My Life With Gracie…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.

My Life With Gracie…Every Life

Every Life

This is a visual and thematic companion post to one earlier this week. Together these are about being shelter and giving shelter, two things particularly important for those in need during the harsher winter season.

For the longest time, wrens were my primary backyard birds. It was always enjoyable to sit in my sunroom and watch them looking for food and doing all of the things wrens do.

This was before my chickens moved in with their bigger presence when compared to the little wrens. But they all get along quite well.

The chickens don’t see the wrens as competition for resources, and the wrens don’t see the chickens as big selfish backyard bullies. The wrens, the original “owners” of my backyard, actually enjoy sharing the space because chickens love to scratch the ground for food.

When the chickens get excited with their scratching and digging, they send a lot of smaller bits of grain and seeds in all directions. A good amount will end up outside the run for the wrens to pick up and eat.

Early in the morning, I will sit with my chickens while they are eating their breakfast salad and watch the wrens collecting what the chicken activities from the day before left for them. The wrens seem not to be bothered by my presence now because of the chickens.

The wrens don’t do anything to benefit the chickens or me, at least not anything I can see. Still, we do appreciate the wren songs, and we do enjoy watching their quick little hopping and darting movements from place to place. The backyard would just not feel the same without their joyful presence.

There have been times when wrens have visited inside the chicken run. Perhaps it’s to evade a larger predator or to get a little closer to the chicken’s supply of grain and seeds. But my chickens aren’t territorial about their home. In a way, they are just backyard visitors too.

Chickens don’t mind sharing. (The only real exception is Gracie’s keen interest in getting more than her fair share of pomegranate!) In general though, they are just very good-natured towards other birds, even the ones who are smaller and generally insignificant, at least from their perspective.

To my surprise, there have been times, usually in the cooler fall and spring seasons, when I have opened the chicken coop in the morning, and a little wren has flown out. It’s just a random thing, and I’m unsure if it was intentional or accidental.

My chickens didn’t really care how the wrens came to share their home for the occasional night, they just enjoyed them for who they were.

Maybe they lost their way after their home was destroyed, and it got dark earlier than expected while looking for a new one. Maybe they just needed a safe protected shelter for the night before migrating to new territory. Maybe they simply needed warmth and companionship.

Who cares? What matters is they are there now and they are birds too.

My chickens don’t get anything back from the wrens as far as I can tell, but they aren’t bothered by it. Nor do my chickens strut around as if the wrens should feel indebted to them as the superior and “wealthier” backyard bird.

My chickens seem to understand how they, along with the wrens, are both together my beloved birds.

My Life With Gracie taught me every life matters regardless of how insignificant it may seem.

Maybe there are opportunities “right in your own backyard” to be shelter and give shelter to others. You will, I believe, receive much more back than what you give. I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Every Life

My Life With Gracie…A Season For Hands

A Season For Hands

This illustration is based on a previous “My Life With Gracie” drawing which has a blank neutral background. Each gives a different perspective.

Chickens love to be up high, and it is still a bit of a thrill for me to see one of them fly up to a perch above the others. Everyone has their favorite spot for perching. Bessie’s is my chair!

This love of heights all started when they are actually just chicks. They want to be on top of something, anything really, and look down. They feel safe. They feel accomplished. The entire world is just a hop and a flap away…or so they believe!

Children are like that too, at least at first, believing anything is possible for them.

But there are some cold hard realities in our world. For some, “anything is possible” becomes “something is possible” becomes “nothing is possible.”

Inside each homeless person you see on the street, inside each of us actually, is a child who at one time wanted so much to believe anything was possible for them.

Perhaps what scares us about someone less fortunate is we don’t want to face the possibility we could have been born as them. Maybe that is why we keep our distance, push them away, or don’t help when we could.

Unlike people, chickens don’t have the ability to help each other to do much of anything. Without hands, they can’t nudge or push or lift up each other. They only have wings to flap.

As baby chicks, Bessie was more advanced than Gracie. Bessie wanted to help, but all she was able to do was flap her wings and “peep” encouragement until her hatch-mate reached their new higher perch. She would hop and flap up, hop down. Hop and flap up, hop down. All the time peeping as if to say, “Do this! Just do this!”

If that didn’t work, she would try again later, and again and again if needed, until they were able to sit and admire the view from their higher perch together, side-by-side as friends. Bessie did the best she could without any hands to help Gracie who was much more timid and afraid. This was because of her hatching defects which made thing like this difficult.

Bessie never abandoned Gracie. I do believe she would have given up the wings she loves so much for a pair of hands if she could have used them to help Gracie get up to the highest possible perch alongside her.

Chicken world is not people world. But too often people world is not what people world could be and should be.

We can just stand on the sidelines “flapping and peeping” by offering only thoughts, prayers, and encouraging words…or we can instead use our hands, even if they get a little dirty and calloused, to help lift up someone who struggles to be where we are.

Regardless of our faith traditions, we can make a difference during this season of holidays.

My Life With Gracie made me appreciate being able to use my hands to lift up others.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

A Season For Hands