It Happened in April


9bdd368ee6b30616ea7289748bc5621b                                                                                                           April’s light is quickly fading over the rabbit patch,  but it does not leave me empty-handed or faint of heart.   I stay on a mission to gather beautiful things-and what a collection I found in April! 

Easter fell early and so did a chilly rain that day. All was not lost because families still gathered around tables laden with a variety of holiday dishes, candles and flowers.  It was a sweet event and I tucked that memory in my heart. I met a new friend that day, and now I have someone else to love.

The jasmine bloomed in April along with the dogwoods. They do not care if one is a gardener or not, either way, they share their blossoms with the world.  It is about impossible to ignore their generosity.  No matter how distracted we are with worldly burdens, the sight of April’s flowers can interrupt gloomy thoughts-and oh how softly they infiltrate the heart. If you have lived for many seasons at your home,  you may see them as reliable friends. In unfamiliar places, flowers are like sweet surprises  bestowed upon you from an unknown person before you.   Whether you care for them or not, flowers and trees, too, will bloom in April.  We ought to all do the same and give as they do.

Kittens were born in April and children found them.  The kittens may as well have been diamonds. No matter your thoughts about cats-you will never convince a child that finding a litter of kittens is a bad thing. 

April is surely a time to build. Consider the birds.  Bluebirds, robins and wrens are all doing the same thing as young humans-finding a place to call “home” . The nesting time is upon us and whether or not we intend to, we all give thought to where we dwell in April. “Spring cleaning” did not get its’ name on a whim.  We clean the house thoroughly as if preparing for an April inspection-and a woman is likely to buy curtains this season. In April, we had the courage to put geraniums on the porch. The grass turned green and all seemed well when it did.

I started having coffee outside this month. Once, I left a cup very briefly and found several wisteria petals in it when I returned.  It was actually lovely to see and I almost drank it anyway.  I learned later, I could have. April’s snow of blossoms is something I always love. This year, a day or two of unusually fierce wind about robbed me of  seeing the air full of floating flowers-so finding a bit of lavender in  my coffee did not offend me, but instead claimed a place in my heart with the rest of  my April memories.

I always read poetry in April. I am not a fan of modern verse.  I prefer the flow and rhythm of Yeats and Longfellow.  I memorize poetry as I have great concerns that this world has gotten too busy to read a poem. I fear that one day , poets will be forgotten altogether-so I tuck poems in my heart too-especially in April.

I went to the fanciest restaurant that I have ever been to this month. Lyla had her first birthday!  I had a birthday too. The woodstove got cold in April, and a kind neighbor tilled the garden with out me needing to ask.  A friend picked strawberries and shared them with me. April is a wonderful month!  I may have even solved a mystery that has been plaguing me a long while. I smelled clover just yesterday-and night before last, I saw a falling star with a red tail!  I have never seen that before. The irish in me thinks it meant something wonderful is going to happen.

What a collection of beautiful things that April offered.  Flowers bloomed and the wind planted more. A holiday was celebrated and kittens were born. The rain fell and so did a star. Birds built nests and sang while they did it. . . and it all happened in April.99be56f4bf6a952ec17dba69c4c9a45c

 

 

Advertisements

In the Shade of a Tree


d6c6dd47d61dc74cc91a4279eea2befb

If we were having coffee, it would be served in china teacups.  We may visit under the shade of an old oak in the back yard. 

I would tell you that living on the remnants of a farm, in an old house is a beautiful way to live, some days- other days it can feel  lonely especially, if you are the last one left there.   Some times, I am inspired that I call the large yard with its’ blossoms and fruit trees my own-other times, I feel stranded in a place that out grew me. 

You would hear  of my gratitude for the soil that has fed me and those I love, in a most unselfish manner- and for a long while.  It has become an old friend.  The trees around us, were here before I was. It was “love at first sight” when I saw them, and my love  for  them remains steadfast. They have held swings and forts.  Their shade has been a refuge from the wicked heat in the summer garden. We have celebrated a marriage beneath their canopies-and mourned the loss of loved ones there as well. Trees are never “fair-weather friends”.

I will tell  you that  just beyond the barn,there is a young patch of woods full of secrets about it’s community of rabbits and birds- and beyond that, there are fields. The view of a field has been highly under-rated and  I would want you to know that. A field  is proof of man’s courage and determination. When I need bravery, I go to a field.

