My Life With Gracie…Saturday Surprises!

Here is something a little different for you, our readers, and “Saturday Surprises!” seems to be the most appropriate name for this type of post. This morning when I went out to welcome my chickens into their new day after the passing of Hurricane Dorian, I found some bright and cheerful morning glory blossoms had beat me to it.

These had been slowly growing up the chicken wire, and today they have decided they like this spot and it is time to bloom. They are one of the most beautiful shades of blue there is. I thought it interesting that this is practically the same blue that I used in parts of Monday’s illustration about the hurricane that was coming our way. Sometimes life has coincidences like this, I believe, to remind us that neither the bad times nor the good times remain forever.

Everything around us may change, but pure and simple beauty, such as the beauty of the color blue, will remain the same.

Yesterday afternoon, I was able to leave work early, and when I finally got home, my chickens were glad to see me. They had huddled together in a protected corner under their coop. I quickly changed into my “chicken clothes” and sat on the ground inside their run area with them.

They gathered around me, and Amelia tugged at my jeans. This means she needs to be picked up and hugged, and of course, that is exactly what I did. We all sat there together in our little huddle and watched the wind as it swayed the tree limbs. Only occasionally would it blow some rain in where we were. (Their garden home is very sheltered, and I add additional barriers during bad weather.)

Then Emily and Gracie decided it would be a good time to scratch around for something to eat. Amelia decided she had enough hugging and decided to join them. (After all hugging is for silly little baby chicks, isn’t it? Definitely not for big independent grown-up hens like Amelia!)

Life had returned to normal, even while the hurricane was as close to our home as it was going to get before heading out towards the Atlantic Ocean. I’m sure that there are several life lessons in all of this, and I may write about them another day. For now, I’m just grateful for this new and surprising day!

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

My Life With Gracie…More Than What We Are Right Now

More Than What We Are Right Now

Recently someone asked me, “Is Gracie your chicken or your wife?”

I replied, “Gracie is one of my absolutely amazing chickens. She is a beautiful Buff Orpington with a very gracious heart which is why she is named Gracie.”

My own heart enjoyed this question, though I am not completely sure why. I hoped this had been asked because the questioner found a special love in my words and illustrations.

I remember once, a little more than twenty-four years ago, when someone had told me, “We can never be anything more than what we are right now.”

Those words come back to me today, almost as clearly as when they were spoken on that front porch swing. It was a summer night, warm with only a light breeze. A golden retriever lay nearby, listening and trying to figure out what those words meant.

The most fragile realities seem to be the ones which depend the most on other people.

And so I wonder if that has anything to do with why I love Gracie so much. She gives me the dream of having someone to come home to, and I give her the dream of being someone to come home to…and of dancing ballet.

As long as there are stories and drawings, Gracie and I will surely be more than what we are right now…L’artiste et son beau poulet dansant…The artist and his beautiful dancing chicken.

I could tell there was still something troubling her. “What else do you want to know, Gracie?”

“In the ballet book, can you draw a picture of me dancing with you in the streets of Paris? I don’t think we will ever really get to dance there together.”

“Of course, Gracie. Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.”

From “Seasons Of Friendship”

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Today is my 62nd birthday, and today just seemed to be the best day to share this story and illustration.

Beautiful Things

Beautiful Things

This is part of a series I’ve shared from time to time about Amelia and how she wants to be the first chicken to fly to the moon and back. Here is the most recent posting if you are a new reader or just want a refresher before reading today’s story.

“Those are really nice. What are they for?” Emily was examining some of my flower drawings.

“They are part of a Hatchday surprise for Gracie and Bessie.”

“You know I love our garden home. I love watching things bloom and grow.”

“Yes, I know. Whenever we have free-range time in the backyard and garden, you’re always the one who walks down the garden paths before scratching for any bugs.”

“The bugs will always be there, but the flowers are only with us for a season.”

“You know, Emily, you are a bit of a philosopher.”

“I don’t know what I am other than a chicken. Everyone else has a special interest. Gracie has ballet. Bessie has cooking. Pearl has comedy. Blanche has eating. I don’t have anything.”

“You didn’t mention Amelia.”

“I know.”

“Why?”

“Because she wants to fly away and be an explorer. She is going to be the first chicken to fly to the moon and back.”

“And she will leave you behind?”

Emily looked down at her feet.

“I’m afraid she’s going to leave me forever. She is the only friend I’ve known for my whole life. It’s not easy for me to make new friends. I’m small.”

“I know. But as hard as it is on you thinking about Amelia maybe leaving, it could be even harder on Amelia. If we love her, we can’t stand in her way or make her feel guilty.”

Emily sank to the ground. It was as if the weight of all this was more than she could bear.

“This may be the most difficult thing you and I will ever have to do. But we will have to do it for Amelia.”

Emily raised her head and looked off into the camellias where the song birds like to build their nests. “Sometimes I want to tell her not to go,” she said, raising her voice almost in anger, but she held back.

“Sometimes I want to beg her to please take me with her,” she said softly as if to cry.

“But I know I can’t go with her. I wouldn’t survive. I’m not as strong as she is. I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’m smaller, and I’d only hold her back. She would be so worried about protecting me that she might lose her focus and get hurt herself. I can’t let that happen.”

She rested her head on my shoe, and we sat together for a while, neither of us saying anything.

“Emily, it is a beautiful gift and sacrifice you are willing to give Amelia.”

“What do you mean?” She looked up at me, unaware of her own goodness.

“I mean if you asked her, she would take you with her, and you would be happy. But you know it would risk her life. So you don’t ask. You are giving up your happiness to let her do what she must do to find her own happiness.”

“I love her so much.”

I nodded in silent agreement.

“She will always be our Amelia. But we must remember she must always be her own Amelia first.”

After a long silence, Emily said, “I like the daffodils.”

“They really are bright and cheerful, aren’t they? Are they your favorite? We can plant even more of them if they are your favorite.”

“I’m not sure if I have a favorite.”

“Yes, I know what you mean. A big part of designing a nice garden is putting different things side-by-side so everything looks like it belongs together. One plant compliments another one, just like you and Amelia compliment each other even though you look different.”

“Do you think we can plant more of everything? And make it so there are flowers blooming all of the time?”

“That sounds like a beautiful idea. But why blooming all of the time?”

“So maybe when Amelia has flown up to the moon, she can look back down and see all of the flowers here in our yard. And so maybe she will discover she misses them. I don’t think they have flowers on the moon.”

She took a deep breath and whispered very hopefully, “And so maybe she will discover she misses us too.”

“Emily, I think she already misses us, even though she hasn’t left yet.”

She considered this carefully and said, “Then I think all of the flowers will help Amelia find her way back to us. She will know which house is ours by all of the flowers everywhere.”

She had a more determined tone in her voice which was good to hear. I stood up and reached for my shovel.

“Emily, you can help with adding more flowers, whatever kinds you’d like. Maybe gardening is your special interest. For today, let’s divide and transplant the Japanese Iris. They are just starting to come up, and now is the time before it’s too late.”

Emily seemed happy to be doing something to help move forward in her own way. She began searching for a new and perfect spot for them. “I think they are one of Amelia’s favorites. They are beautifully tall and slender. They reach for the sky just like she does.”

“You’re right.” I agreed.

I started digging and Emily started scratching in the spot she had chosen. It was nice to see her putting her worries aside for a time.

“And Emily, I can guarantee there are absolutely no Japanese Iris plants on the moon.”

Emily was delighted to hear this.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me beautiful things always help you find your way back home.

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