This is a “to be continued next time” story and illustration…I don’t know where either will be going.
…I returned to my sketchbook and to studying the autumn tomato vines. They have become bent and beaten down by the heavy winds and rains that have come at the end of hurricane season. Their growth has become straggly in search of more sunlight in the shorter days. They remind me of the lines on a face, the lines on a heart, the lines on a map.
When I looked up from my sketchbook, I saw Amelia doing something I have never seen her do before, and I knew I must add her to the drawing.
She was facing into the warm, much too warm for autumn, wind blowing strongly from the south. It was the last of a hurricane turned tropical storm that had crossed the Gulf of Mexico and followed the Appalachian mountains to get to the mid-Atlantic states.
Her mouth was open, but her eyes were closed. She was smiling sublimely. I imagined she was dreaming of tropical places with brilliant colors we can only imagine here where fall is slowly turning to winter.
When she had finished, I asked her, “You were dreaming of faraway places, weren’t you, Amelia? Wishing you could see beautiful sights? Tasting colors I can only imagine?”
“No, not at all. I’m sorry, but you are wrong.”
“I thought you were being poetical. You do get that way sometimes.”
“I was being practical,” she said. “I am making a map. A map of the world.”
That was when I knew she was preparing to make a journey beyond the safety of our garden.
I asked her no more questions then. Instead I let her go back to her mapmaking. How could she make a map without any paper or tools? I would find out more details later, perhaps from Emily who knows her best.
But Emily did not know, and so if I was to ever understand, I would have to find out from Amelia herself.
When the right moment came, I asked her as directly as she would ask me, “Tell me about your mapmaking, Amelia.”
But then rather than listening to what she had to say, I showed her a map from my favorite geography book. I thought it would spark her curiosity as it had done mine so many years ago. And I secretly hoped it might convince her to stay and no longer think of anything except life in our little garden home.
”Maybe you can study this one instead of making your own,” I suggested.
“I can not use that map.”
”Well, I know it has words on it, but I could tell you what those words are or even help you learn to read them. Some of them have pictures of real things and where they are found. Maybe we can find an alligator in Florida and flamingos too. They are like tall pink chickens.”
She shook her head. She was not amused at my description of flamingos or impressed by my book.
“You can even have this book if you’d like.” I took out a pencil. “Look, we can even write your name in it.”
She shook her head again, only this time there was empathy in her eyes for me. She knew my heart wanted so much for her to stay, to avoid dangers beyond our garden walls, to only know what there was to know in our own separate world. She knew I was hoping this book of maps with pictures of faraway places might convince her to stay. We both knew that it wouldn’t.
I closed the book and put away the pencil.
“I am sorry, Amelia. I should not have treated you as a little child, as not knowing anything on your own. I should have been listening before I started telling.”
I sat on the ground beside her and said simply, “Tell me about your map of the world, Amelia.”
And so she did…
Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! I truly appreciate all of the warm wishes and positive comments from you, our readers. Your encouragement throughout the process made this a much better book than I would have been able to make on my own!