish kindness towards others.
My Life With Gracie taught me always to have a generous and welcoming heart.
I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Right now I am revisiting some of my earlier cartoon illustrations and giving them a different twist.