Today, outside the window, just floating in the air.
I saw a “flock of dainty wings” , and went to see them there.
I thought to write a poem about pink butterflies-
but when I went to take a look, I got a sweet surprise.
For it was a “flock of petals” flying in the breeze,
that surely came unfastened, from a grove of cherry trees!
The air got still and all the petals rained upon the grass.
Where they fell, I saw some violets, I may otherwise, have passed.
I will not rush in springtime, when the days are mild and fair-
For violets bloom in springtime, and “petals fill the air”.
It looks like somebody lives at the rabbit patch today. Kyle and I worked yesterday, the better part of the day, restoring order to the territory. The weather was mild and just did not give me any excuse, to put it off again. Now, that I am older, the lot is bigger. There are more sticks and branches, too. Nevertheless, the yard is almost tidy and I lived to tell about it.
I worked in the “Quiet Garden” and that is where I saw the wild violets. Violets are so dainty and do not cause a bit of harm. I have used them to decorate cakes and to toss in spring salads, but I love watching them grow too. I find them growing in their usual places. (There is a whole community of them, beneath the grape vine.) but they grow where they please and what a nice surprise to find them, where you didn’t expect. I felt a surge of energy after seeing them beneath the roses-and as I carried dead branches and vines to the garden for burning, the garden did not seem as far away as it did in the first hours.
The “Quiet Garden” is green. The rose bushes have really grown and some will give shade this year. No matter how tenderly, I care for them-no matter how sweetly, I speak to them-the rose bushes still “bite” me hatefully, as I trim and clean around them. Kyle was content to leave the rose garden to me.
The Japanese roses behind the barn are a mass of bright yellow. I bet you could see them a county away. The “cape jasmine” known also as gardenias, are awake-so are the foxgloves, and so are the weeds. I managed to get two flowerbeds cleaned up.
I also worked in the herb garden and was delighted to see young chives and all sorts of mints, were growing. Everything is better with fresh herbs, I think. By mid morning, the clothes line at the rabbit patch was adorned with blankets of every sort, in good faith, that we can afford to pack at least pack some of them away, til October.
A lot was accomplished, in a day at the rabbit patch-and so, maybe I can convince the neighbors and those driving by, that somebody does still live at the rabbit patch, after all.
By eight, this morning, the kitchen smelled like Sunday. Cabbage, chocked full of onions was simmering and eggs were boiling. Kyle did not find those smells appropriate just after waking, and grumbled right off-but come noon, when the table is set, he will not complain. Kyle and Christian are both here today, so with Mama and Daddy, the table will be full-and I won’t complain either.
About Thirty Years Ago
It was a typical March morning, almost cold, but bright. Daffodils bloomed on time, that year. I was a young mother of three children-the oldest one was four years old. Of course, I was in the kitchen, when a cousin and neighbor came in with bad news. My grandfather, Christopher S. Haddock, had been found in his yard, just outside his shop. He had passed in the new spring grass, while his beloved “goldenrods” (forsythia, really) were in their glory.
I knew him as “Pop”. Pop, was loud and known to cuss, even around the children. Brant, at four told me on one occasion, that he was going to get the “damn newspaper” as that was what Pop called it every time. I did not reprimand Brant, on account of that and thankfully he forgot it.
Pop had a fondness for spirited horses and apparently mean cows, as he always had both. Of course, he had a herd of ponies for the grandchildren and goats that could pull carts. He had pigs too, that he said would kill you if you fell in their parlor, so we kids avoided those at all cost. If you heard the tractor coming home at an odd time, it was best to “make yourself scarce” as something on it needed fixing and you could bet he was mad. That is mostly why he cussed, I think. Pop could get mad, but no other adult could -especially with the children. Pop would not tolerate a child being scolded, unless he was the one doing it. If you just stayed away from his tools, you were pretty safe, anyway.
Pop went to school til the sixth grade, yet he was known for his superior math skills. A farmer has to do a lot of math and Pop was quick with numbers.
I could write in this diary, all afternoon with stories about Pop-and probably would not give an adequate account of his life. He was not perfect, but he loved me perfectly. Today, that still means every thing. Here it is decades later, and I know his influence made a difference in my life. It reminds me how important grandparents are. Pop might have taught three generations to cuss, but he also told stories and taught us to plant by the phases of the moon.
Love is a mighty thing. Memories can fade and details can dim, but the feeling of being loved is very powerful and it endures for at least thirty years, I can declare, today. . .because. . . I remember Pop.
