My Life With Gracie…Immersed In The Joys Of Life

Immersed In The Joys Of Life

“Gracie, what do chickens think about death?” I asked. It had been a few days since we had our “We Are Not Sparrows” conversation, and I had been thinking over what she had told me as well as what she had not told me.

“What do you mean?”

“What do chickens believe happens to them when they die?”

Gracie looked up at the sky above us. There was a beautiful patch of blue beginning to show where the rain clouds had parted.

Maybe she wanted to find the right words to express something she felt needed no words. Maybe she simply lived out whatever the words were rather than trying to make her life fit what the words meant.

“It’s not something we worry and fret over, if that is what you mean.”

“Is there anything else?” I asked, not wanting to give up so easily.

“Those words are hard to find. Chickens don’t think about death the way most people do,” she said and then added, “But I have questions for you too.”

I smiled. (What else could I do?)

“Why ponder what death is about when we are right in the middle of all this life? It is everywhere around us. We are swimming in an ocean of life. Isn’t it much more important to understand what life is about?”

I thought back to all of the times I had seen Gracie and Bessie when they were young and exploring the world, completely immersed in the joys of life. Although she is older and more mature now, she has still held onto something which I had lost or given up long ago as a child.

“Surely a good understanding of life will hold the key to understanding death,” she said.

“So what do chickens think about life?”

“Those words are easy to find. Life is a gift. You cannot give it to yourself. It is given to you. Where there is a gift, there is always a giver. Life is a gift with a purpose, and that purpose is to make more gifts.”

She said all of this with great confidence, as if all baby chicks come into the world knowing these simple truths. Perhaps they do. Perhaps children do too.

“Life is a gift we were given so we can be a gift to our part of the world. If we busy ourselves in life with being a gift rather than receiving a gift, we have no time to think about what will happen in death.”

“So if everyone is busy being a gift and giving a gift…” I began.

“…Eventually the world will be filled with gifts from the goodness of life. There will be no room for anything else. Not even death,” she concluded.

“Gracie, that is a beautiful way of looking at life.”

“It is the chicken way of looking at life.”

Then, probably so I wouldn’t feel so bad for not being a chicken (or a child anymore), she added, “But it can also be a never-too-late way of looking at life.”

So when I receive this season’s gifts of crayon-scribbled cards and misshapen cookies made by little hands, I will enjoy them differently. They will also be gifts from Life seeking to fill the world with goodness until there is no room for anything else…except maybe just one more still-warm, ooey, gooey, chocolate chip cookie!

My Life With Gracie gave me hope that one day the world will be completely filled with the infinite goodness of Light and Life and Love.

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

If the background looks familiar, you’re right. It is adapted from Vincent Van Gogh’s painting titled “Starry Night” which he painted in 1889. This and many of his other works always make me feel as if I am swimming in the joys of life because they are filled with the goodness of Light and Life and Love.

For me, Van Gogh’s art is an example of what this post is about. I wonder, did he perhaps have a chicken or two?!?

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Today’s photograph is of Emily after she and the others had finished their Thanksgiving Day feast of baked sweet potatoes and pomegranate poms. In the background, Gracie is taking care of an itch.

We started with dessert, the pomegranate, because since it was a holiday, “dessert first” was fine. Emily is more ladylike with this treat, and so I usually hand feed this to them. She doesn’t like to get the juice from the poms on her face. The others just shake it off, and so they are more likely to grab too hard and splatter juice in all directions. Emily, above all, is a proper lady.

I had not expected Emily to let me take her photos and especially this closely. She is normally shy, but I think their Thanksgiving Day menu put her in a good mood, or at least good enough to not be so shy with the camera.

Emily had a very rough late fall molt and lost all of her neck and head feathers except for a few that hung down in back like a pony tail. (Can you really call it a “pony tail” if it is on a chicken?) But her feathers have come back enough to keep her neck warm, though they still have a bit more to go before they are at their fullest and most iridescent.

I appreciate that she allowed me to use her photo for today’s post even though she is still not at her “feathery best.” You can see the tiny cream-colored feathers covering her ears. It looks as if she may be waiting to hear me say, “I almost forgot. I have one more Thanksgiving Day treat for you!” Chickens are always hopeful.

In the photo below you can see how shy Emily really is while Amelia’s boldness is undeniable. This photo was taken several weeks before Emily’s late fall molt began.

We are truly thankful for all we have and for you, our readers. We hope that all of your days, holidays or not, are filled with many wonderful things, including the small things in life like sweet potatoes and pomegranates or anything else that you particularly enjoy.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated. Some strange mix-up happened with this post earlier today. Hopefully it is okay now. Thanks!

My Life With Gracie…The Gift Of Listening

The Gift Of Listening

There are things my chickens will tell to anyone who will listen. Those are things like how difficult it is to lay an egg, how there is a hungry-looking cat taking too long to walk through our yard, or how there is a mysterious pair of eyes watching them from the darkness of the brambles.

These bits of news will get picked up and shared throughout our little block by the songbirds.

But my chickens do not tell everything they know, and this is one of their greatest gifts.

This is not a gift uniquely given by chickens. It is also a gift given by any of the animals we share our lives with such as dogs or cats. Sometimes it is a gift given by other people, though perhaps not often enough.

This gift went unnoticed and unappreciated until after Gracie and I had a long and private discussion.

“It’s not anything I’ve told anyone but you,” I said. “People don’t like hearing things like what I just told you. They want to talk you out of saying things like that, even when they are true.”

“We have always told each other the truth, haven’t we?” she asked softly.

“Yes, Gracie. We have.”

She leaned against my leg and thought over what I had just shared with her. Then she gently tugged on my jeans to let me know she wanted me to sit.

When I did, she settled in to the hollow made by my crossed legs. It was a place designed just for a chicken like Gracie, or so it seemed. It would also be a perfect place for a dog or a cat, if I had either of those.

“Sometimes I feel as if my life has been one big waste,” I had told her. “I’ve made too many mistakes I can’t correct. Like the ones I just told you about. I have nothing. Most of the time I feel like nothing. Life demands I keep on smiling even though so often I feel like crying.”

She laid her head and neck across my leg. It was so much like the way she had laid across Bessie’s back when they were just young chicks. This was all she knew to do, but it was enough.

The first leaves of Autumn swirled around us, beginning to build the season’s ground of death and decay. Soon there would be a moist, rich foundation for a new start and renewed attempts at growth.

Connected again to the world around me, I felt reconciliation had somehow occurred. To share your shortcomings is a scary thing. Yet to find love and acceptance in the eyes of another life, even when that life is covered with feathers or fur, is a very healing thing.

I write this because it seems at times people have lost their connection to the earth beneath their feet and the animals with which we share it. From there, it is a quick step to losing our connection with other people.

Be sure you have eyes, real eyes, in your life that look back into your own. Make sure those eyes let you see yourself as part of something far greater and more glorious than you can imagine. You are.

Those eyes may be another person’s. If so, you are fortunate.

Maybe those eyes are a dog’s or a cat’s. If so, you are more fortunate.

And perhaps those eyes are a chicken’s. If so, you are most fortunate indeed, particularly if they belong to a chicken like my Gracie.

My Life With Gracie showed me the precious gift of listening with unconditional love.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! By the way, if you detected a strong bias towards dogs and cats and an even stronger bias towards chickens, you are correct, but no slight is intended!