It is Saturday morning, early enough, that it seems like me and the mockingbird, are the only ones in the world. The mockingbird sings from the patch of young woods, at the far corner of the territory. His song echoes with an almost magical lilt and comes through the open window of the old farmhouse. It is breezy enough, to make the pines whisper and a bit cool for an open window, but I like listening to his morning prelude, so I get a warm blanket and sit quietly, beneath it, in the dark, like an odd, old woman. I am not sorry one iota, for these moments. In fact, I feel privileged to know such a time.
The sun came up with a gentle light. I saw rain clouds in the near distance. By this time, a dove cooed softly and the wind had all but stopped. The sun dimmed and the rain clouds moved on, without much ado. . . and the pines stood still, without a refrain.
After all of the commotion, of last weekend, I am hoping this one, remains as peaceful as it has started.
Daddy celebrated his eighty-fourth birthday, yesterday. My sister Connie and her husband Mike – and niece Hayley , took him and Mama out for lunch. I stopped by after school with his favorite ice creams. Mama made her trademark, pineapple cake and someone tied a balloon on the mailbox. We are having a party next weekend to celebrate Christians’ and Daddys’ birthdays.
I can scarce take it in, that my daddy is eighty four -and that my “baby” can grow a beard in twenty four hours. It just goes to show , that even though we can measure time precisely, it still slips through our fingers stealthily -and slyly, with the skill of water.
I am at the rabbitpatch again this weekend. There is a fair share of things to be tended to, besides the usual housekeeping. The first mild days of the year act like a prod of sorts, on me-to get on with my business. Right now, my business is getting the rabbitpatch territory cleaned up. Besides the winter refuge of leaves and more small branches, there is the old refrigerator and a dryer to be removed. Besides that, there are two pieces of furniture in the house, that are long past their days of glory. Neither will make the trip to my future cottage. . .whenever that is.
The floors are in awful mess due to the rain and there is laundry to be put away -and the boxer is getting a bath. Besides that, tomorrow is Saint Patricks’ Day, when you have even a drop of Irish blood, then it calls for a celebration. We take our Irish heritage seriously and so we never let the day pass quietly. Jenny and Will, even got engaged on a Saint Patricks’ Day, years ago in Savannah, by a grove of live oaks.
This year, we are having a pot of hearty potato soup thickened with Irish cheese – and reuben sandwiches. It is a simple fare, compared to most years, but it still counts as a patronage to our ancestors, who had names like Hiram, Henderson McDuffy and Asabella Leary.
I started my housekeeping, cheerfully. The “spark” does not stay there as long as it used to, I notice. I wonder how in my late forties, I could clean the whole house, every nook and cranny, all day long. Certainly, I was tired in the evening, but the house fairly sparkled . . . in those days. What a difference a decade makes! I value cleanliness, as much now as ever, but I sure do not accomplish now, what I used to, in a day. It has helped that I have remained steadfast, in my desire to live without any clutter, but it still takes me twice as long as it used to, to scrub the floors -and I did next to nothing in the yard.
While I was out, I did note that the peach tree blossoms had been faded by a cold night, a few days ago.
Sunday morning dawned cold. I did not rise before the sun, this day. Neither did the birds. It was a quiet early service for a while. There was a light frost, which is natural in March. . . and which is why the peach tree, should have waited to bloom.
There was just enough chill in the air to warrant my hearty Irish soup. I still have housekeeping, too. I worked on and off yesterday til I just gave out. The farmhouse is so much bigger than it used to be. For some years, the house was just the right size. Grandmama was here and three of my sons. Every bedroom was occupied and the kitchen table was full at supper. A cake did not last, much more than a day or two, in those days. The clothes line was full, if the sun was shining and the broom was always out and handy. Those were merry days.
Now, boxes are stacked in corners, awaiting their destiny . . . .as am I. I remain optimistic, and patient . That is why the boxes are unpacked and I have pots waiting to be filled with clumps of flowers and sprigs of cuttings, for they are moving too. One day they will bloom on a small yard around a neat cottage. Grandchildren may have to share a chair at the table and folks will sleep in odd places, for it will on occasion, be a full house . . . that takes a half day to clean! And while I am dreaming, I should include roses – a lot of them.