Having coffee under an old tree is a fine way to celebrate the seasons that I called this place “home”. My sons are now men , and my only daughter is a mother herself- Change is as likely as rain, I tell you.  It was change that brought me here and it is change that is leading me from it.

I may need to reassure you, that I will not leave with a heavy-heart,but rather a soul that is liberated and no longer needs to worry over loose tin on barns and mowing a five acre yard. I would rather be strolling with my first grandchild or standing on the beach with her uncles and hearing their dreams. Besides that,somewhere, there is a cello waiting for me to play it.  There are pictures that I need to paint and words unfolding for me to write.  I am older now, and these tasks not only suit me better, but beckon to me as well.  I will tend a smaller garden and be glad about it, I tell you truthfully.

I hope you will leave our “coffee break”, with the notion that it was time well-spent. I want you to leave with enough inspiration to spend your life wisely-and it might take a bit of courage and a good deal of faith to do so. Thank goodness for fields! May I invite you for another cup of coffee and one last look at mine?

 

The Quiet Garden


5f878a9af4c5f0d6638aaa30669c4902

It is just after a “holiday” at the rabbit patch.  When I spend four days with my children, it is  red letter days on our calendar, no matter when it happens!  When it’s over, I go to the Quiet Garden,  which now is full of Aprils’ last roses.

I had a grand time in Wilmington, and feel sorry it’s over.  It’s always the same for me and about foolish, I think that I get such a sense of melancholy the day after I return.  Thank goodness for the Quiet Garden!  I named the rose garden after Gladys Taber’s flower garden.  I always name things that I love.  I am not sure  there is much rhyme or reason for this habit, but it  is a well-established pattern of mine.

   I have had ” a place” since I was a child.  No one had to teach me to do so-I just knew it was a good practice.  I never told anyone about any  spot that I claimed for my own. Imagine my surprise when once, years ago, my then, six year old Tres, shared his own secret place with me.  I hope he has one now.

The Quiet Garden at the rabbit patch has served me well over the decade.  The roses and violets never hinder my thoughts. They do not make light of my concerns-and they keep my secrets, much like good friends.  The picket fence  that frames it, strains under the weight of  several climbing varieties of roses.  The violets bloom where they please.  There is a bird bath in the center with roses growing round it. There are black-eyed susans claiming a corner and purple cone flowers make themselves at home there too.  They showed up without an invitation  but are quite useful when “company’s coming” and I need a vase for the table.

I never intended to have a Quiet Garden, full of roses and violets-like most good things, it just happened  as naturally as a late spring shower . Someone  gave me some picket fence -so The Quiet Garden was born .  My place of refuge and solace or the place for a summer garden   party  came about because someone cleaned their barn out.

Something I have learned about myself is that sorting things out is very important to my well-being.  If I don’t, then I get things all out of perspective and that never turns out well . I often think that if I fill my heart with good things, that I will make less room for undesirable notions .

When I returned from “my holiday” to my beloved rabbit patch- the first news I got was that Christopher Robin had broken a favorite porcelain rabbit in my den.  I had just left my children and wasn’t over it and so I about cried at such a crime.  That rabbit was named “St. Peter” and had been a gift from my friend, Julie.  She had tied the sweetest little ribbon  on him and I remember the day she did so.  My naughty kitten watched me from a safe distance and proceeded to give himself a bath!  He did not need the Quiet Garden to know that his human was prone to odd ways.

It did not take a long while among the roses for me to know that he was right.  I walked out of that garden with my  heart full of gratitude for my sweet children, a gray kitten-and a neighbor who cleaned his barn out.

“One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.”8abedf2609df217a5f8b7f6096b631ae

 

 

 

 

 

 

South of the Rabbit Patch


524851cfc86397d7308f4a552f8668a9

Wilmington lies a few hours south of the rabbit patch.  The city is rich in culture and full of artists. There is also the ocean.  I love all of those things-but it is the home of two of my sons, and that is why I leave the rabbit patch for a week-end on occasion.

I  used to travel  some a long while back, and I am glad of it.  I saw people  that spoke different languages and ate different foods. I took note of the trees and the songs of the birds that were on “foreign soil”. It was interesting to see the unfamiliar livelihoods of the people. The world seemed bigger than I could have ever considered-and it is.

Some things are the same everywhere.  People work hard and come home to their loved ones with great satisfaction.  We all say the same things though in different tongues.  We celebrate and mourn.  We build up and tear down. The human heart is quite universal .  It was a beautiful realization to know that love is all over the planet and though our methods may vary in our expressions, love remains.  Some how this makes the world seem almost “cozy”.

