Into The Speckless Sky

Amelia’s View As She Soared Over The Cornwall Coast

With “A Most Wondrous Place” finally published, this is another item I’ve been eager to draw and write.

As you may know, chickens can fly, just not particularly well. When Amelia was in her first year, she could fly 6 to 8 feet above the ground and for a distance of about 30 feet. But I have always wanted to give her “a grand adventure flight.” I imagine this as a sequence of full page illustrations from around the world with fast-paced captions.

My hope is that if you can believe, even if only for a moment, that Amelia can fly like this, then you will believe you can accomplish the remarkable as well.

Our morning sky had been speckless, just as speckless as the day Amelia set off on her grand adventure. In truth, she did not feel it was a grand adventure at all. It was simply something she had to do. She had no choice.

While the others played and scratched and pecked, Amelia came and sat at my feet. She had always been more like a person than a chicken.

“Did you see the speckless sky this morning, Amelia?”

“I study the sky each morning. It tells me what to expect for the day.”

“I remember another spring morning with a speckless sky like we had today. It was the morning you flew away to see if you could be lost and not afraid.”

We both looked up and examined the few wispy clouds that had moved in since morning, just as Amelia knew they would.

“Tell me again about the speckless sky, Amelia. I want to feel like I am flying with you. I want to see it the way you did.”

I closed my eyes, and she began the same way she always did.

“The sky was as speckless as an empty sheet of paper. An empty, crystalline, pure blue sheet of paper. But it was still an empty sheet, waiting to be drawn or written upon.

“Only that sheet was endless, and it belonged to me. I could do whatever I wanted with it or nothing at all. And then the lines of the longitudes and latitudes began calling me to see what I could see.”

“But you could not fly the way you had hoped to fly that day, could you?”

“No, not that day. Not until you taught Emily to draw. She did not understand things like how she could see the moon from our garden but someone on the moon could not see the flowers blooming here.

“But she believed what you had told her. She believed drawing lets you do things you could never do any other way. For us, believing is better than understanding, especially when you want to fly.”

“Tell me about flying with your Map Of The World,” I said.

Even though I did not open my eyes to check and see, I knew she had closed her eyes as well. And so, she began to tell me as she had done many times before.

“I soared along the dotted lines and plunged down on the double lines.

“I banked into the solid lines and climbed upward to the dashy lines,

“Then way up high beyond the earth to where there simply were no lines at all.”

She said all this with a rhythm that moved and pressed onward just as she must have.

“And then what, Amelia?”

“I rushed past the global winds and cried out for all the world to hear, ‘This is happiness!’

“Oyster boats and fishing piers, peanut fields and cotton fields, then fields and fields and fields with corn as far as any eyes could see,

“Along the rugged, ragged coast, up to the Arctic tundra bare, to where the snowy owls hunt, traveling on and on and on.

“I felt that love was carrying me to trace the rivers to the sea, to plunge into the fiords deep, to make a mark for all to see there on that sheet of speckless blue.

“Then onward to the islands broad, above their mountains topped with snow, and down below the only speck, an eagle wishing he was me.”

“And what else, Amelia?”

“I may have wing-flapped once or twice, but that was only just to steer.

“And finally at last I found the places that no one else had been.”

“And your Map Of The World?”

“I flew beyond my treasured map, the special map that I had made, beyond its borders, off the page, no longer sure of where I was.

“Beyond the line and markings there, I soared without a single care, and felt at last that I was lost, as simply lost as lost could be.”

“But you weren’t afraid, were you?”

”Fear had no place within my heart,” she said, and I felt our journey gliding back to earth.

”And tell me why, Amelia.”

“It does not matter where or how far away I go, as long as I am loved, I am never truly lost,” she said. “As long as I am loved, I will always know where I am. I will be in your heart and in Emily’s heart, just as we, all of us, are in the heart of Forever.”

We both sat silently until, at last, her memories and my imaginings landed together.

“Thank you, Amelia.”

Almost two years ago, I wrote and illustrated a set of four posts titled “Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp” in which we discover Emily has a remarkable gift. Because she has so much love in her heart for Amelia and because she truly believes “Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way,” remarkable things happen when Emily draws. More next time!

Lost And Not Afraid

Lost And Not Afraid

“I think I need to travel far away,” she said to me as she sat in my arms, cradled snugly against my chest. “I think I need to go so far away that I’m lost.”

“Why do you want to do that, Amelia?”

“Then I will know if I can be lost and not afraid.”

I didn’t say anything. I just listened.

“Then I need to know if I can find my way back home again to you and the others.”

“Why do you need to know that, Amelia?”

She looked far off into the morning sunrise. “Because if I can make it back, then it means I really do belong here after all, and I will never need to go away ever again.”

“I see.”

“And if I can’t make it back, then that means something else. I don’t know what it will mean, but if it happens like that, then I will know.”

She looked at me to make sure I wasn’t angry or disappointed with her.

“What if I find out I belong somewhere else…even though my heart would be broken to never see you and the others ever again? It could be like that. You know?”

Then she said what troubled her the most. “What if I find I want to come back but can’t?”

“Amelia, you have been thinking about these things for a long time, haven’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I have.” There was a silence all around us. Then she asked, “What do you think?”

“You should never make a decision out of fear…not a decision to be part of our family here, or a decision to remain, or a decision to go away. Love and fear don’t ever belong together.”

Amelia thought over these words carefully.

“I think you have to do what your heart is telling you to do. Either way, my heart will be broken. But you know that already, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you don’t travel far away enough to answer all those questions, you will never be at peace. I don’t think you would be happy not knowing. Your unhappiness would break my heart even though I still had you here with me.”

“And if I traveled far away?”

“My heart would be broken every minute you are away, but I would know you are doing what you have to do, and that would make me happy for you, and so the pain would not be as bad.”

“Would you wait for me to come back?”

“Oh, yes. Without a doubt. I would wait for you and watch for you every day.”

“You realize I might not come back? And that you would be waiting for nothing?”

“No. I wouldn’t be waiting for nothing. You are so much more than nothing. I love you, Amelia. You know I would fly with you if I could, don’t you?”

“Yes. I know that now.”

“Do you need for me to help you pack? Is there anything you want to take with you?”

“No. I don’t really own anything other than myself.”

“Yes, I know. But I thought you might want to carry a little container of sunflower kernels with you. They are small, but they have a lot of energy in them that you might need.”

“Can I decide later? Maybe tomorrow?”

“Yes, of course you can. Take as long as you need.”

I held her closer.

“Would it be alright if I give you a good-bye kiss on the head now? I don’t want to forget later. And you might find that the time to leave is when I’m not here.”

“Yes, I guess that would be okay,” she said.

We both closed our eyes, not wanting the moment to end. “You are so much more than nothing,” I whispered in her ear.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) taught me never to make a decision out of fear…only out of love.

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