I had the walls washed and the windows cleaned in the little den, before nine. I started a pot of chicken boiling, for the soup base. Then I tore the sofa apart – and moved it and the rest of furniture, making a total disaster, altogether. The boxer had not planned on this interruption and his face was filled with shock and disapproval.
By noon, the room was put back together and smelled like orange and rosemary. The soup was done and I only awaited a soft blanket to dry. Of course, there was more to be done . . .but it was only noon.
My bedroom was a piece of cake to clean. The sunroom was awful. It is in need of repair, which is disheartening in itself. I tend to ignore the room as it is a pitiful sight. I set about that task, which took twice as long as I expected. No matter how much I cleaned, it was hard to feel but a slight satisfaction, in my effort. It needs painting and the ceiling needs new paneling. The floor is two different kinds of vinyl and so no matter how clean it is, it is nothing short of an eyesore.
I took a stroll around the territory, as the sun was out and the wild violets are blooming. How sweetly the shy little violets make me feel. They are stalwart little things and do not fear the frost. The grass is greening in patches and some of the lilies are up . . .so are the irises. The boxer ran, leaping and bounding joyfully. Boxers, naturally like to celebrate and will do so “at the drop of a hat”. On this day in late winter, there was reason to be glad. A good deal of work had been accomplished, we had wandered, without hurry and a good supper was waiting. Dear Diary, There is always something, to be glad about.
It has become a tradition for me to complain about the time change, every year. Several days have passed and I am just now feeling a bit acclimated to the “changing of the clocks”. I dislike it as much as ever and find it just as ridiculous. It does not help one bit, that mornings are pitch dark when I rise. It could just as well be midnight. Stars are still shining, over a silent world, for things like mockingbirds, have better sense, than to stir in the pitch dark.
True, to the forecast, the weather has been mild during the day-and it has not rained for several days. Oh it is hardest to work inside, when the days are fair. My thoughts turn to things like the “laughing river” and what a grand day, it is to have a picnic. I wish I was home, hanging sheets on the line or gathering branches of Pops’ “golden rod” blossoms . . . or reading something delightful, in the sunshine. It was the same, when I was young.
I tolerated school fairly well . . until the first, silvery days of spring. Then I got “homesick”. I knew Pop was plowing a field and I could almost smell the earth. In those days, the classroom windows would be open, but there was no chance of smelling apple blossoms, in town. The air smelled like fuel and pavement, and the cafeteria food being cooked, just never smelled “right” to me.
I had several problems with lunchroom behavior, for while I didn’t want to eat that “canned stuff”, I was certain the birds might. I put the peas and carrots, in my milk carton and this worked for most of the year, until I dropped the carton, one day and peas rolled right to where the teacher was standing. This landed me in a tight spot for I was accused of wasting food, which ironically, I was trying not to do – and after that, the teacher had to check my tray every day. there were many more infractions, for I was likely to eat my dessert first and I refused the vegetable soup altogether. They served it on Fridays and I was sure they were using “scraps” to make it.
It is no wonder that I wanted to stare out that window, and imagine that beautiful place called home-which “got recorded as day dreaming”.
The classroom smelled like “math books”, lest I ever forget “modern math”. The books were brand new and filled with nonsense about how to add simple numbers. It was the only book, that I was tempted to leave out in the rain, or cut into paper dolls, but I knew better than that, for even a two cent library fine, was shameful, in those days. None of the adults liked “modern math” either . It was an awful waste of life, after all. I announced it to my teacher, who told Grandmama the next Sunday morning, as we attended the same church.
I am older now, and realise that I had wonderful teachers, really. I was just a bit too untamed to appreciate all of the civilization, that schools forced. . . and the library did cover a multitude of sins, as far as I was concerned.
Besides the fields and quiet pastures, I drive by a vacant lot, on the way to and from work. It is a short and peaceful commute that allows just the right amount of time to collect my thoughts. A vacant lot in the country is just a patch of land, usually void of buildings, though sometimes, there is an old barn or shed. More than likely, there will be a grove of pecan trees, or some old shade trees. Somebody will keep the lots mowed, but for them to be deemed vacant, means no one is ever seen there. Such lots are few and far between, in the country. There is one such lot, though a few miles from the rabbitpatch. It is covered now in daffodils, as it is every year. What a sight to come across! I can not imagine how this happened, but there it is, a field of daffodils. They are coming up carelessly, with no rhyme or reason, to any order. The buttery petals fill the ordinary lot, transforming it in to something spectacular. In other seasons, one might not give the place, a second glance, but in the spring, this is not so.