I spend my life mostly at the rabbit patch these days.  I prefer to.  I have now lived there ten years, and still the rabbit patch has its’ secrets!  Angels in Heaven know that I have devoted more than a good share of my life to that place and it is without regret.  I know the creatures that call it home and where they dwell.  I know what the sky looks like by day and night, and consequently, where the shadows fall.  

My two oldest sons live in Wilmington and it is on account of that I venture south ever so often.  What a different life lies  just a bit south of the rabbit patch!  I so love the bakeries, coffee shops and bookstores downtown-and there are young musicians on the sidewalks, pouring their heart out in song for the busy crowds-how beautiful!  There are fancy restaurants that serve fancy food and the people are friendly and make you feel welcome.  I especially love the historical houses-so grand and surrounded by huge lawns with old magnolia trees.  All of the south’s charm and graciousness can be found in Wilmington.  And then, there’s the ocean with it’s white sand.  The water is especially clear and the loveliest shade of blue.  There are a lot of reasons to visit this part of the coast-but my boys outshine all of that for me.

My boys spent their childhood in the woods-I made sure of it.  They fished out of small ponds and had animals that lived in a barn.  They built forts and played with “Indians” that they called friends.  They ate  what the garden grew and slept outside under meteor showers more than a few times. It was a grand time.

Now the goal of every parent is to raise their children in a way that allows them to become independent humans.  Independent enough to discover their own truths, independent enough to discover their abilities and hopefully contribute to the planet in their unique ways.  The theory sounds spectacular and so noble.  I have wished many times that this could be done at home-right on the rabbit patch, where I could cook their supper and make sure that they slept on sheets with the faint smell of lavender!

When I first visited them in Wilmington, I realised that my notions were fruitless.  The boys were actually young men !  They have nice homes and well established lives.  They have good neighbors and good friends.   The traffic does not bother them and the city does not seem too big for them.  This is their home.  I am always the last to know about anything and this news came as a shock.  I wondered if they remembered any of the poetry I read to them as children or the words to “Ave Maria”.  Did they remember the woods?  I wanted them to grow up a bit wild and  they landed in a civilized city!  

As it turns out, all my fretting was much ado about nothing. Both of my sons, garden and they  even still fry green tomatoes. One of them camps out and the other blazed a little trail in a small patch of woods behind his home. One spent many hours restoring my “Pop’s” garden trailor, with its iron wheels.  His brother knows the wrens that live on his porch.  When the “country comes to town”, they share these things with me, and my heart takes comfort that their time of growing up was as beautiful as I remember.

The rabbit patch will seem especially quiet when I return.  It always does. Once I thought I really do live in the “middle of nowhere”.  There are not to many places to go and no need to hurry about getting to any of them. We do not have an ocean, but instead creeks.  Dogs and tractors are the sounds of the rabbit patch.  Still, my love for such things keeps my heart loyal to the way of life I have. It is not “nowhere”-it is my home.

One April Morning


1f134aa797ed6a8ffa2ab1cc6ec95ca9 (1)

April is the month to write poems. It is the time to listen to music that is played by heart.  It is a time to hope and  make wishes. This is my birthday month.

 Children born in April are often dreamers by nature and especially sentimental.  I don’t see how it could be otherwise.  Early on, the child of April, is outside  on the many gentle days.  They are introduced to blossoms and  breezes that may already smell like roses.  Just yesterday, our Lyla napped on a soft blanket under a flowering tree-she will surely believe in fairies and who can blame her?

So, I was born on a morning in April fifty-seven years ago, the first child to my parents, and the first grand daughter to my maternal grandparents.  I grew up in a happy time to be a child and I remain so very grateful for that. I didn’t just feel loved, but cherished.  The “world” was given to me in small doses and at fitting times. I was nurtured sensibly and unspoiled, though I didn’t want for anything.  I was quite unhindered in my youth.  Childhood took a long time to get through, as it ought to.  I truly believe that those seasons have made all the difference in my life.  Country folks are often considered “slow”.  I find them thorough and far from slow.  They think way ahead and tread with great consideration into the future.  They are careful not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater!”  Needs and wants are different things entirely.

