In Late November


I found the rabbit patch in early spring, just over a decade ago, though I often think now the rabbit patch found me.  I remember the wild irises were blooming in the woods, though I had to stand on a felled tree from a long while back, to see them. I love old trees, and there were the oaks, calling out to me, it seemed.  There were several old pecan trees and all sorts of fruit trees.  The sycamores were just starting to shade the back door with their new leaves.  I knew I could love this place and the Farm Life community has always had  a sterling reputation.  I loved the massive yard, with its; grass starting to green-I still do.

I never thought about mowing-and I never once imagined late November, with its’ bushels of leaves.  The house stayed cool til July-winter seemed so far away, then- and I am not in the habit of “borrowing trouble from tomorrow”.

In late November, I remember how my affair with the rabbit patch unfolded.  The honeymoon was over in late autumn-but not the love.  The trees are mostly bare now and the mower with the mulcher,  did not survive my last mowing.  The yard looks as wild as “Moon Shine” the new feral kitten, did when I first met him-like something man has not yet touched. For now, I am armed with a rake and some boxes.  At this rate, it will be well into December before the rabbit patch looks “tended” .  Many “a autumn fire will burn” between now and then.

Jenny and Lyla are here for a few days.  We visited with mama and daddy a little while today.   The night was warm so Lyla and I went out.  We could only see Venus, but that was enough for us.  I thought of Wordsworth and his poetic line, “Fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky.”  

On the drive home, I saw a few trees still clad in bright leaves.  The yellows and corals made you think the tree was in bloom-and with Venus shining bright and bold-well it was lovely. Everyone was starving when I got home.  I had planned on this and had a roast cooking slow that just needed gravy.  I went to work in the kitchen and fed the animals as all were sure they would have perished, had I been a minute later.  While, the potatoes and peas simmered,  I went back out and commenced to burning leaves and thought  ” late November is a nice time.”

Pride and Joy


Officially, Thanksgiving, has passed.  Already , Christmas trees are up and twinkling in windows in many homes and reindeer graze in yards-with a little imagination.  I love Christmas!-but I am not yet over Thanksgiving.  The “dust has not settled” for me and so the pumpkins will grace the yard and the leaves will tattle that the mulcher is on the blink, a while longer.

This morning, Kyle brought breakfast and mama added all sorts of side dishes, for a late breakfast.  Tres, Kyle and Christian split wood afterwards and Daddy supervised.  Mama, Kelsey and I were snug inside and were thankful for it.

A cousin came in-a very distant cousin, if you go by blood only-but his family and mine grew up like brothers and sisters.  The mailman had delivered mama’s magazine to his house and he was returning it.  I introduced him to Kelsey and he explained that we were cousins because mamas’ great grandmother- and his, were sisters.  The beauty of that sunk in-  how the many generations  had remained a unit.  I thought about the sisters tending their children and wondered if they would have believed that more than one hundred years and six generations, later their descendants would still share life together. “Blessed be the tie that binds!”

Kelsey told a story, after he left, that moved me and I hope  to never forget.  It seems that she and Tres, on the way to her birthday celebration, came across an accident, that had just happened.  There was a cloud,  that prevented them from seeing the bus at first.  Tres got out and ran to the scene.  It was tragic.  He went to work pulling a team of young boys to safety and told Kelsey not to get out of the car.  I will not record the sorrows he bore witness to.  It pains me greatly,  for everyone involved.  

 We do the best we can by our children.  They grow up and we pray for their journey.  It is not our own, and it takes a considerable amount of fortitude to accomplish that realisation.   Sometimes, they become devoted mothers and sometimes they write songs.  They may buy shoes for poor children or buy food for hungry animals.  They run trucks in ditches and every one of them have been responsible for some amount of worry -but they are our most beloved  . . . and which ever the present case may be, they are our “pride and joy” .  

Thanksgiving Day at the Rabbit Patch


Early Morning

Not yet, has the sun risen at the rabbit patch, but I have been up a while.  Moon Shine sent something crashing and shattering- and that worked better than any alarm clock.  After surveying the damage, I went out to a mild morning with a pink, cloud covered sky.  I smelled rain and so will check the forecast shortly.  The turkey is on and I will make biscuits next. Coffee greatly improves my chances of figuring out what to do about sugar. I ran out making pies, last night.

