My Life With Gracie…Remembering Blanche

There is never an easy way to write about death. I had shared earlier this year how Blanch’s health was not good. Since then she has had her ups and downs.

Warm days were the best for her. She would sit in the sun and would feel better. Lately though, that didn’t seem to help as much. She spent more and more of her time to herself and sleeping.

She stayed up in the coop Easter Sunday morning and didn’t come down for breakfast. She just slept, breathing slowly.

When I returned home from Easter worship service, I found she had passed away in her sleep. I had felt it’s what would happen while I was away, when it was just Blanche and Pearl together.

When I picked her up, I found she had lost even more weight these last few days, but her feathers were still pure white, just as white as the Easter lilies had been in church, maybe just a bit more in the afternoon sunlight.

I wrapped her in a piece of cotton quilt batting. It was soft and protective. There really was no reason to hurry. We all took our time saying our “good-byes” to Blanche.

She is buried next to the spot where I like to sit with my chickens in the evening, under the camellias next to the coop where we sit and enjoy each other’s company.

When it is time, we will plant white Easter lilies beside her in the garden next to the lunaria (also called honesty) growing there now. The lilies just seem right for her, though I can’t imagine them being as white and as pure as her feathers were when she would stretch them out in the sun.

Blanche was a good friend. She was so patient and kind towards Pearl, no matter how annoying she got. And she did get annoying! On Blanche’s not-so-good days, Pearl would tell her, “Get up! Get up! It’s time to play!” Blanche would always do her best.

From the time she hatched, Pearl had adored Blanche and was almost always at her side as a sister and a friend.

Out of the kindness in her heart, Blanche struggled to stay with us for as long as she could. She did that for Pearl’s benefit. She knew how lost Pearl would be without her.

We will always remember and love Blanche. She taught us so much.

My Life With Blanche showed me every day the meaning of “love is patient and kind.”

My Life With Gracie…The Trouble With Words

The Trouble With Words

Gracie was quite emphatic that we had to do something immediately. We had to help The Big Boy at the end of the street because he needed eyeglasses much more than the new bicycle he had gotten for Christmas.

As with most concerns which my chickens have kept to themselves, it often takes a good deal of questioning to get to the bottom of the real story.

She insisted we had to take up a collection or have a yard sale or a bake sale or something to raise money for The Big Boy’s eyeglasses. It was causing The Little Boy at the end of the street a great deal of stress and tears.

Chickens may not totally understand and they may often misinterpret, but you do have to appreciate their caring hearts.

“Gracie, tell me why you think The Big Boy at the end of the street needs glasses.”

“He keeps telling The Little Boy ‘You’re a chicken,’ when he is clearly not a chicken. He is a boy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, The Big Boy will ride his new Christmas bicycle back and forth in the street and in circles around The Little Boy and say ‘Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!’”

“I see. Does The Little Boy ever ride his own new Christmas bicycle back and forth in the street.”

“No.”

“Not even a little?”

“No. We’ve seen him rolling it when The Big Boy is not around.”

“I see.”

This was not going to be an easy explanation.

“Gracie, it’s like this. He was calling his little brother ‘Chicken!’ because he was afraid to ride the new bike he got for Christmas.”

Gracie looked very puzzled.

“Gracie, when people say ‘You’re a chicken,’ it is like saying, ‘You’re afraid.’”

“People think that about chickens? That we are afraid?”

“Well, not all people, but some people.”

Gracie sat down in a huff. “That is very insulting to chickens!”

“I know.”

“And they need to stop doing that!”

“I know, Sweetie.”

“Why do they do that?”

“Well, I think The Big Boy wanted The Little Boy to get up the courage to ride his new bicycle and not worry about falling off or crashing.”

“So he was trying to help him?” she said, still perplexed.

“Yes, I guess you could say it that way.”

“And he was helping him by pretending he couldn’t see well enough to tell he was a little boy and not a chicken,” she said, still doubting this whole confusing situation.

“Yes. Sort of like that.”

“I will never understand people.”

“I agree with you. Neither will I.”

We both chuckled and shook our heads.

“Gracie, I love you.”

“What’s not to love? I’m a chicken!”

“Yes, that’s it, Gracie! He was calling his little brother a chicken because he loved him. He didn’t want the even bigger boys to pick on him even more.”

“So it was a good thing?”

“Well, is being a chicken a good thing?”

“Absolutely!”

