Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 4)

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp

Summer Drawing Camp has definitely been good for Emily. Her artwork has helped her to be more self-confident as the goodness in her heart is expressed on paper right before her eyes. Her creation today fills in many details not found in the words as all good illustrations do.

It had been another week of evening thunderstorms with rain into the night. In the mornings, none of the chickens were particularly eager to do much of anything.

They wanted me to open the coop and let them out so they could check the weather and see what was for breakfast. But after their initial curiosity was satisfied, they were unsure just what to do. They might nibble a little here and there, but that was about it. Aimlessness is never good.

I missed those days when they could not wait to get down the ladder from their coop in order to greet their new day. Just seeing them hurrying down to examine everything in detail always makes me feel that anything is possible.

And that is how chickens look at the world most days.

“Today may be the day I will find the biggest earthworm in the entire world! It may take all of my strength to wrestle it out of the ground, but I will do it!”

But it wasn’t like that now.

A damp and humid melancholy seemed to cover us all. We longed for a spring-time breeze to freshen the air, perhaps one filled with the fragrance of daffodils and lilac blossoms.

If only the sweet osmanthus would bloom, it would quickly turn everything around with the clean and invigorating smell of its many tiny blossoms. It’s planted there by the path to our backdoor because I want to smell it to know for sure that I am home, the only home my chickens and I will ever share together.

“Emily, will you make a picture of our house and garden? Would you do that for me?”

“I would be glad to.”

“It has to be a special picture, please. Can you make it so that all of the flowers all over the yard are blooming all at the same time? Even though they don’t really?”

“I will need to do a lot of remembering for that.”

“Yes, that’s the point, I think. I want to remember and imagine and see it all at once. Even though life doesn’t work that way.”

“I will do my best.”

“I know you will. You always do.”

I thought back to how Emily had asked me if we could plant enough flowers in our garden so Amelia could look down from the moon and know which house was ours. Maybe I wanted to see all of the flowers blooming all at the same time because I missed Amelia so much.

Somehow Emily knew this. “She misses us too, and especially you.”

“How do you know?”

“Because we are practically like sisters even though we are different kinds of chickens. And I know I would miss you. We need a flag.”

“What do you mean?”

“A flag. A bright red flag to hang from a pole on the chimney. You can make it from the same red yarn that you used to secure Amelia’s travel bag. We need a flag.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“She will be able to see the flag from the moon. She will recognize the color. She will remember it from her travel bag. Even if no flowers are blooming, she will be able to tell which house is ours. Then maybe she will realize she misses us too and come home. We need a flag.”

“Now I see what you mean.”

“This is her home whether she realizes it or not.”

“That isn’t just wishful thinking, is it? Are you sure you aren’t trying to push what your heart wants onto her heart?”

“I don’t know how I know, but I know.”

“If I make a flag from the red yarn, I will have to learn how to knit.”

“If I can learn to draw and paint, you can learn to knit. We need a flag.”

“You can be quite persistent, Emily. You don’t give up, do you?”

“I know. But I am also persistent about who I love too. Love never gives up.”

So Emily and I both started our projects. Hers was to remember the past and imagine. Mine was to look towards the future and imagine. Both would represent home and the persistence of love.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me love is persistent. Love never gives up. Love always has a “Plan B.”

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

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 2)

Emily's Summer Drawing Camp

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 continuation of the last part I shared here. With chickens, anything can happen.

“I want to draw Amelia,” she repeated more emphatically. Emily seemed startled by her own boldness. “You will teach me, won’t you?”

“There is nothing I would rather do,” I said.

Just like that, Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp began. Over the next few days, we looked at shapes and drew shapes.

There was the oval of an egg when you looked at it one way, and the circle of an egg when you looked at it another way. Emily thought this was fascinating. “One egg, but not one shape. I lay eggs all the time, but I never noticed that.”

“You’ve just discovered one of the biggest secrets of drawing. Look and study and look again. There are a lot of people who have never been to Summer Drawing Camp like you. Even so, they can tell whether something looks right or wrong, but they can’t tell you what it is or why. That is what you are learning to do.”

Worms from the garden were one of her most favorite subjects. These were difficult for her to draw because they kept moving, and she had to resist the urge to eat them.

“I love studying these shapes!”

“I thought you would,” I said as she was gobbling down her last worm model.

“Did you know chickens change shapes all the time? You make different shapes when you stretch out your necks or tuck them in close, when you fluff out your feathers, when you walk, and when you fly.”

“I will need to study those things if I’m going to draw Amelia, won’t I?”

So Gracie became our first drawing model. She would get up on a crate and make a ballet pose for Emily to draw. Gracie would hold still in the dance pose for as long as she could. It was great practice for both of them.

Then Pearl took over as our drawing model because Pearl hardly ever stands still. We watched Pearl do silly walks back and forth, and then Emily drew what she remembered.

Sometimes she remembered very well, and other times not so well. But the main thing was drawing the silly part correctly because that made it a drawing of Pearl. If she didn’t get the silly part right, Emily would add other details such as barred markings on the feathers to make the drawing look like Amelia.

One day before starting, Emily asked, “Is it true what you wrote in the book about friendship? Is it true drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way?”

“Yes, that’s true. At least, I believe it’s true. Not everything is true just because you believe it, but there are some things that are true whether you believe or not.”

“I want to make a drawing of Amelia and me flying together in the sky.”

We had been practicing with just the old box of white chalk from the workbench, but I wanted this drawing of Amelia and Emily to be special. I found a box of colored chalk, and Emily began creating.

She worked carefully without saying a word. Her concentration was intense.

Finally she said, “I’m ready.”

This was not what I had expected to hear, not yet. She had only drawn Amelia flying in the sky. She had not drawn herself. This was not a drawing of Amelia and Emily flying together in the sky.

Maybe she was too embarrassed to tell me she wasn’t sure how to draw herself.

“Do you need anything else? Like maybe a mirror?” I asked.

“I’m ready now,” she said impatiently. “Let’s prop it up against the workbench like we always do.”

As soon as her drawing was in place for us to look at, she stood beside it, closed her eyes, and then she opened them again. She closed her eyes for a bit longer, and then she opened them again. The third time, she closed her eyes and kept them closed.

Slowly her wings began to stretch out until they were fully extended.

She trembled with excitement.

Her eyes opened wide, but she wasn’t seeing the garage or me. It was as if all she saw was sky and Amelia beside her, the moon above her, and the fields and forests and rivers below them.

She swayed from side to side as if being carried along by winds high into the sky above.

She looked to her right, then began opening and closing her beak. No sound or words came out, but I knew she was calling to Amelia. She was saying how delightful everything looked when they were flying up high together.

I am unsure how long I sat there on the garage floor watching Emily, but I didn’t dare speak or move. She had not been so happy for the longest time.

Suddenly Emily did several strong, fast wing flaps as if she was landing. She blinked her eyes, tucked her wings close to her sides, and looked at me.

“I was flying with Amelia,” she said. “Just like you said would happen.”

This was not what I had meant about drawing and believing, but it didn’t matter.

“I know you were, Sweetie. I know. That’s why you said you were ready. That’s why you didn’t draw yourself with chalk like you drew Amelia, isn’t it?”

“It was all so beautiful, and seeing Amelia was the most beautiful part of all.”

She hopped into my lap and sat down.

“It’s good to be back home,” she said as she rested her head against me.

“It’s good to have you back home.”

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) showed me drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.

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