The lessons I learned early in life have stuck with me “like white on rice” and I am not a bit sorry for it.  All of that imagination, that I used as a child has come in useful right now in modern times.  When ever I have found myself in a “rough patch”-it is imagination of a better time that has saved my heart from just giving up.  It is most valuable in the practice of compassion.  Imagination aids in understanding the heart of others.  It is most difficult to quarrel when you consider someones’ circumstances.  Imagination will not allow me to hold a grudge and “The golden Rule” isn’t nearly as difficult to live by.  I have listened to more than a fair share of sermons in my life-but it was my people and their way of life that they handed down to me that showed me how to live and how to love.  I love to say that”their sermons were in their shoes”.

I have always heard that “time flies when you’re having fun”.  It must be true, I reflect on my 57th year!  I think of all the changes in my life and realise first-hand that the ability to move forward is a never ending endeavor.  Often we have no choice in the matter.  It does seem to me sometimes, that with all of the  many conveniences this decade offers that we are busier than ever.  It is odd to me that life seems so much more complicated now than in Aprils passed. Just for good measure, I continue to “go kicking and screaming” sometimes in to the new way to do something.  

Youth is a beautiful thing- and so full of swagger, which is quite necessary at that particular time.  It is a time to build and gather.  Dream-weaving is a natural state of  young humans.  It is the truth for every one. There is such beauty in listening to my own childrens’ dreams. Many of my prayers are prayed on their behalf. I love every one of them “like rain” and spend most of my wishes on them too- the first stars and dandelion dust and the birthday candles.

 Even this birthday, has not made me feel too old to dream for myself.  I have gotten bolder as they all say you do in “old age”.  I have no shame in my “high cotton” dreams. I made a wish on my birthday and immediately saw a redbird-that has got to mean something-at least it does to a child born on an April morning, no matter how many moons have risen over the rabbit patch since.4890654155c476442f3be6f89224aafe

 

 

Birds of a Feather


12167030_1076516372373330_1455650527_nI

All of my life, I have had friends. All of my life, it has made the difference-never so more, than now.

When we are young, friends are necessary for play.  My first friends were my cousins, though I would  have never considered them that in my childhood.  Lucky for me, the country road that I grew up on was full of them. I had teenage cousins that actually would play with us younger ones.  I wanted to be like them when I grew up.  The girls were pretty and lady-like.  No one had to tell me that they were almost grown!  They preferred more civilized ways to play.  No one got dirty and your hair never got tangled because ever so often, somebody would brush it. Play was quiet with the older girl cousins.  I felt like something important was going on and would take notes about how they acted.  At some point, a commotion would come in the back door and break my trance.

The rowdy boy cousins were a force to be reckoned with.  They played rough games that were loud and you were liable to get hurt.  They did do  their best to be tender with their little girl cousins. Their bikes were big so they would push us around on them before it was their turn-and then they’d take off like “the devil was after them” and leave us to our own devices. I got nipped by their boxer once, listened to their scary stories and watched one of them eat poison ivy to prove he wasn’t allergic to it.  I was sure he would die and said extra prayers for him.

It was a long time after that  I had any friends outside of the family.  Parents were not concerned about socialization ethics in that day.  None of us were trained to be athletes as children and if you learned how to play music it was from an aunt or uncle-who would just start playing and say “jump in when you can.”  The only camps we attended was the “Christian service camp” in the same town we lived in.  When one grew up. you were sent for a week.  In the early part of the week, the women would pack up food from home and pack us younger cousins  all in a car for a visit.  I don’t think any of us ever stayed the whole week.

Somehow, we all ended up with the coveted social graces.   We grew up and all of us acquired good status and had plenty of friends.  I still call some of the friends I made then, friends today. I made some especially dear friends as a young mother that have their own places in my heart now.  No matter, the years we were barely in touch-friends do not recognize long absences as any thing other than that. We may only have talked at Christmas, and would always vow to do better in the new year to come, but most often we didn’t.  We were raising our children and stretching dollars-and it took everything-but “a friend loves at all times” and that’s the difference.

It is good to write that we are all as close now as we have ever been-maybe more so.  Truly, birds of a feather do stick together.  We are older now.  Our children are mostly grown. We have buried loved ones together-parents, a brother and two husbands.  Three of us live alone.    It is a grand time to have good friends.

There are all sorts of personalities among us-and we make allowances for that.  We are artists, teachers and candlestick makers!  We are sometimes practical and sensible-sometimes not.  We seem to take turns being hopeful and confident-when we are not, we unite like warriors.  One may scatter and one likes order-it is of no consequence in the grand scheme of things.  As glad as I am for all of that, I believe what I value most is the authenticity that was born and cultivated over the years.  Honesty is only possible when fear is not.