Though the calendar does not proclaim it, it does seem like spring has been declared. I am not sure what to make of, such an early arrival. I do not remember a spring so well under way, at this time of year, ever. I do hope a hateful frost does not come along and spoil everything. I love every season and most every kind of weather. In the winter, I love to see a bit of snow, and I will declare it the most beautiful sight of all. I love the autumn, when the countryside is painted in amber and gold and apricot. The smell of wood smoke and the skies of October make me fall hopelessly head over heels, with the season. In early summer, there is the wild honeysuckle and fresh cut grass. I love the garden and the morning glory climbing up old sheds and fences. In the summer, when stars number in the millions overhead, I am swept away in the beauty . . .and now with the return of the song birds and the Quiet Garden turning green, and all of those daffodils, then I say spring must be the best of all. I am surely fickle, but Dear Diary, I love everything wildly and with all of my heart!
Once again, it is Friday. Friday is never a dull day when I am working. It is easier to get up in the morning, no matter the conditions . . .for it is Friday! Coming home feels especially liberating and hopefulness abounds in the prospect of some time that belongs to you. Whether you plan to do housework, or read or go hiking, there is a beautiful element to “owning your life”. It is a truer form of wealth to me, than money ever dared to be.
Holding my laughing Brynn, or telling Lyla a story, walking amongst the old trees with the boxer, playing music with Christian-all of these things are priceless to me. I do not mind living frugally to afford these hours. I practiced the same habits, when my children were young, hence my pockets are filled with yesterdays’ gold, and so are theirs. I have more regrets, than I wish, but “taking to the woods in October, for a picnic” on a Tuesday, is not one of them.
This does not mean that I am not an advocate for work, but the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” does seem to ring dreadfully true. Finding your own balance is a quest to pursue with great fervor, for it makes all the difference in our life . . .and what skill, it requires, for the scales tilt, first one way and then another, as we go along, depending on our circumstances. What once worked, no longer does and off we go again, adjusting and adapting, according to our current needs. Balance is truly a lifelong endeavor, but the reward is also, lifelong.
This weekend is no ordinary weekend at the rabbit patch. Tomorrow is Christians’ birthday. Birthday ceremonies are not only for the day, at the rabbitpatch. We start before the eve of the special day and finish up, several days later. Only Christians’ favorite foods will be on the menu and he will be on “light duty” too.
Christian is my fourth and last son-and the youngest of five. He is not without fault, but they are few and far between. Worldly things hold little attraction for Christian-they never have. He is bored with trends and has never followed shallow dreams. He is compassionate, gentle, humble and an artist, to the core. He is one of the most spiritual people I know and has served as a beacon to me, on countless occasions. If it sounds like I am a doting mother, it is because I am. I do not bear a bit of shame in it, either. Far be it from me to make light of such a beautiful gift.
It is also Miss Thelmas’ birthday. Miss Thelma lives across the street from Jenny. Tomorrow will be Miss Thelmas’ ninety fifth birthday! She has been so excited. She explained to me, that she did not have a big wedding. She married just after World War II and the world was still recovering. She had a son , who passed a few years ago. Her husband is bed ridden, but has a clear mind, at 96! She told me today, that seeing her name in the Church Bulletin was just thrilling!
I met Miss Thelma several years ago, when Jenny and Will moved in to Riverside, the old village by the “laughing river”. A few weeks later, Miss Thelma came over with a card and candy, to welcome them. She was a striking lady with long silvery hair. Her smile was just beautiful. We struck up a conversation and became fast friends. She has done a good bit of traveling, and was head of the NC teachers for almost a decade. To her credit, she STILL has students, that come to visit her, thirty years after retirement!
Tomorrow, is a “red letter” day, in these parts!
I did not scurry a bit today. I did make a caramel cake for Christian. I have talked about it enough, that he wanted one too. I did laundry and other housekeeping tasks. I like to leave my house clean and orderly on Monday mornings, and it will be here sooner rather than later.