“You are so right, Gracie. And I would never call you a scaredy cat.”

The same puzzled look came over her face again, but she quickly decided to leave her “scaredy cat” questions for another day.

My Life With Gracie taught me the importance of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

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The Trouble With Words

My Life With Gracie…The Evil King Of Darkest Night

The Evil King Of Darkest Night

This is the next in a series about Gracie’s dream of one day being a ballerina. It follows this portion of the story which introduces the field mice and this portion of the story which introduced The Evil King and Air Shadows without showing how they look.

A gray rainy and overcast day seemed perfect to continue working out the story of our ballet about The Rose Garden Princess. I began by reassuring timid little Emily if there happened to be a real-life Evil King, we would be able to smell him before he got anywhere near us. Nothing smells worse than a wet rat or opossum or raccoon or any other type of predator you can imagine!

(Everyone raised their beaks into the air as high as they could and sniffed.)

All seemed safe and so we entered Gracie’s dream again.

“I smell chickens!” bellowed the Evil King Of Darkest Night. “Smelly filthy nasty dirty chickens!”

He sniffed and wiggled his nose in all directions to pick up the smell of The Garden Princesses.

(Gracie and all of the others hunkered down with barely their beaks peaking out from their feathery pile.)

“Do we really smell that bad?” asked Emily who is always concerned about being as perfect a lady as possible.

“No, absolutely not. You smell wonderfully sweet,” I reassured her. “But sometimes evil characters say things to make you doubt yourself so they can take advantage of you.”

(Everyone nodded in agreement.)

“I will find you miserable chickens!” he screeched. “And when I do I will carry you away with me. You will lay eggs for me until you can’t lay any more eggs, and then I’m going to eat you! I will eat every last one of you! The last sound the last of you will ever hear will be the crunching of the bones of the others who have been gobbled up first!”

(Everyone muttered, “That awful beast! Chicken thief! Murderer!” But no one said it very loudly. After all, there really might be an Evil King Of Darkest Night.)

As he slowly moved through the Great Garden, all of the flowers that the Garden Princesses loved began to wither and turn to ashes. The Air Shadows swirled around The Evil King Of Darkness faster and faster as each carefully tended collection of beauty was destroyed.

(All of my chickens were silent. They did not know what to say.)

Finally Amelia spoke up. “You’re going to tell us he made it to the center of The Great Garden, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“And that he captured The Garden Princesses,” added Emily.

“Yes.”

“Will The Rose Garden Princess and the other Princesses dance in this part of the ballet?” asked Gracie. I could tell she was working out the choreography and costuming in her creative mind.

“I’m not sure. What do you think?”

“I think for this part the audience needs to stop and really think about what the world would be like if there was no beauty and no joy,” she said.

The others began to imagine it too, and I could tell they were more afraid of that kind of existence than they were of The Evil King Of Darkest Night.

Gracie continued, “Even if we had The Garden Princesses dancing as prisoners in this part, there would still be something pretty on the stage. We need the audience to think and think again of a world where there is no hope and no love.”

I considered what she was saying and then realized how right she was. “I understand exactly what you mean, Gracie. Beauty will always be beautiful even if held prisoner, even if sick and dying, even if crippled and unable to dance.

”There is something beautiful in the light of life itself.

“We really could have a world with no beauty or joy, with no hope or love. But if we don’t stop to think about how a world like that can creep up on us bit by bit, then it will be too late.”

“Air Shadows!” they all exclaimed at once.

“Yes!” I said in surprise. “It’s the things we can’t see which can take away beauty, joy, hope, and love that are truly scary. When those are gone and only shadows and memories remain, that is even scarier.”

I looked at each of them one by one and then said, “I can’t imagine my little backyard garden without the six of you and the beauty you bring into my life. Sleep well, my little princesses.”

And so I went back inside and drew a picture of a world without chickens to illustrate this part of their ballet about The Rose Garden Princess. It was not easy to draw. I wanted to include at least a hint of tail-feathers rushing away and off of the stage. But, no.

It made me sad to imagine a world with no beauty anywhere, not even the memory of beauty and love. There is something beautiful even in just their remembrances which are held like a treasure and locked away in our minds.

Without even those memories, what kind of existence would that be? It would be like falling into an endless black hole of fear and hopelessness. That is the scariest of all.

My Life With Gracie made me aware of how the world is not always a loving place.

The Evil King Of Darkest Night