I spend a good deal of time pondering my future these days. It is a serious task and exhausting to consider.  I am as unsure as it is humanly possible to be. Plans have never done me much good thus far, but goodness, people my age mostly have them!  I will need to consider a smaller rabbit patch and where is it?  What am I going to do with this beautiful life in the up-coming seasons?  Some people consider it a wonderful art to live each day without considerations to the next-others think it irresponsible.  It is an odd predicament altogether-so at such times, friends are most handy. My own, lend me a sweet comfort – a treasure “that rust does not corrupt.”  When “birds of a feather flock together”, it is a lovely thing.  “Friends do love at all times” and it’s nothing short of  a miracle, if you ask me.

26fdb7be359fcec4bc9eef0d65746815

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reason for a Garden


12974438_247607095586800_3123889955113902749_n (1)

The diary of  any gardener will have many chapters over a lifetime.  They will span many topics and be full of accounts of good years and not so good years.  In many cases, it will be a love story.

Long ago when I was growing up in rural North Carolina, country folks had a garden.  It was considered of great necessity. Not to plant a garden was just lazy.  Some of my very earliest memories, are “in the garden”.  It was always on a sunny Saturday  morning, that I would wake up to the sound of Pop’s tractor.  It was always on a Saturday as the rest of the week, he was farming.  Soon I would smell dirt and I would go out to sit on the garden gate and watch his progress.

I did not like the planting that came next.  The children had to drop the seed with such care so  that it was a slow work.  A lot of fussing would arise if you dropped two seeds instead of one and always the dogs would get in the way.  The children got dirty and the adults got grumpy, but when all was said and done, we had a garden.

The Spring evenings that followed, were spent watching the adults tend the new plants with great concern.  Children and dogs were not allowed on the sacred soil.  That was just fine with me. I had broken young plants before and it seemed like we were all going to starve because of it.

The adults ridded the garden of weeds and grass too, another thing I was glad about.  Even now, I am prone to cut a pepper plant with a sharp hoe, if I am solving a mystery or planning something as I work-and it will make you grumpy.

As days passed, the garden got more child-friendly.  Something needed to be picked everyday.  I didn’t like that either.  The garden has a lot of “itch” in it-and frogs too.  If my older boy cousins found a frog, it was not my day.  I would scream and run without any thought to what I was tearing up or what I spilled out of those buckets-the adults would start hollering, and the dogs would come in to see what all of the commotion was about.  What an “ungodly ruckus” some one would say or “What ails you?” and not in a friendly way.  You can bet that in my own garden, I  still keep a sharp watch for frogs.

The wide row of strawberries that ran down the center of the garden was probably the best thing about the garden for me.  Grandmama would hang pie tins above the bed. They would shine and tinkle in the breeze. They were meant to scare the birds-I wished they had scared frogs.  

Mama, grandmama, my sister and I picked together.  Grandmama made strawberry short-cake with those berries and I was glad to help on account of that.  Don’t think for a minute that our strawberries were ever served on any store-bought cake. It was home made pound cake and we     would pour cream over it just before we ate it.  I haven’t done that in a long while, but I think I will this year. 

Grandmama passed suddenly one night at the age of fifty-two.  It remains one of the most heart-breaking things  I’ve endured in this life.  I can not imagine what it did to my mama. The garden seemed lonely and I thought I hated it.  I prayed for an early frost that would kill every hateful thing that grew in that garden. Mama did not.  She would get up early and have a lot done by the time my sister and I got up.   That must have been some lonely hours for Mama, I realise now.  Mama was a young mother at that time.  I am sure she felt wounded deeply- and maybe “stranded”.   I have never forgotten the hurt I felt , I can not imagine what  it was like for Mama .  In the afternoons, while we snapped beans, Mama did not  let on to her children any fears or agony she may have experienced.  Mama was kind like that.  I remember her suddenly getting quiet at times, though.  I knew she was missing her mama.

That summer and all those that came along, mama  still kept a garden. When I say I grew up in a garden, I mean it.  It seemed like the right place to ask mama about boys .  Sometimes we talked about the problem I was having with being twelve-sometimes we talked about God.

The best food I know of, comes from a garden. I declare it’s better for you and besides that it’s economical.  The work acts like a therapist and it provides physical benefits as well-but the best reason for a garden that I know of came about when I was growing up on a back country road listening to my grandmama and mama talking in a garden in hushed whispers sometimes- and later, my mama and I doing the same.

Dear sweet diary,  I think there is more than one reason, for a garden.