Unexplainable Mysteries

Unexplainable Mysteries

Maybe your neighborhood is one that is visited by an ice cream truck during the summer, or like in our neighborhood as soon as there are slightly warmer days in spring. My chickens are fascinated by the musical sounds made by the ice cream truck.

Ours makes its way slowly through the neighborhood, street by street. Over and over again, it plays the same tune, an odd mechanical chiming version of “The Entertainer.” As it gets closer to our street and to our house, the chickens stretch their necks out farther and farther. Then when it fades away, they all return to their regular chicken routine.

They are intently trying to figure it all out. Some notes seem to make sense to them, but the rest remain a mystery. Perhaps they imagine a huge magnificent songbird with multicolored feathers passing through the neighborhood. They are definitely curious about whatever might be making the oddly-patterned sounds they hear.

People so often want to understand everything. And when we think we understand something, we are ready to move on to the next new thing. Done! Check! Got it! Move on!

But I think there is ample space in life for mysteries, even unsolvable mysteries. Perhaps it is best when there are still some things which we don’t completely understand. Longings. Joy. Love. God.

We may have a tendency to count as insignificant those things we feel we completely understand. The unknown can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

Perhaps it is no coincidence how the things we value most, including life itself, are surrounded in mystery. The unknown draws us in, and then we discover what we thought was just an interesting short verse of poetry is actually one sheet in a vast library. We are compelled to continue reading, all the while knowing we will never finish the unending task we have set for ourselves.

Although I could ask my chickens to tell me what they think about the noise of the ice cream truck, I like leaving those answers as my own mysteries for pondering and imagining possibilities.

And really, if my chickens wanted to know more about the noise of the ice cream truck, they would ask me. But they don’t, even though they know I would explain it all to them. Perhaps they enjoy having mysteries in life which they don’t completely understand just as I do.

My Life With Gracie taught me there will always be things we will never figure out, and that is as it should be.

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

Curious Tail Feathers

Curious Tail Feathers

If you watch and study chickens long enough, you begin to know exactly what they are thinking and feeling by their tail feathers. They are like little flags sticking up and signaling the world all of their thoughts and emotions.

Since people don’t have tail feathers, I think this is called “body language” rather than “tail feather language.” Chickens don’t have a name for it.

This wasn’t anything I really thought about until I started working on some of the scenery and props for “The Rose Garden Princess,” our own backyard ballet production. With scrap lumber and paint buckets and tools spread out everywhere, tail feathers were practically all of my chickens I could see sometimes!

There were chicken tail feathers up, down, sideways. There were chicken tail feathers spread out, gathered together, fanned apart. Everything means something different about what is happening and how they are feeling.

It’s no surprise how protective chickens are of their feathers, particularly their tail feathers. They are one big way chickens have to communicate with each other…and with anyone who is willing to learn their “tail feather language.”

But there was one tail feather movement Amelia was making I just could not figure out. It was sort of a straight up in the air semi-circular movement first one way and then the other. So I asked her what it meant.

She looked at me as if I had asked the most ridiculous question in the world. “Do you mind? I have an itch back there!”

And so it goes. Never a dull moment! Be curious. Be creative. Be adventurous.

My Life With Gracie gave me great pleasure while I watched the curious tail feathers of my chickens discovering our next creative adventure.

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…About Diving In!

About Diving In!

This illustration is based on my third “My Life With Gracie” drawing. It is still one of my favorites because it reminds me of the joy of having a baby chick standing on top of my foot for the first time, but here I’ve added the joy of watching them explore the world for the first time.

From his first day out of his shell, Lefty believed that the world was made just for him. He loved to explore, and he didn’t want to miss a thing. He always tried to be everywhere at once, and almost succeeded too!

As a chick, he was at his top exploring speed non-stop throughout the day! Eventually he would wear himself out and just do a “splat”! He would flop down wherever he was with his wings and legs spread out and just instantly fall asleep.

Once his nap was over, he was up and moving full-speed again. He didn’t want to miss anything!

He was first to try whatever was new or different. Where others might hop up on top of my shoe to warily check out something, Lefty would hop up and use my shoe as a jumping off spot to dive right into it!

I miss that little guy, but I’m glad he is on a nice farm where he can crow and cock-a-doodle-do as much as he wants. I’m sure he has explored every possible inch of his new home too!

Lefty would always run as fast as he could back and forth along the fencing of the run with one foot on the fencing support and one foot on the ground.

To me, it would make more sense to have both feet running on the ground to move more smoothly and quickly rather than the clunky, uneven hobbling up-and-down, up-and-down movement. Then again, I’m not thinking like a chicken.

Soon after he moved out, Bessie took over his leadership role. It was an amazing transformation. She remembered how he ran along the run, keeping watch, exploring constantly, and so Bessie started doing the same things, even imitating his clunky up-and-down way of running next to the fence. I had to tell Bessie, just like I had told Lefty, “Slow down before you hurt yourself!” Neither of them ever listened to me.

But when you are excited and curious and hyper-alert, does it really make much of a difference? Where I might be concerned about looking silly or awkward or failing, chickens truly don’t seem to care. They don’t want to miss a thing!

So what is holding any of us back? And why even waste time bothering to answer that question? (Or that question!) Right now we could be exploring what we might never have another opportunity to experience. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe we wear ourselves out and have to take a “splat” nap!

Dive in! Find out what’s at the bottom of that pile of leaves! Hey! Maybe I really am thinking like a chicken after all! The whole fullness of the world is waiting to be explored!

My Life With Gracie encouraged me to dive right in more often!

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Right now I am revisiting some of my earlier cartoon illustrations and giving them a different twist. This one is inspired by all of you who don’t ever want to miss out on anything! (You know who you are!)

About Diving In!