Though it rained again, last night, it did not rain today. I took a stroll around the rabbit patch in the still grey day. The boxer was with me as we explored the aftermath of winter. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought. There were branches, but all were small and manageable. The wind had brought in debris, which was found lodged in the old fence. The peach trees behind the barn were blooming, and so were the daffodils, making bright patches of bright yellow here and there. The forecast declares a stretch of dry, sunny weather, ahead . . . and so maybe, all hope is not lost for an abundant and colorful spring, after all.
Christian and I were up early on Sunday. He opened his presents, while a light rain fell. I was to play for Miss Thelmas’ birthday reception, so I hadn’t a moment to waste. It didn’t help a bit, that we had to change the time, as well. I received notice from two loved ones of bad news. just moments before I needed to leave. . .and so I left the rabbitpatch with a heavy heart.
It was a mild day and a friendly breeze was blowing. I drove to Elizabeth City, in rain and shine, for it would rain for a few miles, and then sunshine dappled the highway, the next few. I had to really concentrate on my driving, for I do not take sorrow lightly.
I barely made the service on time, which was very unsettling. The house Miss Claudia lived in, was just a street over, and how hollow I felt, all over again. What an awful time to be so full of sorrow – and late! I walked in to a church full of friendly folks. The pastor could not hide the relief, at seeing me. Neither could Miss Thelma, who was lovely as ever and fairly glowing. Somehow I manged the first song with a heart, not yet stilled. Listening to the sermon, improved my spirits, for the message was about the dependability of Christ. The second song came easier than the first, thankfully.
The ride back to the rabbitpatch, was much like the one, away from it. This time I noticed the blooming, stark white pear trees and the wildflowers growing everywhere. Sunbeams fell tenderly over the fields. How, I wondered, could a day hold so much beauty, be also filled with tragedy?
I had not been home long, when a dear friend, for over a decade, dropped by. Gayle and I were neighbors for a good while. She was steadfast and dependable, when my husband was sick. She dependably cared for my youngest sons and fed us all. When storms blew in, we got in the habit of cooking a joint supper. Today, she brought me a sweet picture of a rabbit. Her visit did me good, for we sat around the kitchen table, chatting, as if we still saw each other daily.
Afterwards, the boxer and I walked around the territory. I gathered more branches and collected a small bag of trash . . .again. All sorts of birds were flying about and singing cheerfully. I found a patch of wild violets. . . . and Dear Rabbitpatch Diary, I love violets.
What a mixed batch, the weekend was. Celebrations and calamities all at once, grey skies and sunlight. Oh how glad I am for old friends and violets.
It is hard to say whether or not “March came in like a lion”, for February made such a spectacle of itself, masquerading like the late days of April. Either way it is the time of March -the time of daffodils and wind.
I came to Elizabeth City on Thursday. A cold wind blew and rain soon followed. It didn’t matter for Jenny and I had plenty to do -and it was inside work. We had high hopes of changing out the wardrobes of both girls. I thought that would take the best part of a day. We also had planned a special supper for Wills’ “Aunt J” and his sister, Mari. We wanted to go to a new grocery store and I wanted to make a caramel cake. I have never made one from scratch, and the icing takes a long while to make, for it must simmer for about two hours. There was a lot to do, for we were not short on lofty notions.
Lyla always celebrates my arrival by running in to my arms and then hugs me for a long while. It is always a wonderful feeling-to know you are so loved. Brynn has been warming up to me over the last month and now she is quite satisfied in my arms. One thing, I can say with certainty, is that it is a wonderful blessing to be a grandparent.
Jenny and I started switching the clothes out on Friday morning. I had forgotten that Jenny has a small group of mothers that pass clothes along to one another. There were four or five bins to sort. Each bin was holding the maximum amount of little dresses, coats pajamas, socks and every other article of clothing you can imagine. First we sorted by size, then by season. Of course, first we had to sort through the clothes. the girls had out grown. Stacks of clothes soon filled the bedroom, for mothers, with younger children and ones for Brynn to grow in to. It took all day just to get to that point. Then it was time to wash all to be used. That happened on Saturday. As we went along, we cleaned the closet out, as it seemed foolish not to do so. Now here it is Sunday morning and there is still one bin left!
There was a lot of activity amongst the birds this morning. There were doves and the robin that sits on the fence surveying the goings and comings of everyone, was in his usual post. He always sits in the same spot, and does not stir from it, in my presence. There were sparrows and wrens – and some noisy blackbirds. A pair of cardinals were frantically on some mission and then . . .I saw the Tanager. I had to look twice. He was as red as could be, and made the cardinals “pale in comparison”. I have only seen these birds a time or two, in the last few years. I do hope, he decides to stay.