“The time of the singing of birds,has come.” It is officially spring. I do not consult a calendar to know when the seasons change. I watch the landscape and note the changes. I understand the science of how humans interpret the arrivals of seasons, but the cherry trees really have “the say”, I think-along with the songbirds. Blackbirds fly when they ought to and bluebirds set up housekeeping without needing consultation.
Frost covered the fields and pastures this morning, so my geraniums still sit in the windowsill, of the old house at the rabbit patch. My winter coat remains in a handy location and just might til mid April.
The purple Martins have yet to return. No other bird sings like the Martins. Martins winter in South America and there they learn to sing songs like the tropical birds, with all sorts of trills. Daddy has had Martin houses as long as I can remember. Right around his birthday (March 15th), we would look for the “scouts”. They are the early birds , and the “elders”. Martins often return to the same community for the breeding season. The elders have been there before, and so they survey the familiar sight to see if it is still suitable. I have read that they recognize the humans where they nest. I wonder how many generations have known my parents. Several times, daddy’s birthday has marked the first sightings of the birds that look purple in sunlight and sing in the ” language of flowers”. Many springs I have hung clothes on the line, while a purple martin sang.
I have really missed the children this week. My holiday was just long enough, for me to get used to all of us being together. I have tried to stay especially busy, because of that. There is no shortage of things to do, but no matter how much I try, I manage to pine for their company. Not even, the ice cream cake, left from the Christians’ birthday party has comforted me-and believe me I tried that on more than one occasion. This weekend, I plan to begin the spring clean up on the rabbit patch territory. Just the thought of it, makes me weary, but it is rewarding work and may put an end to my whining about the kids growing up . . .again. There are several sections of the picket fence in need of repair and all sorts of debris to be picked up. There is also the mowing. Work always helps me keep things in their proper perspective.
On the week ends, I pretend I am a writer. I do not imagine to be famous. I do not imagine, I have any great wisdom that the world is in need of, either. I just pretend to be a writer that earns enough to have bread and hyacinths. Imagination is a wonderful saving grace. We always tend to think it is best suited for childhood, but it is imagination that allows your heart to feel the plight of fellow humans. I think that compassion is a direct result of imagination. When I have found myself in a quandary, imagination allows me to see past it, and believe I will come through it-and that all will be well again. Lyla is just now starting to pretend. Her aunt “B” gave her a lovely little kitchen. Lyla cooks and serves us empty plates and empty cups . If we drop a dish she says “uh-oh!” and sets to cleaning it up. We take this “play” very seriously-she and I. I try never to disturb her when she is pretending- besides, sometimes, it is nice to have tea with a fairy, I think.
Dear rabbit patch diary, tonight, the house is chilly enough to warrant, I sit beneath a soft blanket. I will need the winter coat in the morning, again and- I will notice the poor condition of the yard on the way to the car, but I can also imagine that the wild violets will awaken soon, and the purple martins will come-and it won’t be too long before the geraniums will be blooming- on the rabbit patch porch .
One of my first post-and as you see, it is not in the best form-I loved writing this post. Happy Spring!
When the days are born gently, when the breezes pass softly, and when flowers appear on the earth-it is spring. Everywhere I look, something is announcing the arrival of the fairest season. Daffodils and hyacinths are the first with good tidings -but they aren’t the only ones. The spirea bushes with their stark white blossoms are especially beautiful. Their flowers, when properly examined, look like tiny roses, fit for a fairy wedding-and in the spring such things are possible. We always stood in front of spirea for “Easter Sunday” pictures.
Many of the trees are as lovely now as they have ever been. Their blooms of pale pinks and lavendars are in drastic contrast to their appearance just a few weeks ago and are nothing short of a miracle, really.
A few days ago, I was riding with a dear friend of mine, Jo Dee, when we saw a…
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I smelled rain, when I went out this morning. Showers came about an hour later and didn’t surprise me. The house was as silent as an empty church. What a contrast to the night before, I thought.
After coffee, I started peeling potatoes for hashbrowns. While I was peeling potatoes, I thought about the day before, when we were all together in the kitchen, each with our own tasks. I loved those moments. Conversation was constant as we all worked dicing and mixing. Sydney told us about her much adored grandmother-and her blackberry wine cake. It is Sydneys’ favorite so when Sydney grew up and moved away, visits back home meant the cake would be served, and an extra one was made for her to carry back, when she left. Sydney has her grandmothers’ recipes and so I asked for that recipe. The cake is wonderful, according to Sydney, but I would make it anyway, just to remember that afternoon in the kitchen.
How many things there are to think of when peeling potatoes! I have thought great thoughts, come up with solutions and made decisions, while peeling potatoes, over the years. I have peeled a lot of potatoes.