 I am watching “Mr. Blandings Builds  His Dream House” in intervals, while the biscuits are cooking.   I love old movies best.   I found some brown sugar and that will do for any other concoction that requires sugar- with the exception of ice tea.

I was right about rain.  I never did check the forecast.  I knew an hour ago by the sky, it was going to rain some where.  It is a light rain and it sounds so very peaceful-and daddy says the weatherman “didn’t call for rain no how”.  Kyle, went to the grocery store for sugar.  His face looked the same as it did the night of the fire, when I asked him to go.


Mr. Blandings got his dream house built and the biscuits turned out perfect.  Kyle survived the grocery store and brought home the sugar.  The stove is full of pots-pots of beans, potatoes -and yellow squash.  The cranberry jelly is chilling and I have whipped cream with maple and cinnamon, for the pumpkin pie.  The rain has been falling the whole time.  It is a good thing that so many tasks are done as I can not rush when the rain falls softly.


Mama & Daddy , Kyle, Christian and I shared a nice meal just after noon.  My friend, Jo Dee had talked about a chocolate chess pie, enough to make me want one, so I fixed one.  Mama and I declared it the favorite.

Everyone has gone somewhere else now, so the kitchen is quiet.  The kitchen is tidy and candles are lit.  Tres will make it home before dark, so the porch light is on and the welcome lantern at the back door has a candle in it.  I love waiting for my children to come home.


Fog rolled in across the fields as the sun was setting.  This is the second time I have seen this, in my life.  It came in like a wave.  The sun was the color of a tangerine and paired with the silver fog, it was spectacular.  

Not long after, all was safely gathered in at the rabbit patch.  I snuffed out the welcome lantern at the backdoor.  The boys watched football – and Kelsey and I ate pie, while we watched “Anne of Green Gables”.  Truly,  Thanksgiving is a lovely time.




Thanksgiving Eve at the Rabbit Patch


It is the eve of Thanksgiving.  I look forward to this day about as much as the holiday, itself.  Today is the day to bake pies and wash linens for overnight guests.  The grocery stores are buzzing and many folks are packing their bags. Fancy dishes are being brought out from cupboards to be washed and   porch lights will be left on, later than usual, to welcome loved ones home.

I am making pumpkin, chocolate and  banana cream pies, today.  I am not sure why, but it just seems like pie is the traditional dessert for Thanksgiving.   When my sister and I were little and took to arguing, our grandmama would say “you two would argue in a pie factory!”  meaning we would rather fuss than eat pie!  I can still hear her saying that, she said it so often.

I am tidying up the old farmhouse and hoping the turkey thaws.  I am making another large batch of biscuits for the “dressing”-and will light the kitchen fireplace to add to the holiday atmosphere.  I have been saving some pricey candles for the holidays and they will be lit shortly.

The weather is perfect- a cold night and a bright day ahead.  Most often the trees are bare for the holiday, but this year a few colorful leaves remain boasting their tribute to autumn.  I will gather a branch or two for the table. There will be wood smoke in the air from the hearth  of the rabbit patch  and frost will cover the pumpkins in the morning light.

I am hoping to be up when the frost is on the pumpkins.  I put the turkey on and drink coffee while the house starts to smell like Thanksgiving morning.  Breakfast will be especially light, so to improve the appetite for the traditional feast.

There is just something about Thanksgiving that stirs me deeply.  I think about the first Thanksgiving, when the Native Americans gathered with those from across the ocean, who had come to make new lives.  I think of the women from both sides, preparing different foods in different ways.  Surely language itself, presented an obstacle.  There is no telling how many practices of religion were present that day, yet in spite of all the differences, they united for a meal and gave thanks  together.  I suppose the children played together, as children still do today without barriers.  I hope tomorrow, hearts across the nation, will unite for the sake of  showing gratitude.  The older I get, the more I think about such things.

There are a lot of ways to live a life, but it seems to me, that practicing gratitude might be one of the best habits we can assume.   Such a habit acts as tonic, I think-  and it goes so well with pie. 

