This story may become part of the book I hope to write about Amelia’s journey to find out if she can be lost but not afraid. It is a “fast forward” from the last part I shared here with you. Writing from a first person point of view as I do, I can’t go on the trip with her. This leaves Emily and me here at home. But it also provides a chance for Emily to explore and grow without leaving home.
Amelia had been gone for some time, longer than expected. Early spring had turned to early summer.
It was a lazy kind of Sunday afternoon, and I had decided to clean out part of the garage. I had asked Emily if she wanted to come and watch, but she didn’t seem interested. She still missed Amelia very much.
Eventually Emily wandered in and flew up to the highest thing stacked on my workbench. It was a safe spot out of the way where she would have a chance to see all that was there. And there was a lot there.
“What is that?” Emily asked. “It know that smell, but not that shape.”
“I’m not sure what you mean. There’s a lot of stuff on this workbench.”
She hopped down from her perching spot and pecked to point at a yellow and red box.
“Oh, that’s chalk. You use it to make marks on things.”
“Chickens are very good at making marks. Can I look at it? I won’t mess it up. I promise.”
“Sure, and even if you do mess it up, it’s okay because I don’t need it any more.”
Emily pulled out a piece of chalk. It was just a little short stub of a piece. She looked worried.
“It’s okay, You didn’t mess it up. And even if you did, it breaks really easily anyway.”
“This tastes like oyster shells. Just like you put in our dry food.”
“Yes, chalk is made out of seashells too. Do you know why I put oyster shells in your dry food?”
“It’s so you’ll have enough calcium when you make your eggs. The same thing that’s on the outside of the eggs you lay is in the oyster shells and in the chalk.”
“Yes. Your little body is amazing, isn’t it?”
“The chalk is white, and the oyster shell is white. But my eggs are brown. Why is that?”
“Well they are only brown on the outside. Underneath the brown, they are white.”
“So how does that brown get there on the outside?”
I looked around the garage and found an old can of spray paint. When I shook it up, the little ball inside rattled. Emily was fascinated with this.
“Is that thing rattling around in there something to eat?”
“No. And it wouldn’t taste very good either if you tried.”
“Does it make that sound because it has an egg inside?”
“Not exactly. It’s a little ball.”
“You aren’t going to shake me up are you?” she asked in a silly kind of way, knowing that would never happen.
I found a scrap of wood. “Let’s go outside. We don’t want to use this inside.”
I sprayed the wood with the paint. “Sort of like this. See.” Where the wood had been a pale sandy color, it was now brown.
She examined it closely and shook her head because the paint fumes smelled strange, even outside.
“I don’t like that. I don’t have one of those cans in me. Do I?”
“No, Sweetie, you don’t. You just have something in you that paints pretty brown pigment on your eggs before you lay them. It just sort of works like the can with the ball inside.”
“Pig mint? Like a plant pigs eat?”
“Emily, you are so much fun. ‘Pig mint’ is two words. ‘Pigment’ is one word. It means tiny little pieces of color.”
“I see. Can I have it? The chalk I mean, not the smelly can of pigment. If you don’t want it?”
“Of course you can. And I will find some paper for you to draw on too.”
She looked far away into the sky and then up into my eyes. “Will you draw with me?”
I could clean the garage another day. I could make phone calls and read books and do plenty of other things another day. But how many days does a person get to draw with a chicken, especially a chicken as special as Emily?
I found some colorful paper stored in a portfolio up in the loft part of the garage. Then Emily and I sat down on the cool concrete of the garage floor, and we drew.
It was great fun watching her draw. She held the chalk in her beak and would make a set of side-to-side marks in one spot with the chalk. Then she would hop up and turn in another direction and make another set of side-to-side marks in a different spot.
I copied the kinds of marks she was making on different parts of the paper. The only difference was I didn’t hop up and turn in another direction the way Emily did. I just turned the paper.
We stopped when we had filled the paper. Chickens are very thorough like that.
We propped our drawing up against the workbench so we could step back and look at it.
“Those white chalk marks on the blue paper sort of look like clouds, don’t they, Emily?”
“They do. They really do!”
She was very pleased with the drawing, and she was more pleased that we had made it together.
“I want to draw Amelia,” she said.
My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) made me rethink my priorities. Today there is someone who would rather do something with you more than anything else.
Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!