Silver drops fell steady when I was dicing the potatoes. The dogwood just outside the kitchen window is full of blossoms just waiting for a warm day full of sunshine, to convince them to open. A robin perched a while on the closest branch and peered at me curiously through the glass. Both of us, I thought are on a mission for our breakfast-” we have that in common”, I told him.
I liked this curious little bird-I like robins in general. They wear such pleasant expressions. A robin always looks cheerful. The lovely cardinal is stoic and seems serious. Cardinals are handsome birds and maybe they are aware of that. I have seen a cardinal in a pine waiting expectantly, I think, for an artist to show up to paint his portrait. Blackbirds and sparrows were flying around the yard, but only the robin said “good morning”.
By the time Lyla woke everyone in the house up, the kitchen smelled like coffee and biscuits rising.
The Rainy Afternoon
With yesterday being so busy, today seemed especially carefree. I had started a pot of soup as soon as the breakfast dishes were cleared. While it cooked, all things “St. Patrick” were taken down and stored for next year. Will and Brant watched ball games and the girls watched “The Secret Garden” in the nursery. Rain fell all afternoon and seemed to magnify the peace in the atmosphere of the house.
Sunday-The conclusion of the holiday
It was snowing, when I left Elizabeth City, early Sunday morning. This was the day we were celebrating my daddys’ eighty second birthday- and Christians’ twenty fourth. The snow became a cold rain just south of Elizabeth City. The wind howled, but thankfully, I had a safe trip. We had a wonderful Sunday dinner, with all of daddys’ favorites, which happen to be Christians’ too. Both love barbecue best of all. Chris and Ana brought an ample supply of that and so I had fixed brunswick stew and slaw as they are the natural companions of barbecue. Mama had cornbread . Delores had fried chicken and potato salad. There were several more sides and three cakes. It was a wonderful affair, altogether. We took pictures, as always of daddy and Christian preparing to blow out their birthday candles. Christian, now a young man that can grow a beard in a week, sat beside my dad, but I remembered when he sat on his grandaddys’ knee-and I thought again the sly way in which time passes.
The light from this day is now fading and tomorrow, all goes back as it was before. I have been on “holiday” since Wednesday night and I am so reluctant for it to end. .but, what a beautiful collection of moments transpired -and were gathered, just as easily as if they had been the first wild violets of spring.
I am in Elizabeth City on this fair morning- the day that belongs to anyone with even a bit of Irish blood in their veins has dawned with birds singing. I came on Wednesday night, Brant and Sydney arrived on Thursday. We have been cooking ever since.
Jenny has her house decorated with shamrock plants, displays of green glass and gold coins. Lyla has a beautiful little Irish Linen dress on this morning and an Irish fairy costume for later. We are after all, “a bit Irish.”
A few generations back, Henderson McDuffy Leary and his brother, Enoch settled not too far from Lake Phelps, where my sister, Connie lives today. We claim our heritage and are known to boast about it on occasion, though we laugh at jokes about the irish without malice. True to our nature, we do exhibit a “tribal mentality”. If someone crosses one of us, we are every one offended and quite likely to raise a ruckus. I, who do not kill bugs, will start the commotion. Thankfully, this does not happen often, but when it does, it leaves a memorable impression for years-long after, we have forgiven the offender. We do not quarrel amongst ourselves as it seems especially sinful, and besides that, I tell them with my hand over my heart, “I couldn’t bear for one of you to speak a word against one another.”- and I mean it.
We are every bit as sentimental as we are known to be. I cry at the drop of a hat, at things beautiful or the least bit sad. We are a soft hearted lot and because of that we are generous. We have great respect for all of the earth, and consider whatever patch we live on, about sacred. I hardly think such attributes are only found in the Irish, but I have noticed on more than one occasion, they are apt to be true-and I must say so, being it is St. Patricks’ Day, after all.
The cake is iced at last, and the final loaf of bread is almost done. It is past four and guests arrive at five. I have been in the kitchen, the better part of the day but I have stolen away to the porch several times and noticed the dog tooth violets blooming in the yards up and down the street. The laughing river just smiled today and was as blue as I have ever seen it. Finally, a day came about that was mild enough for one to sit in the open air and watch the sparrows carrying on with their great intentions.
We had just finished setting the table, when guests started arriving. Two families had babies and what a refreshing picture it made. They, like the young sparrows, so full of sweet intentions. Mandy, the darling of Pansy and Ivy came with a bouquet of Bells of Ireland and shamrock hydrangea. I had never seen this variety of hydrangea, but now I won’t soon forget it. Every petal boasted a perfect little shamrock that looked painted on.
