“On Our Merry Way”

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Not long, after waking, I go out to say good morning to the world.  Yesterday morning, I had company.  The backdoor, at Will and Jennys’ home has a small porch.  What a pleasant surprise to find the bunny that lives under the garden shed, stretched out, like “he owned the joint”, on the porch!  As soon as he saw me, he sat up like a statue.  I was very quiet and eased back in the door, so as not to frighten him, further.  I smiled at the thought of him, traveling up the seven steps to the door outside of the kitchen.

The morning was “picture perfect”.  The sky was bright, and the grass was greener, on both sides of the fence.  There was a cool breeze, that reminded me of early May. I was anxious for Lyla to wake, so we could be on “our merry way” along the streets of the riverside village.

One of my first missions, was to visit Miss Thelma, with Lyla.  I did not take a basket of strawberries this time.   Instead, I concocted a large pitcher of “orange ade”.  Lyla does not care for orange ade, and so I thought we could make ammends quite easily.  I also, did not allow Lyla, to think for a moment, that the orange ade belonged to her.  Lyla was there to observe the transaction.  I am happy to say, things went along nicely and I left without the need to apologize.

Lyla is saying all sorts of things these days.  She will attempt anything she hears.  A few weeks ago, Lyla said “I love you” to her Papi.  Since then, we have all been hoping we were next.  I have begged and pleaded, several times daily.  I am in the habit anyway of saying “I love you to her” dozens of times a day.  She smiles sweetly and will often wrap her little arms around me, at such times, and I know that means, “I love you, too.”  On our stroll, a cat that looks like my “Moon Shine”  came out as usual, to greet us.  Lyla said “Hi” and waved as she always does.  When we said good bye, Lyla called out, “Bye . . I love you!”  I had to laugh aloud at that.  The cat was not fazed and waltzed back to the shade.

We came back at lunch.  Will comes home most everyday.  He declares this a “perk” of working close to home  . . . and it surely,is.  Will is a good father and a good son.   After lunch, I tried to convince Lyla that pulling the spent canes from the long row of lilies was fun.  She however, decided early on, that exploring the lane, alongside the house was a better use of her time.  Untethered from a stroller, or my hand, she wandered about, making my work slow.  I did not have the heart to stop her, as I wandered lanes half of my life, as a child . . and I have never been sorry for that.

After my task was completed and I had coaxed Lyla back inside the fenced back yard, we set off again-this time to rivers’ edge.  There is a wonderful grassy area where one can sit as long as they please, in the presence of  the  Pasquotank river, that I call the laughing river.  I just could not pass up a cool day in June with a blue cloudless sky, overhead.  It seemed sinful, not to be outside.

It is a short walk to the “meadow ” by the river.  The river was as smooth as glass.  The laughing river only giggled on the occasion of a passing boat.  I, who price things like mustard and buy most clothes second hand, felt like a millionaire, at that moment by the river . . .because, in that moment I was.  I was as content as a person can be.  Lyla and I sat there in silence.  We often do that by the river.  Sometimes, after a while, we will look at one another and smile.  Words just do not seem necessary on the banks of a river.  Lyla got drowsy and so I started for home.  She was asleep when I reached the yard.  Jenny was on the porch and so we opted to let Lyla nap in the cool shade of a a grove of young trees.  A pair of cardinals were quite curious about this and lingered on the lowest branch peering at the sleeping child.  They cocked their heads from one side to the other  a few times-and then flew off without any further ado.

Jenny had put a roast in the slow cooker for supper.  I fixed potato salad, the only way that Will likes it-with bacon , garlic , cheese and sour cream, so it really is a far cry from “potato salad”. We had squash too . It was a nice hearty meal and a a good conclusion to a mostly uneventful day . . unless you remember that, a little wild rabbit slept on the back porch, and a little girl, slept in the shade  , in the company of cardinals.

Dear sweet rabbit patch diary,  I was glad for this day.  I am glad for the blue sky to walk beneath and the cool breeze that blew.  I am glad for little shady lanes and grassy meadows by  rivers.  I am glad Miss Thelma got her orange ade without having to battle . . .  and I am glad for Lyla, who loves cats.

Watching Clouds and Geese

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On Monday, the wicked heat lifted.  The sky became a bright blue after dawn.  The morning was bright and cool for June, in the south.  It was the kind of morning that made you want to forget housekeeping, altogether and abide outside instead.