Where There is Smoke


The “old people” used to say “where there is smoke, there is fire.”  They said this often, when something seemed obvious, hoping we kids would learn the art of deducting facts and making conclusions.  This old saying can be taken literally, as well-and I can prove it.

Yesterday, I came home and went right to work at the rabbit patch.  I put a chicken on to roast, with turnips heaped around it and started some peas on the stove.  I started some laundry and decided to clean the car out while the appliances were put to good use.  The cold wind on Sunday, had all but eliminated the leaves in the big yard.  Somehow a few mounds lay here and there as if intentional.  I decided to burn a bit of them in the garden, while I was dusting the car out.

The sun was already casting slanted rays and just before slipping below the trees at the back of the field.  There wasn’t a bit of wind and I looked up to take note of the peace that evening affords.  I thought the light seemed odd.  It seemed to flicker. . . and then I smelled smoke.  Behind a small barn, where the garden used to grow, light was jumping about.  I dashed around the barn as best I could to find the garden on fire.  There was spitting and hissing-and Cash took to racing around and around, almost knocking Christopher Robin sideways.  Christopher Robin took refuge on the garden bench and watched the whole affair with a very judgmental air about him.  Moon Shine fled like the devil himself was after him.  I thought to wet the perimeter of the garden, but the water hose was hiding in the shadows between two other barns.  Kyle drove up just about this time.  He rushed to the crime scene, stricken with panic and yelled out about how foolish I was to undertake the task of burning the garden alone.  Christopher Robin seemed to take his side, perching all high and mighty on the garden bench, waiting for my explanation.

Kyle is a handy person and he was as good as anybody to show up.  He took over, and when I remembered supper and ran to the house yelling “chicken!”,  he was not phased.  Supper was saved and as it turns out creamed turnips are as good as I had heard they were.



Thanksgiving on A Sunday


In the Morning

Holiday mornings are the most beautiful kind of mornings, to me.  On the rabbit patch calendar, this Sunday morning, is a holiday.  Today, my family will celebrate Thanksgiving.  

It is my habit, to rise early and this is especially so on a holiday.  There is always a lot to do and I do not like to rush.  The collards have been cooking a while and I just put a large pot of corn on the stove.  There are still the biscuits.  I will need a large pan of those, but I take a good many coffee breaks, anyway.

The morning is bright and beautiful, and I like that.  I prefer cold weather on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Last year, it was so warm that while the turkey was cooking, I could have cured tobacco, right there in the kitchen.  

Around the Table

It wasn’t long after noon, that mamas’ dining room table was full.  Grandchildren sat at a table set up in the living room, as they always do.  I thought the food was especially good this year.  Everyone was doing well and it made me glad to know that. 

After the meal, Daddy watched a NASCAR race, My brother-in-law, Roy took to fixing all of the electronics in the house and the women talked about Christmas.  The grandsons brought mamas’ decorations in, so she will have them ready when “the spirit moves her”.  Mama takes great pains with her decorating and it shows up every year.  A garland with twinkling lights on a picket fence is as pretty a picture, as I know of.

Back at the Rabbit Patch

When the light was fading, I made my way home.  I was anxious as this was the first time, that Moon Shine had been left unattended in the farmhouse.  Cash, my boxer tattles on the young kitten, when I am home.  He is quite an alert guardian and is constantly checking on the where-abouts of the kitten.  Christopher Robin, just watches like a judge and jury, in a superior fashion.  I considered leaving Moon Shine to his own devices in the barn, but the the wind was cold and constant-and he is “the baby” in the family, after all.

The farmhouse was still in-tact, upon inspection and so they all ate a good supper, with extra gravy, because of it.  Moon Shine, is a naughty rascal, any way, though I can’t prove it today.

Now, I make it a habit, to be grateful,  but I must admit, that the Thanksgiving season tenders my heart  and humbles me like no other time and- Thanksgiving may be  the interlude, that we can all use just now.  In some way, gratitude forces us to acknowledge that we are loved . Surely, there is hope in that.  



Rubies, Diamonds and a Cat Named Moon Shine


Autumn has made its’ presence known at the rabbit patch-and it came bearing gifts.  The whole affair seems “royal” in nature-complete with a treasure chest of precious gems in every hue.  No one is excluded from the occasion of autumn.

