My Life With Gracie…More Alike Than We Realize

More Alike Than We Realize

My time with my chickens in the cool of the evening after work is something I look forward to each day. No matter how difficult the day has been, everything is quickly forgotten.

Even though Amelia is very independent-minded, lately she has been spending more time with me than usual. She will stand and look up at me and speak to me in a very low almost hushed voice. She tells me her secret thoughts.

I will tell her softly, “Amelia, I have good news for you. You and I are more alike than you realize.”

Then she will turn her back on me and hurry off to another place.

Soon, she will return and share more of her secrets.

Again I will tell her softly, “Amelia, you and I are more alike than you realize.”

Then she will turn her back on me and hurry off to another place again, but she will not wait nearly as long to come back and tell more of her secrets.

We will repeat this routine with each of her times away from me getting shorter and shorter, and then finally she will stay.

“Amelia, you and I are more alike than you realize,” I will tell her.

Her heart takes its own time in accepting this as true. Then I tell her some of my secrets, and she does not doubt any longer.

We can do this for days in a row, almost as if it was a game she has made up. Sometimes it feels as if we are starting all over again at a place of doubt. But it doesn’t matter. Eventually I know she will come and stay with me without hurrying off to another place. This is simply her process for understanding love and belonging.

Having been adopted by me six months into her life has something to do with this. She just needs extra assurance this is her forever home.

“I would not give you up for anything,” I tell her.

“Not even for six bags of sunflower kernels?” she asks.

Amelia can only count to six. That is all of the toes that she has. For her, six is the highest number there is. There is no higher number.

“Not even for six and then six more,” I always tell her as if it is one of my own secrets.

She closes her eyes with a quizzical expression whenever I tell her this. She looks as if she is trying to imagine that many, but she can’t. Then she will always smile because she knows however many it is, it is a great amount.

“You are mine and I am yours for as long as you want it to be that way,” I tell her.

Then she will say to me, “Yes, we are more alike than I realize.”

My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) reminded me we are more alike than we realize.

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Lately I have been working on what I hope will be our next book titled “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” It continues to be a good yet challenging project. 

I have readers of all faiths and even no faith at all, and so there has to be a message for everyone.

As I think through this, maybe, just maybe, on that very first Christmas Day so long ago, Love was no longer far off, distant, and unknowable. Maybe, just maybe, Love was right here with us in warm, tender, and fragile human flesh.

Then maybe Love could at last say to people, “We are more alike than you realize.”

True Iridescence

True Iridescence

“Why do you always draw me small? Like I’m still a just-hatched chick?” asked Emily as she peered over my sketch pad.

I thought about this for a moment because I wasn’t completely sure how to answer.

“I draw everyone as a just-hatched chick sometimes, even Gracie.”

“Yes, I know, but you’ve never drawn me as a grown-up hen with my comb and wattles and everything.”

“That’s true.”

“So?”

Emily is seldom persistent like this. She only gets this way when it’s something really important like when everyone else isn’t giving her space to eat breakfast salad or mealworms. It is not always easy for her because she is the smallest.

“Maybe part of the reason is I never really saw you growing up every day like the others. I used to visit you and Amelia when you were little. You probably don’t remember because the world was so new to you then, but I did.

“There were twenty-four of you in that huge brooder box and playpen. There was so much going on all of the time. It was tough to keep track of who was who, except for Amelia. She liked to fly up to the top of the play pen and walk around.”

“Yes, I remember. There were a lot of us. But I didn’t stand out from the others did I? Not the way Amelia did?”

Her heart would have loved for me to say I had picked her out right from the beginning as a very special baby chick, but I had to be truthful.

“What matters is how you stand out now. Even with people, it’s not easy to see who is special in a crowd. It takes time and time together.”

“So it’s not because I’m smaller than all of the others?”

“No, not at all.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Well, when I draw you so young, it helps me imagine you as if you had always lived here with me from your very first day. Sometimes I wish you and Amelia had been here with me from the beginning.

“But if you had been here with me from the beginning, I would not have been able to choose you. I like how I was able to choose you because of who you are rather than who you might become after you got here.”

She seemed pleased with all of this and turned to look for sunflower kernels.

“And Emily, to be totally honest, I’m not sure I can draw your grown-up hen feathers as beautifully as they truly need to be drawn. I don’t know how to draw iridescence, and everything about you is iridescent.”

She stood a little taller and poked out her breast a little farther. “You always know exactly what to say.”

“I just speak from my heart, Emily, and my heart adores everything about you.”

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the biggest hearts are often covered with iridescent feathers.

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