Jumping For Joy

Jumping For Joy

In the past, I’ve written about how Blanche and Pearl are different from the other chickens. Perhaps their biggest difference is their joyfulness. They absolutely jump for joy!

It’s part of who they are. They can’t help it, and when they do, everyone else needs to watch out because there is no telling where they will land. There are even times when I think they are trying to do flips in midair!

Is it a single thing which makes them jump for joy? I’m unsure. There are times when I think it must be something building up throughout the day, culminating in an unexpected explosive burst of energy and delight.

Lately I think it’s the daffodils doing it to them. Their bright yellow color just pushes them over the edge of sensory excitement after enjoying the warmth of the sunlight, the calls of the morning songbirds, and the sweet earthy smells of the river. What else could it be?

In a few months, the Japanese Iris will be blooming. They make a spectacular show lasting a bit more than a week.

Before then, the camellias will have bloomed and shed their blossoms to make the most exquisite carpet imaginable of white and pink and red. It will be deep and soft and so much fun for playing, especially if you are a chicken with a joyful heart!

Could anything made by human hands compare? I don’t think so. But it’s all in how you look at it: a slowly browning mess to clean up or an impressionistic painting made from camellia petals. The choice is up to the beholder, and my chickens and I choose beauty and joy!

There is nothing which gives me more beauty and joy in my backyard garden than my chickens. What amazes me about this is how they have no idea how much joy wells up in my heart when I even just think about them and how beautiful they are.

We are all surrounded by and a part of an immense creation with infinite ways of appreciating and responding! Whether you jump for joy (like Blanche and Pearl) or quietly contemplate (like Gracie), nurture the wonder you have in your heart. Go find some daffodils and get deliriously daffy!

Remember you came into this world with only yourself and your ability to love and find joy in the beauty around you. Remember too, if you dare to believe it, you give more beauty and joy than you will ever know just by being you.

My Life With Gracie makes me “daffy for daffodils”!

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

Air Shadows

Air Shadows

This is the next in a series about Gracie’s dream of one day being a ballerina. It follows this portion of the story which introduces the field mice.

The cold and the rain were beginning to feel as if they would never leave us. Even though the chickens were all dry under their covered run and coop, moisture seemed to permeate everything.

Under our shelter we all looked out at the morning sky. It was gray and dreary. I had two jackets on for extra warmth. My chickens all had their feathers fluffed up to trap insulating air. They gathered close to me, their favorite windbreak.

The daffodils were sagging from the overnight rain, but I felt so thankful for their bright burst of intense yellow, a promise of spring’s eventual arrival.

“So the Daffodil Princesses were practicing their newest and grandest leaps one day, when the field mice arrived with news,” I began.

Suddenly we were all transported into Gracie’s ballet dream.

They were late in arriving for practice, and this was quite unlike them. Holding up flowers for the pageantry of the ballet was something they eagerly anticipated.

They scurried back and forth through the leaping legs of the Daffodil Princesses while trying to get their attention. The Princesses were completely swept up in the beauty of their dance, leaping and flapping higher and higher.

When their dance was finished with a graceful bow and a folding of their wings over their heads, the Daffodil Princesses finally listened to the alarming news brought by the field mice.

(Everyone huddled closer around my chair.)

The Evil King Of Darkest Night had discovered The Great Garden.

(Everyone took a deep breath and held it.)

The Evil King Of Darkest Night didn’t dance, and he didn’t leap. He would just slowly drag his big hulking body slowly and awkwardly while devouring everything in his path. A gray and dreary Air Shadow surrounded him wherever he went.

(Six pairs of eyes stared unblinkingly at me, waiting for whatever might come next.)

“What is an Air Shadow?” asked Emily. “If I’m going to be afraid, I need to know what I’m afraid of so I can watch out for it.”

“No one really knows,” I said in my most mysterious voice. “Only when it passes by, the leaves wither and turn brown and the flowers crumble into ashes.”

(Everyone seemed satisfied with this answer even though it didn’t make any of them less fearful.)

The field mice were bringing news of how The Evil King Of Darkest Night was making his way to the very center of the garden where all of The Garden Princesses live…including The Rose Garden Princess.

(Immediately six pairs of eyes shut tightly.)

“Tell me when it’s over!” whispered Emily.

“Where is the Great Farmer in all of this?” demanded Amelia. “Why doesn’t he stop all of this from happening?”

The others clucked in agreement.

“Why doesn’t he rush in with a rake like you do when there are predators right here in our own backyard?” asked Bessie, who has always been a brave defender of the flock when I’m away.

“Or with a hoe like you did with the snake that time?” added Gracie.

“I’ll bet there isn’t even a Great Farmer in this ballet,” mumbled Emily. “They are all doomed, and us with them.”

“Hey! You’re trying to make the Great Farmer into the bad guy instead of the real bad guy, The Evil King Of Darkest Night!” protested Pearl who usually doesn’t take things like this seriously at all. She did make a good point. It there was a Great Garden, there had to be a Great Farmer.

It was interesting to see how their murmurings made them less fearful. They weren’t gathered tightly together around my feet any longer. Instead they were walking around and flapping their wings and stretching out their necks to discuss whether or not they even needed a Great Farmer to rush in and rescue the Garden Princesses.

All were debating except for Emily who stayed close to me.

“Emily, why do you think there won’t be a Great Farmer of the Great Garden in this ballet?”

She seemed a little stunned by this question, and I could see she was thinking it through. Being the smallest and most timid, she would have the most to lose if there ever was an Evil King Of Darkest Night who found our own little backyard garden.

“Maybe it’s because…” she began.

The others stopped their wing-flapping and neck-stretching and looked at Emily.

“I’m not sure, but I think maybe…maybe it’s because even though he really is there and he will rescue them if necessary…”

I looked right into Emily’s insecure little eyes and said softly, “Go on. I think you just might be onto something there.”

Emily stood a little taller. “But he knows they have to realize for themselves whether or not they will be able to stand up to The Evil King Of Darkest Night first. Maybe it’s so the Garden Princesses can find out what they are like on the inside and when they truly do need help.”

It was quiet for the longest moment, and then Emily realized she may have said something quite profound.

“So it sounds like you’re saying The Great Farmer isn’t going to be much like me, your old Chicken Daddy, because I get crazy with a rake or a hoe every time anything even looks like it’s going to threaten you. Right?”

Everyone began to laugh, even me. I know I have looked absolutely ridiculous so many times. You would never be able to count the times I have rushed in to be their rescuer, swinging a rake or a hoe over my head to chase animals out of our yard. The neighbors must have been laughing hysterically behind their curtains every time too!

And so we would continue on another day, grateful for that day being a bit less dreary because we had each other.

My Life With Gracie taught me life is full of opportunities to find out what we are made of on the inside and when we need help.

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