It was early morning. The ground was spongy from all of the rain the day before. It was perfect for finding earthworms close to the surface and for transplanting green growing things into new garden beds.
“So how did people like our book?” asked Gracie.
This surprised me because I had thought her mind would be focused on hunting for earthworms.
“Everyone who has read it has liked it a tremendous amount.”
“Then why do you look sort of sad?” she asked.
“Because the world needs more goodness in it than I think we will ever be able to give it. Now without Blanche, we are just five chickens and one old man. We can’t lay enough eggs or write enough books for the amount of goodness the world needs.”
Bessie had been listening in and got that serious look of hers. It’s the look she always gets when she has something very important to say. She hopped up onto my shoes. This is also what she does when she has something very important to say.
“So how many eggs in an omelet?” asked Bessie.
“And how many people will eat that omelet?”
“That’s a lot of chicken work to make one person happy,” she said. Gracie nodded with serious agreement.
There wasn’t much of anything I could say. Bessie and Gracie were right, but I didn’t understand what they were trying to tell me.
“So how many eggs in cupcakes?” asked Bessie.
“Three,” I said.
“Also three,” she said, almost as if she was correcting me. Obviously the “also” was important. “And how many cupcakes will those three eggs make?”
“That’s a lot better. More people will be happy for the same amount of chicken work.”
“You’re right, Bessie. And your fresh eggs make the best cupcakes.”
“So I guess it’s pretty obvious what you need to do now,” said Gracie.
“Well, no. Not really.” I started to feel like they were tag-team wrestling me into a logical conclusion. I just had no idea what it was. “Maybe you can help me to understand a little better?”
“It’s really simple chicken math,” explained Bessie. “With three eggs, we chickens are going to do the same amount of work whether those eggs get turned in to one omelette for one person or twenty four cupcakes for twenty-four people.”
“It’s more up to the person who gets the eggs as to what they do with them,” added Gracie. “They can make an omelette for just themselves or twenty four cupcakes for themselves and the people they know.”
“So it’s like there are ‘Omelette People’ and ‘Cupcake People’ in the world,” I suggested, still trying to grasp what seemed elementary to them. “But you can’t choose who gets your eggs. You can only choose to make the best eggs possible?”
“Exactly!” they clucked.
“That’s a different way of looking at things.”
“It’s the chicken way of looking at things,” they said together.
“If you are a writer, you make your best writings. If you are a drawer, you make your best drawings. Then you hope what you do will go to someone who will do the most good with it.
“Some people will make omelettes with it for only themselves. Some people will make cupcakes with it for their family and friends. You can only do what you can do. The rest is up to them.”
I tilted my head and looked at them while I thought this over. Then I realized I was doing exactly what they do when they are thinking over things I’ve explained to them. How amusing!
“So you think of your eggs as creative contributions to make the world a better place?”
“Yes. But the rest is up to people and what they do with what we have made for them.”
They stood looking up at me with all of the innocence of two just-hatched chicks and all of the wisdom of two well-aged hens.
“You know, I can’t imagine any two chickens more special than the two of you. Let’s go make some cupcakes…after we hunt for worms!”
My Life With Gracie made me hope more cupcakes than omelettes would come from our creative work.
Hopefully this will soon be available in paperback if all goes well!
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