Morning sunlight comes brightly and lights up the frost covered territory around the rabbit patch. Frost looks like diamond dust and is strewn liberally, for the Hand that casts it, is not limited in Its’ source.  This is quite obvious to me as I leave the rabbit patch and drive past fields and pastures decorated with shine.

The dogwood is wearing rubies, these days.  Every one of them are a solid mass of red and do great justice to the landscape.  I saw a little sparrow perched amongst a dogwoods’ rubies this week and he looked as  worthy of a post card as any of his finer -feathered friends.

Winter wheat is up.  It is my favorite crop from start to finish, to watch growing.  In any stage, winter wheat is lovely.  Now , it has transformed a barren field to an emerald sea.  It is the greenest thing in the country and is a sight to behold on fair days and rainy ones too. 

The clarity of autumn light seems to turn every thing in to some sort of wonder. The persimmon trees are a warm golden and the grapevines are bright yellow.  Plum trees look like living amethysts .   The most common woodland vines become scarlet garlands around the trees and the ground beneath is laced with amber. Above it all, is an expanse of sapphire which far exceeds those hidden gems mined by man. At night, the sapphire becomes ebony with a splattering of diamonds.  All of mankind can feel wealthy in the Autumn.

Tomorrow, Sunday dinner will be at my parents’ home and will be a thanksgiving meal. My sisters and their families will attend and so I am cooking while I clean the old farmhouse.  The wages of week-ends in Elizabeth City , however costly, do not make me sorry.  I have the windows up as it is warm today.  On Thursday, those that can, will gather again, at the rabbit patch.  Thanksgiving is a favorite time for me and so no amount of work, ever seems a burden.

The cat named ” Moon Shine” can almost be considered tame, now.  He does not hiss and spit at my boxer, Cash, with the same gumption as before.  Instead, Moon Shine is  learning the manners of a house cat from Christopher Robin, willingly.  

The much acclaimed November moon is retreating now.  There is less silver in the night sky over the rabbit patch.  There was much ado, over this moon and people went to great lengths  to record images of it.  The sweetest story that I heard told was shared by some dear friends of mine, who have been married since their youth, decades ago.  They stood in the moon light declaring the steadfastness of their union and sealed it with a kiss. . . I got a wild kitten. 

The Evidence of Things Not Seen


For a good while, I had been looking forward to seeing  the famous November moon over the rabbit patch.  Last night, I planned a very simple supper, all because of the grand event.  I started watching the sky, determined to see the moon rise over the field.  I was going to stand in the shine and lift my prayers.  I had some wishes and dreams to tell the world, too.  What I got was one more lesson on faith.

At first, I thought the moon was just running late. The field behind the old barn was dark-and so was the sky.  Clouds had settled in and showed no sign of hurry.  They brought with them, a hush, much like the snow does.  I heard a single leaf fall now and then.  I kept looking where the moon ought to be.  Surely, the brightest moon in the last thirty years could shine through the dense clouds covering the big dipper-and the dog stars too.  I couldn’t see Venus either.  The sky did have an odd, faint brightness about it.  I could not see the moon, but I knew it was there.  I saw evidence of its’ presence .  Somehow, that was enough.

Tonight, the moon rose over the rabbit patch.  The big dipper  and the dog stars did too.  Venus made a pine look like a Christmas tree.  The field, when bathed in moon light looked almost holy-and to me it was.  It was  all the evidence of Things not seen, that I need.

I made my way back to the farm house in the company of the wild kitten-who  at last, has a name.  Wouldn’t you know- I named him ” Moon Shine”.

Autumn Wind


We all woke up early this morning.  Outside the window, I could see the day was bright and clear.  The dogwood looked especially dashing wearing all shades of red against the blue expanse of sky.  I could see there was an autumn wind blowing-the trees were tattling loud and clear about that.

Winds, change with the seasons.  The content  of the wind in April is unlike the November wind this morning.  The autumn wind casts leaves in a chaotic fashion.  The smell of the leaves already scattered tends to give the air a distinct scent.   I remember smelling leaves in my childrens’ hair when they had played outside. There is also, a chill in the wind this season that demands a sweater or jacket, depending on where you live. Lyla and I will wear jackets today, while we are out, in the autumn wind.