Will and Jenny met friends for brunch. Will has had such loss recently, first his beloved mother, then someone he admired, a mentor and a friend -and last week he lost his oldest and best friend to a sudden and fatal pancreas attack. Well, the friends of Will and Jenny just wanted to do something to lift their spirits, hence, a brunch. The little girls stayed with me and it was a delightful and calm hour.
When they all returned, I walked to Miss Thelmas’ for a quick visit. She has a birthday, this coming Sunday, on the same day as Christian! Miss Thelma is turning ninety-five! She has been planning a party, for weeks. She showed me her napkins and she has party favors for all of the children. Her church will host the event. I am playing the violin, at her request, during the service. I am trying to persuade Christian to play with me. A good guitarist, like love, does cover a “multitude of sins”. I helped Miss Thelma choose an outfit and listened to her grand plans. It made me glad to see her so full of joy and anticipation. Jenny and I started on the last of the clothing, when I got back.
It took all afternoon, to wash and place the clothes in the drawers and closet -or into a half dozen piles with different destinations. By evening. the piles were packed and some sent on their way. The upstairs bedroom was orderly at last. Jenny and I were so tired, that we ordered supper out. Lyla was tired too, from trying on one dress after another . . . and shoes . . .and coats. I took a shower and told Jenny, how good it felt and that I was restored, body and soul, from those wicked stairs and sitting on the floor for hours. When Jenny got her shower, I asked happily how she felt and she said . . . “exhausted.”
Another thing I can say with certainty, is that Lyla and Brynn do not need any clothing for the next several seasons -and at this rate, Brynn may never need anything til she is in the fourth grade! It is a sensible practice, but it does require an amazing amount of effort. . .and so I never did make that caramel cake.
It rained again that night. Rain fell and muted the street lights. There was wind too. Lyla watched the young willow, from the nursery willow. The bare tendrils swirled gracefully. Lyla loves the willow. She loves to play under it when the leaves fill the branches, for it makes the perfect canopy to dance beneath-or to have a tea party. Lylas was upset that the willow was bare, so I explained to her that the earth was just resting. Now, Lyla loves the willow, but the other day, she was in the back yard talking to a little fig tree. I heard her say “Grow little tree!” I know you can!” Jenny says that Lyla often talks to the fig tree. I may be the only grandmother alive, that would say so, but this thrilled me with no end. It will come as no surprise that I talked to trees when I was but a child. It came about quite naturally. . .and I still do.
Before I left Elizabeth City, I noticed a few green, tender leaves on one of the branches of Lylas’ willow tree. I told her and she ran to the porch to see for herself.
Dear Rabbitpatch Diary, In a world so changed, from the one I knew, and I fear, some beauty lost , . . . I will remain hopeful . . for as long as children talk to trees. . . there is hope.
It was not raining when I woke on Sunday. There was a bit of wind rattling the bare oak branches and the sky was that now familiar, pale pewter color. I noticed the forsythia is in bloom, which I call “golden rod” as my Pop always did. Pop, my maternal grandfather loved the bright yellow blooms of the forsythia, but he always refused to call them by their rightful name. To him they were golden rods, and there was no convincing him otherwise. I never see one, that I do not remember him and today was no different. If sunshine could bloom, it would be called “golden rod”.
Now, today I must focus on tidying up the old farm house. Plenty of things are in the wrong place, which always ends up in a catastrophe. Also, I am getting ready for selling the rabbitpatch. This requires a great deal of preparation. I do not mind looking at houses with flaws, for I can see past them. Some folks can not. Will can not. Once, we were looking at an adorable home. I loved it, but Will said “The walls are purple!” and dismissed it as impossible! My friend Jo Dee and I looked at a dear cottage, but the yard was in need of mowing – and had been. Jo Dee could not imagine the yard tidy nor mowed! I must take that, into account. I remember the first time someone came to look at the rabbitpatch. (Remember that every closet and cabinet is fair game.) When it was over, I prayed they would buy it and that would be the end of the nightmare!
