Near the end of the day, I heard soft whispers.
“You ask him.”
“No, you ask him.”
“It was your idea.”
Finally, Bessie spoke up. “When you make our morning breakfast salad…tomorrow morning, that is…would you be able to include grated carrots?”
“I think so. Sure. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason in particular. It’s just we didn’t get any this morning or the morning before. We thought you might be out of them.”
“Oops. Sorry about that!”
“No worries,” she said. Then there was an almost uncomfortable pause. “And before you grate them, can you snap off the tip ends and put them in without grating them?”
“Yes, I guess so.” I was beginning to wonder why there were suddenly so many special requests. Usually my chickens are happy with whatever I give them. “Any reason why?”
There was a soft chorus of delighted chicken giggles.
“Do you think it would be okay if we have a little free range time before going up to roost for the night?” asked Gracie. “I will keep watch over everyone so you don’t have to. You can go in and start making your dinner if you’d like.”
At this point, I knew something was up because they were trying so hard to be nonchalant. “Thanks, Gracie. I think I will. You aren’t trying to get rid of me, are you?”
Gracie just smiled.
From the back window I watched. They were definitely collecting things from under the holly tree and shrubs. But they were being very secretive about it. Gracie and Bessie were trying to block my view, just in case I might be watching from the back window. (They know me very well, don’t they?)
Later, as I made sure they were in their coop securely for the night, Emily asked, “I was just wondering about this. So will there still be snow all night long the way you told us when we woke up this morning?”
“Yes, that’s right. Same forecast as this morning. You did have plenty to eat today, didn’t you? So you can stay extra warm tonight?”
“Oh, yes. I did.”
“Good. You’re the smallest, and I worry about you staying plenty warm, particularly on a cold and snowy night.”
“I will be fine,” she said.
There was another soft chorus of delighted chicken giggles.
“You girls snuggle up closer, and fluff out your feathers for more insulation.”
The next morning started like any other morning except it was colder and there was a blanket of snow in our yard and in part of the chicken run. When I returned home from work, I discovered what all of the secrecy had been about. They had prepared a surprise for me and had a great time doing it.
Much of this had been Bessie’s idea, I guessed, because she is the one I most expect would have said, “If there can be snowmen, why can’t there be ‘snowhens’ and ‘snowchicks’?” She is always concerned about fairness.
Still, it didn’t matter whose idea it was. It didn’t even matter how they had done it. What truly mattered was how they had simply enjoyed the anticipation and the doing. My joy in receiving their surprise was nothing compared to the joy they held in their hearts while preparing it.
I am at a time in my life when I don’t go searching for the delightful or for the extraordinary. Those joyful things come to me like freshly fallen snow. I anticipate them. I keep my eyes open. I look for ways to share them as my own surprises for others.
Even when there are no more chickens in my backyard to build snowhens and snowchicks in February, I know there will somehow be delightful surprises for me right outside my own backdoor. And I also know my chances of discovering those delightful surprises will be greatly increased by my willingness to give delightful surprises to others. This is probably one of the greatest secrets Bessie and my other chickens have shared with me. They give simply for the joy of giving. Love provides them with gifts to give.
My Life With Gracie taught me to look for and to create delightful (if only temporary) surprises.
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