 This is the best day so far for cooking soup-and so I will.  Though I am not sure that Will is going to touch it, I am making pumpkin soup for lunch.  Tonight, friends are coming for supper and I always look forward to cooking for a crowd.  I will get started on things as soon as Lyla and I come back from strolling the now familiar route by the river.

 Yesterday,  we made several new feline friends and saw an old canine friend, too.  Lyla waves at  all of them, and says in her baby voice. “hi”.  I think this is a good sign that she is learning already to respect the animal kingdom, and it cheers me to consider that.  She also loves flowers and if we pass one, she wants to stop and smell it.  She has yet, to pick one or disturb it in anyway.  She has never seen such a thing and so is content to admire respectfully.  I think it may work out that way in all areas of life.

The Afternoon

When the pies were made and beans were cooking, Lyla and I went out for a while.  The air was still chilly, but the wind had become a mere autumn breeze.  Someone somewhere was burning wood, which I guessed to be oak.  There were very few people or animals out.  We saw some mockingbirds squabbling and I wondered if the sudden chill had upset the birds in general.  The uneventful stroll was beautiful, none the less.  We got back, just about the time you needed to turn a light on.  The kitchen smelled wonderful and I thought how much I love walking into a kitchen when something was cooking.

I can “fancy” life up as much as I  please, but the truth is, my needs are  not nearly as complex as I tend to make them out to be.  Today was a day to make pies and take a short walk with an autumn breeze blowing-and it was as good a day as any.   


When Snow Blossoms


Snow has blossomed all around.  The cotton fields are white.  With a little imagination, a cotton field, this time of year, looks like the remnants of a snowfall.  Cotton is a pretty crop that blooms in shades of pink and purple in the summer.  The cotton itself is pretty and folks often use it in arrangements.  Picking cotton is an awful job.  The soft cotton is encased in a tough, sharp casing, that pricks the picker without mercy.  My grandmother said her hands would be so sore for days, after picking.  Of course now the process of picking cotton is a mechanical one and usually harmless.

Since there was no school today, I left for Elizabeth city early, just after the first light had brightened the rabbit patch.  The trees are especially pretty, now.  I saw the plum colored cherry and the apricot crepe myrtle while driving.  The woods seemed gilded in shades of gold as the sun cast its’ morning light.  Autumn is a lovely time, I thought.

There was very little traffic so I could take note of the natural beauty occurring now-and I did not come up short.  Twice, I saw blackbirds flying.  This is a particularly beloved sight for me.

 A long time ago,  calamity descended on me and affected me as nothing ever had.  I was sure I would never get clear of it.  In despair,  one morning I cried out to the heavens and presented my case.  I was sure that I could certainly never take pleasure in life again and so was destined for  a life of gloom.  Surely, with this hanging over me,  I could not serve any purpose in life.  At that moment, I heard far off , the song of blackbirds.  They flew right over me for a good while.  They seemed to stretch from one horizon to the other.  I was surprised that even briefly, I had ceased my lamenting.  Somehow I felt great comfort that something remained unchanged in the midst of my chaos and  I took heart that other moments were bound to appear as if to cheer me on.  As it turned out I was right- and so I remember that morning, whenever I see blackbirds flying.

Lyla and I took a walk, not long after breakfast.  The air was brisk and colorful leaves discarded from ancient trees littered the sidewalk.  We heard a ruckus and saw it was a bluejay arguing with a dove about something.  Bluejays are known to be quarrelsome and apt to steal from unguarded nests, so they aren’t popular with all folks-but you know I love them any way.  I have seen a blue jay send out a warning to the the bird community when he spots a snake or a hawk.  At those times, birds of all feathers  will flock together, but it is the bluejay that leads the battle.

The neighborhood was  quiet this morning.  We watched some ducks gliding in the laughing river .  The sky was cloudless and there wasn’t even a slight breeze.  I expect we will walk again before supper.  It is just too nice out, in autumn and it seems almost sinful, not to notice.