Tonight, when I say good night to the world, I will “count my lucky stars” and be grateful to the Hand that placed them. I will be glad for sparrows and dog tooth violets-for kitchens to bake bread in and for little, Irish Linen dresses worn by a fairy, who is just a bit Irish.
Sunday at the Rabbit Patch
I have been watching the snow fall since rising. It is all but stopped now. The trees bear witness, for their branches look frosted. Pine trees are especially lovely when snow is clinging to their evergreen needles. The lawn holds no souvenir of the snow. I sat by the morning table with coffee and watched the event of light snow falling in a state of contentment. I watched the rose bushes in the “Quiet Garden” as the snow collected on their branches. They wear a late snowfall as beautifully as they wear their June blossoms.
Moon Shine, who has shown no interest in going outside, since his civilization, actually slipped out this morning. He did not tarry long. He was a comical sight, running in the door, with snow all over his tuxedo. Snow at anytime is scarce at the rabbit patch, and I suppose he was curious about it.
We are not having our “Sunday Dinner” today. Instead, I am cooking split peas, as I have found some one else in the world, that likes them. In the past, I have not been able to give them away. Split peas are just not a popular dish in this area, but I love them anyway. Tomorrow, when a cold rain is falling, Melissa , my young co-worker and I will have some for lunch.
I am also going to make Christian a strawberry cake today. Birthdays last a good while at the rabbit patch- and for whatever reason, any sort of stormy weather makes me want to cook, even more than usual. By the time the cake is done, there will be no evidence it ever snowed at the rabbit patch, this day. Still, I am grateful to have watched snow fall for a few hours. I count it as “time well spent.”
The tranquility of the morning affected the rabbit patch all day. Everybody, including myself napped in intervals. The old house was quiet as someone was always asleep. Moon Shine did manage to disturb the peace, several times. Every one of us quarreled with him, at some point.
I took great note, that hours pass sweetly, when they are not filled with details. Days, without agendas, are as necessary and vital to me as the restored running water at the rabbit patch.
I rose this morning while moon light gilded the rabbit patch with silver shine. It made the humble farmstead as enchanting as any castle in any fairy tale . Day light saving time, did not affect the beloved pets of the rabbit patch. They slept contentedly, as they are not concerned about the spring recital, nor the electricity bill. Christopher Robin looked at me with one winking eye and seemed to wonder what we were rushing about, at such an “ungodly hour.” Today, there was an agenda full of details. Today there was an almighty clock to be reckoned with.
By mid day, the predicted cold wind, started to pick up. I noticed the blossoms of the bradford pears , had been replaced with young leaves. They are a lovely light green color and when a large flock of robins decided to perch among them, it afforded a charming and cheerful sight-frame worthy, and I thought, I would call it “March Gladness”.
I had not been home an hour, when the turnips and potatoes were boiling and cabbage was steaming. I started a load of “whites” just as the rain began falling. This is the week day rhythm at the rabbit patch. Far be it from me, to sit down when I first arrive home. Supper may be scant or reduced to remnants that “need to be eaten”. Laundry may spend the night in the washer only to wake me at an odd hour, like a bad dream.
For those reasons, I adhere to a self-inflicted schedule. . .but ever so often, a day will come along , that does not require anything to be measured or sorted out-and you do not need to go anywhere, to be in the right place . Those days come along as seldom as a “blue moon”-and . . .they are every bit as beautiful, when they do.
I did not see the sun rise this morning. Most days, I do. It felt odd to wake to “a bright and shining moment” on the rabbit patch. The window by the morning table, was lit up like a chapel window and gently and joyfully, beckoned me to “rise and shine.”
We will celebrate My youngest son, Christians’ birthday today. His birthday was yesterday. My “baby” is twenty-four years old now. When, Christian was born, an ice storm promptly arrived. The day before, had been warm. Kyle and I took a long walk that day and then had milkshakes at an ice cream parlor. I don’t know why I remember that, but the memory is as clear, as any I have.
Yesterday would have been the best day to celebrate, as it was Christians’ actual birthday-and that was the plan- but yesterday the wind blew without mercy. Christian called me just before school was over. There was no water at the rabbit patch and the lights were dimming and then brightening in an odd fashion. I have only seen such conditions in horror movies and so I left for home, sure that a fire was smoldering in the walls -or that ghosts were real, after all. I came in the old house in a state of panic and rushed to check the breakers. I could not identify what was happening and called my neighbors, who were doing just fine and had constant lights and running water. This only alarmed me more and so I did what I have done all my life-I called my parents. They came and daddy declared it had to be an electrical issue. I called the power company, who promptly sent a truck. Within an hour, full power and water was restored. The wind had partially severed a line, it turned out. Mama and daddy would not leave til all was restored at the rabbit patch. Mama said they were there for “support.”-and they were. Just their presence made a difference.