I had hoped to begin again in February, but just now, the landscape is so dull, save the spirea and the “golden rod”. I love the winter landscape, but I can not deny the splendor of spring at the rabbitpatch. I suspect some folks would be persuaded in spring, more so, than the fading days of February. . . and most especially, when the peach trees bloom.
It was a pleasant surprise, when the sun came out, in the mid afternoon. I had put some of the windows up, since there was a mild breeze blowing. I was as convinced as the spirea, that spring was just around the corner and then I chided myself, for falling so easily for “fools’ gold”- if it is the prelude to spring, it will be the earliest one, I have ever known. I do hope no one starts their garden now or anytime soon, for it is mid April, before the danger of frost is truly past.
Meals are served at odd hours under such circumstances, as deep cleaning. We ate a late breakfast, skipped lunch and had an early supper. I finished all of the rooms but three and was satisfied with the progress. The last three rooms will be done, when I can get to them. The yard is in shambles presently, but that will require several days-long days, to complete.
I went out, when night had fallen. The stars shone brightly. I felt like they were long lost friends, come back at last. Orions’ belt was bold and glittered like a strand of rare diamonds. I tarried briefly, in the star shine letting it wash over me like an ancient tonic . . .
Now Monday came along, and that changed everything. The sun came up, heralding the day with a burst of golden glory. It has been a while, since the day dawned in such a way. I had a good day at work and came home to wait for Mama and Daddy and the boys. Mama and Daddy were worried, because my refrigerator wasn’t cooling as it ought to, due to the seal. I had been tolerating it a while , but that wouldn’t do, for Mama and Daddy. I pulled the old refrigerator out, cleaned behind it and unloaded the contents. I even decided to start supper and all was well, when they pulled up. Besides the refrigerator, they had a puppy ! He was a tiny thing and looked like a little boxer. He was found on a road, without a near by house. The boys asked the residents of the few houses down the road, but no one knew anything about the little fellow. I guessed him to be only five to six weeks old. Thankfully, my parents’ neighbor was planning to rescue a dog, and had just been approved, to do so. We agreed to keep him tonight, so she could prepare and make an appointment with a veterinarian. I think sadly, he was abandoned. His little eyes were still tinged with blue. I gave him some warm milk, which he gulped greedily. Daddy held the puppy tenderly while the boys tended to the many details of replacing a refrigerator. Daddy loves dogs and was very worried about him. The puppy was soon fast asleep in Daddys’ arms. In the midst of the new appliance and the puppy and supper, someone called to say they were interested in the rabbitpatch. What a lot of commotion in that hour!
After supper and after a bath for the puppy, I had a pleasant conversation with the woman interested in the house. They currently live in a very old house, not so far away. I told her the awful truths of the place and did not sugar coat a thing. . . though I did also say, that the place had more charm , than any place I have ever lived, for that is also true. We have an appointment, in the near future.
Tuesdays’ sunshine made the ornamental pears bloom . . .and the daffodils,too. The drive to work on Wednesday gave me evidence of that. It is too late to turn back now, for blossoms are everywhere, frost or not, I will enjoy what the current conditions are affording. . . .and it is lovely.
Maybe the seasons have shifted. Scientists even say so. So many people are glad for shorter winters, but has anyone asked the birds,? for this surely affects their migration habits. Well, climate really affects every living thing. It is an amazing but sobering subject. We ought to all practice good stewardship of this planet, we call home. This is one “bandwagon” we all should be on. It is bewildering to me, that this does not dominate headlines, as we will none escape this predicament unscathed. Instead, the networks cover who wore what to some event. . . Dear Rabbitpatch Diary, every day I sound older, I realise.
On a brighter note, the little foundling, went to his new home today. The lady that took him, said she had just been praying for a puppy – the right puppy to adopt, when the boys showed up with him. I take great joy and comfort in that.
It is Friday again and it seems it was just Friday, a few days ago! Here we are in the “short rows” of winter, already. I notice that seasons, now seem but a few weeks, and the years zip pass, too.
As a child the time between Christmases, seemed like an eternity – the same can be said for birthdays. Summers were really endless, in my youth, though they were never long enough to suit me. I remember my elders would talk about something that happened twenty years ago, as if it were just last year. I thought they were “mad” for they always seemed startled, when they realised, it was decades ago, that the barn was that old, or since they had seen a certain cousin. Now, I understand fully well, their predicament. . . and as it turns out, I am every bit as mad now, as they ever dared to be.
