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The Gracie Press Newsletter - A Simple Everyday Miracle

The Gracie Press Newsletter - A Simple Everyday Miracle
From time to time, I have wondered how these stories about Gracie and the others should be classified.
If you have read the “disclaimer” section from the copyright page of any of our books, you know what I mean. I think these books should be non-fiction even though I was not a direct witness to all that happened. While I trust my chickens to fill in the missing details honestly, there are times when my imagination may get the best of me. So these are classified as fiction rather than non-fiction.
But what about genre?
“Fantasy” does not seem to fit because those stories are often in faraway places such as an imaginary world. My stories take place right in my own backyard because that’s where my chickens are and because I want readers to feel, even if only for a moment, that anything is possible in their own backyards too.
Perhaps “Magical Realism” comes closest because talking with chickens is treated as just an ordinary occurrence or A Simple Everyday Miracle. This week’s story excerpt is from a chapter with that title and tells how Gracie and I began to have real conversations.
If you have read A Most Wondrous Place, portions of this week’s excerpt may sound familiar. This current book project greatly expands on much of what is in that book. We want to make the most accurate record of all that has happened whether readers consider it “fiction” or “non-fiction,” “fantasy” or “magical realism.”
This week’s excerpt also shares the differences, as my chickens and I see them, between “magic” and “magical.” See if you agree!

