There are times when I wish my life was very different. Some sorrow comes with such awareness to be sure, but there is a much greater sorrow in thinking my chickens might wish their lives were very different too.
Yet the life they have is the only life most of them have ever known. Only Amelia and Emily ever had hours upon hours of free backyard time out in the country to explore and fly together with their original flock mates. They were magnificent.
Zoning ordinances forced them to find new homes because even though they were in a rural area, they didn’t live on at least five and a half acres of land. Now, here on less than a quarter acre city lot, they are legal and safe, and those things must count for something.
Even though they can’t fly freely like before and even though they don’t understand how their fate might have been otherwise, they do have a life and a home. But is that enough?
When Amelia and Emily came to live with us, my greatest concern was they might come to hate life here in the city compared to their relative life of freedom in the country. As beautiful as they are, it would be so selfish if my happiness was obtained by their sorrow.
I worried about Amelia the most because more than anything she loves to fly. Then one evening, I realized there just might be something she loves more than flying.
The days were growing shorter then because it was the fall season. I had less and less time after work to sit with my chickens before they went up into their coop for the night.
Gracie would always be first because she is the leader and may also have the weakest eyesight. Amelia would always be last. Perhaps that is because her eyesight is the strongest, but I think it also may be because she loves adventure and doesn’t want to miss anything.
Eventually there would be no daylight left when I got home, and they would all be up in their coop, waiting patiently to be “tucked in” for the night and secured against nighttime predators.
We would still say all of our sweet “good night” wishes the way we always did and talk together just a bit before saying our evening prayers, but it always felt different with only the twilight darkness.
Then that one evening, the unexpected happened. There was a little daylight still left when I got home. I turned off the truck engine, opened the door, and heard the sweetest and most innocently hopeful little sound ever. It was the sound of two chicken feet softly landing on the ground.
My heart knew who it was before my eyes saw. Of course, it was Amelia. She had jumped down out of the coop.
By the time I got to the backyard, I saw her pacing quickly back and forth at the front of their run. At first, I thought there was some type of problem which had alarmed her. Had there been a predator stalking them? Would I need to settle a dispute because someone was in her favorite nighttime roosting spot?
When I got in the run, Amelia gave me that look which only Amelia can give me. Then she pecked and pulled at the legs of my pants the way she always does when she wants to be picked up and held.
So I picked her up and held her close in my arms. It was the sweetest of sweet “good night” moments I have ever had. It seemed to last forever.
As much as she loves her freedom to fly, Amelia loves being held just a little bit more. She doesn’t have to say it. She just lives it.
Now I know there is probably more I can write here about how sometimes life turns out differently for us than what we expect and about how sometimes we give up some of our valued freedom to obtain something much more valuable. But right now, I just want to rest in the moment and believe it really is enough…for both of us.
My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) showed me the beauty of a sweet “good night.”
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