It is raining again, as it has most every day, for weeks. The rabbitpatch sits on high ground and rarely a puddle forms here. The yard is a soggy mess now and there are puddles. Some folks can hardly walk in their yards and cars are getting stuck regularly . I have read that we have more rain this year than any other year, recorded – and I believe it. In that case, I am perfectly content sitting under a soft blanket, by the morning table. I still have books to read and I need to write in my journals. I haven’t baked bread as often as I wanted too, nor practiced sketching. . . and here we are in the twilight of winter!
Some people are glad of it. I however, am not prone to “wish time away” . . .well, not entire seasons, at least. I am as guilty as can be, when it comes to “official appointments” of any sort.
It was still raining Saturday morning, when I woke. I had heard it falling throughout the night. At first light, I looked out the window and the scene reminded me of a black and white photograph. Little silver droplets clung to the old oak and with just a bit of imagination, it looked like the old oak was decorated with tiny lights. It was a beautiful picture and I dwelled on it for a while.
I decided to make a pot of soup, as I am apt to on rainy days. By now, it is almost a ritual for me. I hardly ever make soup, unless it is winter. I will make the tomato basil in months like June, but again, only if it rains. I was out of carrots, but I did have a small sweet potato, which is a fine substitute . . and so before ten o’clock, the kitchen smelled like home.
Tonight, Mama and I are teaming up for supper, so I have more cooking to do. I think I will make apple dumplings, for Brant is coming and he especially loves apples. Mama is cooking a pork roast and so I will probably fry cornbread, as it pairs well with pork. Nobody will mind that we had it last weekend, either. I had been thinking to cook a pot of green beans too. They would be a good side with our supper fare, but alas, when I had the pot of seasoning boiling, the greenbeans in the freezer, turned out to be broccoli. It was a shock, as I had planned on the menu, for days. After a bit, the thing became funny-though Daddy won’t think so.
There is always housework, and today I will tackle that. Still, Saturday seems like a soft breeze, compared to days like Tuesday.
As is always the case, the day slipped by til it was time to make the apple dumplings. I wanted them to be warm when we ate them. They cooked all to pieces. Of course we can eat them, for the taste is really almost divine, but they aren’t the usual cute little dumplings. It was just a day of humbling, for me.
As I got ready to walk out the door, the rain picked up and fell with the most force of the day. Evening came early, with the dense clouds blanketing the sky and so it was almost dark as I traveled the back roads. I did see a few deer, but they were in the fields, grazing safely, out of harms’ way.
The supper was enjoyable, even without the string beans – and even though the dumplings weren’t at all attractive. Mamas’ roast was tender and the cornbread was golden and crispy. Of course, every meal is better when shared with loved ones.
It was pitch dark, when I drove back to the rabbitpatch. Thank goodness, the “creeks didn’t rise” while I was out, though they might, shortly. The forecast calls for rain again tomorrow, after all. The countryside was so quiet. Silvery fog hung thick over the fields and covered up the stars, without a bit of mercy. Then there were the stretches of the journey through the woods . I thought of all the beauty this world affords us, as I drove along, for mist over woodlands is a thing of beauty. A lifetime is just not long enough to take it all in.
At last, I reached the friendly lights of the rabbitpatch, and stepped out of that magical, silent world into the presence of a joyful dog, celebrating my return, the way all dogs do. . .then I called Mama to let her know that I was home “safe and sound”. Another thing of beauty . . .is to be loved.
Friday has a different “feel” to it, in months like February, when the school year is in full swing. It does not have the same affect in the summer months. By the time the wild honeysuckle vines are clambering up the woodland trees, I often have lost all track of what day it is. . .but oh, in February, Friday means something. If I stay at the rabbitpatch on the weekend, I do not cook supper and I abandon chores too. . .at least on Friday night.
Today was warm and a slight breeze blew, tenderly. I feel much younger, than I really am, on such days. I have no idea why, but I always do. Sometimes, there is just no “rhyme or reason” for things. The spirea continues to proceed with great haste . It blooms now – because it can, in this “mock spring”, by a little shed, near the edge of the woods. I painted the shed a watery shade of blue, years ago. The shed has never been used much, but the original owner, wrote his name and the year in the cement floor. . .and so I kept the shed, for no other reason. Years later I planted the spirea. There is a grave there of a dog -a collie who was beloved and was a companion to the original family, according to Miss Sylvia, who is now, also passed. The spirea almost shades his resting place now.