Shine on the Rabbit Patch


“Jack Frost” came last night with a bucket of shine.  When the first rays of sunlight fell this morning, the  fields sparkled and the woodlands seemed  to be strewn with diamonds, instead of pine cones.  

I remember as a child, daddy saying “Rise and Shine! Jack Frost came last night!”  I would look out the window quickly, hoping to catch a glimpse of  the sprite-like creature and his shimmering bucket.  I never did see him, but I saw his magic.  Not an autumn passes, that I do not think of “Jack Frost” and hear my daddy’s voice announcing the occasion of the first frost.

Frost is a significant event for country dwellers.  It puts an end to chores like mowing pastures and ditch banks, for the better part of the day.  Gardeners who plant cabbages and collards are glad of frost as it sweetens the greens served for Sunday dinners.  No longer will pests plague the autumn garden, either.  

The roses in the “Quiet Garden” at the rabbit patch, will take a well-deserved rest.  I will resort to branches of brightly colored leaves for  center pieces and chrysanthemums from the porch.  

I may have better luck with  attracting the country birds to the feeders this year as the hurricane scattered the french mulberries like dust, in early October.  The rabbit community burrows in the young woods and must resort to bark or the leaves of the common privet bushes, after the frost.  Of course,  I think of them too and toss apples and greens along the wooded path.

In November, gray skies often cover the rabbit patch-when they do, autumn leaves seem to glow brightly.  I have noticed this for a long while now, but can not figure out the science behind it.  In the farmhouse, I am apt to cook root vegetables, in November, likewise any of the dried bean varieties.  The boys love my corn chowder, too.  I bake bread once there is a chill in the air, and Kyle is especially glad of that.

Books and quilts are found in every room, these days.  I will attempt simple crochet again and I will sketch flowers and rabbits.  I will wait for the golden moon, that is much talked about and I will wish on it for good measure.

The wild kitten is sleeping inside the farmhouse the last few nights.   Maybe he saw “Jack Frost” coming and gave up the notion of being feral.  He has been quite ill-mannered with Cash, but Cash being a good-natured boxer, does not take offense to his poor behavior.  I have high hopes that this kitten will give me his name soon.

When Light Fell on the Rabbit Patch


When light fell on the rabbit patch this morning, it was bright and beautiful.  The air is colder than it has been- and it ought to be in November.  Contrary to my belief, the cold bright air did not shatter when I opened the back door to call the wild kitten for breakfast.

 “Jack Frost” has still not made his presence known and so the sweetgum trees still have some green left.  This lowly tree is hardly ever found in a yard, purposefully.  The sweetgum drops its’ seeds in little round carriers that are unsightly and hurt when you step on them.  If you burn sweetgum wood, it snaps and crackles like no other.  The sweetgum survives in the woodlands, where man doesn’t care if they grow or not.  In the fall, after the frost, the sweetgum “puts on airs” and turns every  shade of every color known to autumn.  They rival the prideful maple in the country landscape.  If you see a patch of woods that are breathtaking with color-thank the sweetgum.

Today, the “government changes the time back” as my grandmother used to say.  I suppose that many dread the early twilight.  For me, it means soft lights will be turned on earlier in the old farmhouse and supper will be eaten at a more reasonable hour.  I will say “good night” to the rabbit patch earlier and the stars will bear witness as usual, so I will not need to complain about that.  It is just a little longer than a fortnight that we must endure, after all.  Even “the government” can’t change that.

 There is no “Sunday Dinner” at the rabbit patch today.  Mama and daddy couldn’t come and that just changed every thing.  Christian has been providing music for Churches recently too and doesn’t get home til mid afternoon- and so, I have decided to at least make a cake.  I plan to put cinnamon in it like it’s free.

 It is the eve of the holiday season, now.  It is the time just before families gather and twinkling lights are seen on city streets and across fields, too.  November softens hearts and can dissolve  bitterness if we but allow it.  Gratitude is a mighty force.

 Every day for a while,  in the still and chilly  November evening, I will burn leaves where the summer garden used to grow.    I am apt to light candles and wrap in a quilt made long ago, afterwards.  Cash and Christopher Robin will sleep unencumbered with human notions-and maybe some time in November. . . . the wild kitten will, too .