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.”
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” .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.