My Life With Gracie…A Season For Hands

A Season For Hands

This illustration is based on a previous “My Life With Gracie” drawing which has a blank neutral background. Each gives a different perspective.

Chickens love to be up high, and it is still a bit of a thrill for me to see one of them fly up to a perch above the others. Everyone has their favorite spot for perching. Bessie’s is my chair!

This love of heights all started when they are actually just chicks. They want to be on top of something, anything really, and look down. They feel safe. They feel accomplished. The entire world is just a hop and a flap away…or so they believe!

Children are like that too, at least at first, believing anything is possible for them.

But there are some cold hard realities in our world. For some, “anything is possible” becomes “something is possible” becomes “nothing is possible.”

Inside each homeless person you see on the street, inside each of us actually, is a child who at one time wanted so much to believe anything was possible for them.

Perhaps what scares us about someone less fortunate is we don’t want to face the possibility we could have been born as them. Maybe that is why we keep our distance, push them away, or don’t help when we could.

Unlike people, chickens don’t have the ability to help each other to do much of anything. Without hands, they can’t nudge or push or lift up each other. They only have wings to flap.

As baby chicks, Bessie was more advanced than Gracie. Bessie wanted to help, but all she was able to do was flap her wings and “peep” encouragement until her hatch-mate reached their new higher perch. She would hop and flap up, hop down. Hop and flap up, hop down. All the time peeping as if to say, “Do this! Just do this!”

If that didn’t work, she would try again later, and again and again if needed, until they were able to sit and admire the view from their higher perch together, side-by-side as friends. Bessie did the best she could without any hands to help Gracie who was much more timid and afraid. This was because of her hatching defects which made thing like this difficult.

Bessie never abandoned Gracie. I do believe she would have given up the wings she loves so much for a pair of hands if she could have used them to help Gracie get up to the highest possible perch alongside her.

Chicken world is not people world. But too often people world is not what people world could be and should be.

We can just stand on the sidelines “flapping and peeping” by offering only thoughts, prayers, and encouraging words…or we can instead use our hands, even if they get a little dirty and calloused, to help lift up someone who struggles to be where we are.

Regardless of our faith traditions, we can make a difference during this season of holidays.

My Life With Gracie made me appreciate being able to use my hands to lift up others.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

A Season For Hands

My Life With Gracie…Perhaps The Perfect Gift

Perhaps The Perfect Gift

This illustration is based on a previous “My Life With Gracie” drawing which has a blank neutral background. Each gives a different perspective.

Thanksgiving Day makes it official each year. The holiday season has begun. For most people it is time to share a meal together with friends and family. It often also means sharing gift lists or at least gift hints for whichever wintertime holiday is next to be celebrated.

Some people, I believe, just seem to have a talent for always giving “the perfect gift.” For me, it is an elusive skill. Gifts never seem to work out as wonderfully as I imagine they will.

Yet this weekend, my chickens and I gave each other the perfect gift. We just sat with each other and enjoyed a pleasantly sunny Sunday afternoon.

With the changing time and fewer sunlight hours, there is little light when I leave for work and even less when I get home. There are no long pleasant summer evenings or shorter brisk fall evenings to sit and discuss what is on our minds or share what is in our hearts.

So Sunday afternoon was a wonderful and most perfect gift. It was our time to be, simply be, together.

It was exactly what all of us needed, and particularly Amelia who waited until the others had gone to take dust baths to have a private conversation alone with me.

For a moment and perhaps longer, I thought of how quickly time was passing. Her time and my time will one day end.

Perhaps chickens know this from the beginning, but it takes people longer to realize.

Even as little chicks, they had their special best friends with whom to perch on their favorite brick. Everything is right with the world when they are perched way up high on a brick with their best buddies! They value each moment together.

When Amelia and Emily came to live with me, all they brought with them was each other. That was all they had, and it was enough. How different the world of people would be if we never cared about taking things with us, and only cared about taking people we love with us.