On Saturday morning, I woke to the sound of a light rain. If the sun shines and the warm temperatures remain, I suppose that peach tree will bloom, shortly. I did not spring from bed, as only a week day warrants that. I lingered instead, in the good fortune of a soft blanket and a loyal dog sleeping by my feet. The rain fell gently, without a hint of malice. How wonderful to wake without a sense of rush and obligation, I thought.
I eventually had coffee and read a beautiful article on forgiveness, which I took to heart. There were things to do but all were some of my favorites. We gather tomorrow, for Mamas’ birthday celebration and so I had some cooking to do. I also had some housekeeping to do. I believe in equal pay for women and fair treatment, but I would be a poor representative of the current movement, for I am so content cooking and cleaning. I wish I had time to bake on a Tuesday as I used to. I have a domestic old fashioned heart and tending to babies may always be the most satisfying work I have ever done. Above all else, on this earth . . .I love “hearth and home.”
I also plan to practice my calligraphy today. I suppose, this is becoming a lost art and not nearly as useful as it was years ago, but I like it and practicing is as peaceful a project as I know of. I will also study edible flowers. I have used violets and pansies for years on cakes and in salads, but there is a much broader spectrum of choices. . .besides I always devote myself to studying flowers in February-and neither calligraphy nor gardening should yield anything, but plenty of inspiration.
Last weekend, as I have written, was very busy. Jenny was hurrying to get the little girls dressed and I looked at Will and winked, for I knew full well, that Jenny could not be bothered to think about supper. I think about supper the night before, but Jenny is likely to make a decision just an hour before the meal. I knew there were a lot of us and we would all certainly be hungry, by supper, for we always are – so I mustered the courage to ask. Just as I expected, Jenny replied sharply that she couldn’t think about that at the moment. Will and I grinned . Then Will and Jenny mentioned my lack of planning for anything -except meals. I defended myself by saying I do plan. Will laughed aloud as he is always chiding me about my lack of financial planning. He said “What do you plan?” and I answered “gardens”. Will said good naturedly “well, there’s that”. ( I also plan for Christmas and to prove it, my “Christmas closet” is not empty at this moment . . .but I did not mention that.)
Since, I would be busy in the kitchen, I had the notion to clean out the refrigerator. I keep the refrigerator very tidy, for every Thursday, I go through the contents, but how every tray and shelf in the thing, needs to be washed, is beyond my wildest imagination. Next, I inspected the kitchen cabinets and to my dismay, they also needed attention. All the while, the rain fell and the stove top was full of simmering pots. . .and I was “happy as a lark”.
It was well past seven and the world was pitch dark when I finished in the kitchen. I do not know when it got dark, nor when it got cold.
I slept soundly, which is a benefit of work-and then it was morning. Today was Mamas’ birthday party. I knew of several households that, like me, had things to do. I had finished the most of my cooking yesterday, but you can not make cornbread ahead of time -and so there was that to do. I had done laundry yesterday, but had piled everything on the kitchen table, so there was that to do as well. Still, I had ample time to collect my thoughts in the chilly morning moments. A few of the winter birds sang just as light came to the day. The countryside was still and silent, other than that. There is never much traffic and country dogs do not bark like the ones in town do. Well, if a country dog barks, you best go see why. . .at least that is the case here.
There is something about morning that is holy to me. Once, chores are started or a television is turned on or a phone rings . . .well, such things seem to break the spell. Each day and night can hold sacred times, but for me it is the morning, most of all. It is for this reason, that I rise so early, especially on the days I work. I first take in to account my dreams, which mostly come in flashes. I pray next and I like to write in the morning, for that is when all sorts of thoughts seem to ascend upon me. By now, I am drinking coffee. There is such a purity present in the first hours -and truths seem more evident, upon my waking. Even the sorrows of yesterday “get put in their place” in the morning. The night , seemingly, having stolen, at least, some of their fierce thunder.
The birthday dinner was at one o’clock. I went early to fry the cornbread there. It was a smaller gathering than usual, as several family members were out of town. We were not short on food though. Mama ought to not to have to cook for two days, as we left her well stocked.
She is hoping Daddy will take her out to eat anyway . . .and I bet he will.