When the Woods are Golden


Dear Diary,  Tuesday was lovely.

Not every day is  full of lovely things-but today was.  It is true this year, at least, that “March does go out like a lamb”.  On days like this one, it ought to be a sin to be inside.  I took full advantage of every chance I got, to stand in the sunlight.  It is on account of that I saw the blossoms in the wind and the violets growing beneath them.

Driving home from work, I noticed my beloved winter wheat fields in all their glory.  I do not think anyone could argue, if they were in the midst of winter wheat in March.  

Not long after I arrived at the rabbit patch, it started to sprinkle little silver drops.  I decided to make soup, as I am only prone to make soup in frightful weather.  The occasion of a cool rain warranted  soup and I so I put together a hearty tomato soup with  plenty of basil.  I baked a loaf of bread and while the soup simmered and the bread was rising,  I  called my friend, Jo Dee.  We were having a pleasant conversation and the rain became heavy.  The sun was shining faintly throughout the thundering.  Though Jo Dee doesn’t live so far from the rabbit patch, there wasn’t a cloud in sight at her house.  The rain was quick to pass and that is when I saw the rainbow.  Jo Dee was in mid sentence about something when I abruptly ended the call, for, I told her, “the most beautiful rainbow, I have ever seen!”  I called Kyle and Christian.  They came running, expecting to fight fire, so they were relieved it was all because of the rainbow.  They hushed any complaints, when they saw it.  The sky was dark blue and maybe that is why the rainbow was so vibrant.  The colors were distinct and bright.  No other rainbow, I had seen before, compared to this one. 

It did not phase Jo Dee, that I hung up on her.  She is used to my behavior when I see something beautiful.  She herself, has been known to brake, while driving, at the sight of a cardinal in a pear tree.

Dear Diary, I love everything!

In contrast to yesterday, today was overcast.  As I feared, the dogwoods are blooming and with Easter weeks away!  The fairy roses of the spireas  have come and gone, so now it is up to the azaleas for Easter Sunday to look at all familiar.  I noticed that the jasmine is blooming.  Woodland trees wear crowns or garlands of the bright sweet smelling flowers.  The jasmine flowers seemed to light up the woods on this “silver” day.   No matter which tree the vines clamber upon-oaks, pine or the lowly sweetgum, the tendrils with golden blossoms  show no favoritism. My friend, Julie loves the smell of Jasmine, and I always think of her when the jasmine blooms.

I love every season.  With the arrival of each season, I declare it my favorite.  I do not intend to be fickle, but I am enamored by all sorts of occurrences throughout the year.  I love snow and I love tulips.  I love summer mornings.  I love roses and autumn leaves.  I really love Thanksgiving,  and I really  love Christmas – and now, today,  when the woods are golden, I remember . . .  Dear Diary, I love Jasmine, too.

When Petals Fill the Air


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”.

Dear Diary, I Remember Pop


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.

Sunday Dinner

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.  

Dear Rabbit Patch Diary


“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 .

When Flowers Appear on the Earth

One of my first post-and as you see, it is not in the best form-I loved writing this post. Happy Spring!


10405628_230464637301046_2460218135546075693_n 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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Diary of a Holiday


Saturday Morning

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.




Shamrocks and Sparrows


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.