Amelia and Emily will always spend time perching together, like Blanche and Pearl, like Gracie and Bessie. Mostly they just sit and share the experience of enjoying the world around them. Like old friends, though not really very old at all, they give each other comfort, warmth, and time together.

Perhaps the greatest gift we could ever give or receive is simply time together as friends.

What a terrible heartbreak it would be if we were to hear as someone’s last private words to us, “Couldn’t you spend just one hour with me?”

My Life With Gracie made me wonder if an invitation to perch might be a perfect gift.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Perhaps The Perfect Gift

My Life With Gracie…An Uncomfortable Truth

An Uncomfortable Truth

It had to come out sometime, but I still always kept the hope of never having to discuss it. Bessie was the first to find out. She was flabbergasted. People eat chicken eggs.

The topic came up after I helped Bessie put on the master chef’s hat and apron I had made for her. We were discussing how she wanted to help people learn to cook things like roasted pumpkin seeds for their chickens.

Then we started talking about corn which chickens also like, and I shared how people enjoy corn and cornbread. Bessie had never had cornbread, only corn. So she asked what was in cornbread.

Cornmeal. Wheat flour. A little sugar because we are in the south. Baking powder. Butter and buttermilk from cows. (We did have to take a side trip to discuss cows because by not being on a farm, none of them had ever seen a cow.) And, of course, eggs.

The word was out of my mouth before I had a chance to think. Eggs.

After a very long explanation, Bessie found peace with the uncomfortable truth of people (including me, their own Chicken Daddy) eating eggs. I will never forget her still-baffled voice when she said, “And all along, we thought you were just tidying up the nesting boxes!”

It did help to let her know without Lefty or The Emperor around, their eggs would never have real chicks inside to hatch. It also helped letting her know the people who received their eggs were truly grateful for all of their hard work and dedication. Everyone, absolutely everyone, said their eggs were superior in every way.

“This changes everything,” she said as she turned and walked away. “I’d better let the others know.”

After the longest time, she came back and began to set down certain rules while standing on my foot to make sure I had her full attention.

“If people are going to eat our eggs, then they’d better serve them on the best possible plates they’ve got in the house. No exceptions.”

So I brought out one of my Blue Willow plates for approval by all six chickens. I explained it was one my grandparents had owned and how I had eaten off it since I was a little boy. They were my favorite and most treasured plates.

Blue Willow Plate

Their unanimous decision was these plates would be suitable, particularly since they had two young chickens flying in the air. (Yes, I know these are actually not supposed to be chickens, and I know chickens can’t fly that way. But sometimes it’s not always wise to share too many uncomfortable truths in a single day.)

“If people are going to eat our eggs, then they’d better know how to cook them properly. No sloppy cooking.”

I reassured Bessie we would test every single one of her recipes until it was perfect in every possible way. I did let her know it might be wise to not completely guarantee success because not everyone would be able to use eggs produced by her and the others. We had mutual agreement about how less than superior eggs could produce less than superior results.

Then Bessie began to tell more about what she wanted to do as a master chef and the kinds of recipes she would like to share. She had originally wanted only recipes like roasted pumpkin seeds for people to make for their chickens, but now she also wanted recipes for people to make for themselves.

Her ideas were expansive and so very beautiful, designed to honor their eggs and all they did to produce them. She even wanted to create recipes that could be made for both chickens and people. I was amazed at her graciousness so soon after discovering what happens with eggs.

“One more rule. If people are going to eat our eggs, then there have to be pictures with the recipes, and I’m going to draw them so anybody, even a child, can follow my recipes.”

My eagerness to discover what would come next grew, but Bessie would say no more. She had clearly taken control over anything food-related and now drawing-related too!

All I could think to say was, “Yes, Chef.” And we both smiled.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Bessie) expanded my heart to new and unexpected possibilities.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! This is the first post from a series. You may want to skip to the next post about Bessie’s dream of being a master chef.

An Uncomfortable Truth