A Simple Everyday Miracle
“When the sky grows dark because there is a summer storm coming…”
“When the sky grows dark because there is a summer storm coming…”
Without realizing it, I had been learning how to listen with my heart for weeks. Maybe I had been learning since that day at The Feed And Seed Store when Gracie looked directly into my eyes as if her heart was looking into my heart.
That is why it just happened one day without either of us noticing it at first. It was what might be called A Simple Everyday Miracle.
“I love being here with you,” we both said at exactly the same time. 
Our eyes got bigger as we looked at each other.
“One, two, three. You copied me!” we said together.
Slowly the happiest of smiles came over our faces as we realized something altogether wonderful had happened. Gracie was speaking to me in People language, and I was speaking to her in Chicken language. 
There is absolutely no magic in talking with chickens. None of the books I’ve read about magic ever had anything about talking with chickens. I suppose you could pull a chicken out of a hat instead of a rabbit, but I think you would want to make sure there wasn’t an egg inside the hat too.
What happened that day was not magic, but it felt magical. The magical can happen at any minute. My chickens look at the world that way, and they have no reason to look at it any other way because hatching from an egg is just about the most magical thing that can happen. 
Magic and the magical may sound the same, but they are not. For magic to happen, someone must do something, say something, or take some action. With the magical, it happens on its own without anyone doing anything.
Magic comes from without. It is like a wisp of smoke, something and then nothing.
The magical comes from within. It is like a seed, something and then something more. 
The magical can’t be forced or predicted or explained. It just happens. Light is magical. Life is magical. Love is magical.
The magical is also the miraculous. At times, I think they are exactly the same thing or at least of the same essence. But neither is magic, and that is probably a very good thing. My chickens don’t think very much of magic, but they expect the magical and the miraculous every day.
The universe is dripping with an abundance of both magically miraculous elements and miraculously magical elements. There are so many we hardly ever realize we are surrounded by them. What slips by disguised as an everyday occurrence is actually quite magical when we stop to examine it.
This is brilliant design. 
Eventually, Gracie and I would have long heart-to-heart conversations, but whether totally in English or Chicken, I really can’t say. Languages blend in the heart. That is where real and true listening begins even when everyone is perfectly quiet.
I wanted to know as much as possible about what it was like to be a baby chick. There had been so many things I had wondered about during those early days. If I ever raised any more in the future, I wanted to make sure I did everything in the best possible way.
One of the first things Gracie told me about was her time at The Feed And Seed Store. It had been a scary place for her. 
“I stayed close to Bessie in the big box with the heating lamp. There would be a shadow blocking the light. Then suddenly The Big Hand would scoop up some of us. I didn’t know what happened to those who were taken away. I hoped it would be for the better when it happened to me. More than that, I hoped it would be with Bessie.”
Even after so many months, she was still uneasy about those first few days of her life.
“So do you think it was all by chance that the two of you ended up here?” I asked. “You weren’t in the first group that I brought home. It was only because those others were so cute that I went back and got you and Bessie. Even then, it was the sales clerk who picked you out and not me.”
“Maybe some of it was chance,” she said. “But even when you noticed my face was not perfect like Bessie’s, you didn’t tell the sales clerk to put me back. Instead, you whispered to me that I was more than good enough.
“I trust a good heart more than chance. Your eyes told me we mattered, and you would be taking us to A Most Wondrous Place. And you did, just as I knew you would. This is A Most Wondrous Place.”
“Well, this little garden here in the city is nice, but I’m not certain it’s all that wonderful. It does need some work.”
“It may not be wonderful to you, but it is most wondrous to me. That is what I called it because that is what it is. Not every wonderful place is wondrous. But every A Most Wondrous Place is wonderful.” 
This seemed like a riddle and a very fun riddle too. She smiled at how her words gave my face a curiously delighted expression.
“What does A Most Wondrous Place mean? To a chicken.”
“We know it exists from the moment we hatch. It is what our hearts are set on finding as soon as we break free from our eggshells. 
“It is not something that can be described. It is not something you can easily point to and say, ‘Oh, look at that! It is A Most Wondrous Place!’ But you will know when you are there. 
“You will feel it with your heart. Sometimes you will know even before you are there. That is how it was for me the day you brought us home with you. This is A Most Wondrous Place.”
My first awareness of chicken wisdom began at that moment. Over time, I would learn more about how wise chickens truly are and what A Most Wondrous Place means to them, but in that moment, I simply marveled at the miraculous.
Gracie and The Big Scary Thing
Gracie and The Big Scary Thing
There was another day when she told me about how much she enjoyed dancing with Bessie in the sunroom and how she really had wanted me to join in dancing with them. She told me how I had been The Big Scary Thing, and we laughed together about how silly that fear had been.
On still another day, she told me about how some of the others had called her “princess” when they first saw her dancing. She told me all about the lessons The Robin had given her and how she had faced The Bigger Scary Thing one afternoon when I was gone. We laughed about that fear too.
“There surely can’t be anything scary left,” she said.
“I certainly hope you’re right, Sweetie,” I said. “But do you think The Biggest Scary Thing might possibly exist?”
Instead of answering my question, she told me about the days when they were still discovering the many wonders in our backyard garden home. It felt as if I was discovering the world again for the first time myself, but I also realized she felt The Biggest Scary Thing existed because she did not want to talk about it.
“There was more than we could ever possibly see and do all in one day, but we tried,” she said. “Do you remember how we used to go splat after playing outside for hours at a time? Bessie and I would always go splat together.”
“The two of you were always easy to spot even when all fourteen of you went splat at the same time. You would be resting your head on Bessie, or she would be resting her head on you. None of the others would go splat like that. Only the two of you.”
“Yes, that was truly A Most Wondrous Place.”
There were those mysterious words again. Gracie had given me another clue to help me discover for myself what A Most Wondrous Place means to chickens. But I knew better than to ask any questions. She would tell me what she wanted to tell me when she decided it was time. And I was enjoying this mystery one clue at a time.
“When the sky grows dark because there is a summer storm coming,” I said, “You two hunker down together under the coop. Even now, I still see you gently resting your head on Bessie’s back just like how the two of you used to do.”
“And it is still only the two of us who do that,” she said, looking over at Bessie who was enjoying a nice dust bath.
Then she added, “The Promise Of A Most Wondrous Place is that every heart can find a way into it because it is always trying to find a way into every heart.”
“And if there ever is such a thing as The Biggest Scary Thing,” I said, “I know you will be more than good enough to face it, just like Bessie.”
As I watched Gracie thinking over what I had said to help her and she watched me thinking over what she had said to help me, I realized something. We are friends, the two of us. That is what friends do. They help each other.
Maybe we are not friends like she has always been with Bessie, but we are friends nevertheless. That is The Truest Simple Everyday Miracle.
Until Next Time…
This week’s featured illustration is one of my favorites from our next book. It is from the chapter titled “A Simple Everyday Miracle” which tells mostly about learning to talk Gracie, but the chapter header illustration is not a drawing of me talking with Gracie. It is a drawing of the friendship between Gracie and Bessie.
A huge “Welcome!” to everyone who has recently signed up for our newsletter. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us, and we will do our best to make this a worthwhile newsletter for you. 
Thanks so much for reading!
John, Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia
Did you enjoy this issue?
John Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The Gracie Press Newsletter brings you the latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts from Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia. They are the inspiration behind all of the books published under The Gracie Press imprint.

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From A Small Backyard Garden and A Most Wondrous Place in Portsmouth, Virginia