That is how todays’ celebration came about. My fancy meal takes a few hours to prepare, and so today we will eat well. We will also wait for a cold storm predicted to have some form of moisture, to arrive. There go the daffodils! There goes the spirea and the peach and pear blossoms-and the jasmine that has bloomed just this week. Woe to the irises and the lovely running periwinkle-if all goes as predicted. This is the way of March, so I blame February for sashaying about as if it were April.
No matter, the weather conditions, as long as “another state of emergency” does not arise, today we will give thanks for the birth of my last child. Christian, being good natured, does not mind the delay in celebration. He has not asked for presents in many , many years. We all know he needs guitar strings, any way. Christian is an artist in every sense. He values art, whether it is drawn, written or listened to. He lives like a poet, noticing the beauty of all circumstances. You will not catch Christian being wasteful. He cares for the environment and for all living things too much, to cause any harm.
Christian, is the only person I know that is sure that he does not need money. He works and then is far more likely to give his money away than spend it. If a worthy cause, does not show up, he saves his money till it does. Frequently he comes to me with money and says “just take this, I have too much!!” I have laughed out loud at this, I have been concerned -and I still don’t know what to do with it. It amuses me, I find it admirable and yet, it concerns me. (I know as Will and Tres read this, their faces will pale.) Christian thinks long and hard before committing to obligations as he values the content of his life, intensely. Like me, a clock does not impress him, nor hold him hostage. He is way too independent to be trendy – and he thinks too deeply to be shallow about anything. His presence has made a beautiful difference in the last twenty four years of our family and not one of us would trade it , not for anything, this world affords.
Happy Birthday Christian! and – “to thine ownself, be true.”
I have felt glad all day today. Not a thing out of the ordinary, occurred. I did not win a sweepstakes nor unearth buried treasure. I did not solve any age old mystery, nor receive recognition for some great accomplishment, yet somehow these things pale in comparison to what did really happen.
The morning came and with it, a light cool rain. It fell gentle on the fields, as the Irish would say. By noon, the rain had stopped and the gray sky was a bright blue. The sunshine on things blooming, caused the light breeze to smell sweet.
Daffodils aren’t the only ones blooming . Snow seems to have blossomed on a variety of bushes and trees. Today, I saw a clump of Irises blooming in the shady corner of a lawn. My own are up on the rabbit patch, but they have yet to bloom-or make any promises.
Dandelion flowers are alive and well. Children have been bringing them to the music room, clasped in small hands as if they were rare gemstones-and to me they are. In the winter, children bring me small rocks , as gifts- so the lowly dandelion, soft and yellow, is beautiful in that way. It is easy to be thrilled when you receive a dandelion, or a rock, from a child. There is an expression, on a childs’ face, at such moments that acts like a tonic, and so I think, I ought to give dandelions too. The heart of a child, is a place of purity.
I met a gentleman, who tunes pianos, recently. He was a kind and interesting human and we shared a pleasant conversation. When asked how his skill came about, he said he learned it by watching another fellow and then studying manuals. He wanted to learn, so he could have a service for churches and charities. He was quite humble, as he spoke, but has been tuning pianos for decades in all sorts of churches. Some people are wonderful like that.
When I came home to the rabbit patch, Christopher Robin started purring and Moon Shine made sounds like a young dove. Cash pranced around, in the familiar way, boxers are known for. I walked under the still bare, mighty oaks. It was hard to imagine, that a common acorn, became the majestic oak.
While I was cooking dinner, it occurred to me that even dandelions and acorns can become objects of beauty, and stir the heart. I thought how the story of an humble servant could conjure up thoughts of greatness and inspiration. Truth is not always shrouded in an obscure mystery and not all lessons have to be learned the hard way. . . .and I was glad for that.
When March comes to the rabbit patch, and wakes up all the earth,
somehow it makes the homestead seem to have a bit more worth.
For hyacinths and daffodils bloom across the land,
and the peach and pear have blossoms, when touched by Heavens’ Hand.
The woodlands, on the west side, where wild rabbits like to run,
become somewhat enchanted, when lit by Marchs’ sun.
The songbirds sing a prelude, and fill the air with mirth,
When March comes to the rabbit patch, and wakes up all the earth.