We all rose early enough, to spend a few minutes on the front porch, before Will left for work.  The laughing river was blue as ever and sparkled in the morning light.  The sidewalk was busy with people walking dogs and plenty went by on bikes.  There was an older couple who walked holding hands.  All had a greeting or a kind word to share with us folks on the porch.

Lyla wakes up smiling and hugs us all”good morning”.  After breakfast, Lyla and and I went to the the little playground, just a short walk from Jennys’ house.  The park is set by the rivers’ edge.  Usually, there are geese grazing in the shade.  We were the only ones there yesterday.  Lyla took full advantage of that.  It was not for long, though, as the sun warmed the slide and everything else up quickly.  For a while, we watched the cars on the bridge.  We watched clouds, too.  One looked like an angry troll with horns, lying in wait for the only child on the playground, but right before our eyes, it then became a lamb with a sweet expression.  As I sat there watching clouds and geese, I thought, that life had some grand moments.  Lyla got hungry, otherwise,  we may have stayed all day.

After lunch, Jenny, Lyla and I ran a few errands.  It was Jennys, friend, Michelles’ birthday and so we bought the ingredients for a key lime cheesecake.  We bought strawberries for a neighbor.  When we got home, I washed the berries and Lyla ate quite a few.  I put some in a basket, for Miss Thelma and Jenny dressed Lyla up for the visit.  What a cute picture Lyla made with a basket of strawberries and a pony tail.  Miss Thelma is in her nineties and is ” as sweet as pie”.  Lyla was fine til, I asked her to present her gift to Miss Thelma.  Lyla, had apparently became quite attached to the basket and said “No!”  followed by “Mine!”  Oh goodness, how  I tried to convince her that sharing was good.  I even brought God in to it-however, Lyla was not feeling very Christian, at the moment.  Miss Thelma was gracious and kind.  When I finally pried the basket from Lylas’ hand, Miss Thelma made good time to dump the berries in a bowl in the kitchen.  She returned with a stuffed frog in the basket.  Lyla wailed at the sight of a frog in her basket, instead of the strawberries.  I could not get away fast enough.  To say, it was harrowing, is an understatement.  Lyla walked in the door at Jennys’ with a long unintelligible explanation, that I think may have been “Honeybee is hateful.”

Lyla soon recovered-and so did I.  Later we had a light supper.  Michelle and her family came over for dessert.  Michelle and Danny have two boys.  I watched them oh, so carefully catch lightening bugs and then quickly release them.

The night before, we had all taken a walk at dusk.  We saw a small colony of bats come out of a chimney.  Lyla and the boys were quite impressed at the sight-so was I.  It had been a long time since I had seen such an event.  The adults talked about all of the horrible and unjust myths about bats.  I agreed with every word. . .until one flew right at me.  Just before contact, he darted off, as if nothing had happened.  I was shattered and decided maybe bats will “make a nest in your hair”  after all.

The boys splashed in every puddle and walked along the shore of the river.  Lyla was content to watch-and so was I.  I picked her a mimosa blossom and we smelled the white crepe myrtles.  The blossoms of the white variety, smell like clean cotton.

Jenny said Lyla fell asleep, while she was putting her pajamas on her. Jenny and I stayed up and actually watched a movie.  We chose “Lion” , which is based on a true story.  

Dear Diary, Especially in summer, I am determined not to be rushed.  I do not want to miss clouds that turn into lambs.  Summer is a time to imagine what seems impossible-and I am glad for that.  Every firefly matters to me and so do the diamonds on the river.  I am glad for hours that meander without haste . . .and strawberries.


A Bright and Shining Moment

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I arrived in Elizabeth City, yesterday morning.  Elizabeth City is another rabbit patch and it is where my only grand child, Lyla, lives.  When Lyla was born, just over two years ago,  I quickly became familiar with the village by the laughing river.  I  have strolled it countless times-past rows of cottages, that seem planted, like cheerful  rows of tulips.  There are historical homes with old trees where moss hangs and sways in the breeze.  There are also rabbits everywhere and they are less skittish than the country rabbits, where I live.  Jenny feeds a young rabbit, now, that lives under her garden shed.

Not long, after my arrival, Lyla and I started on one of our familiar treks, the one by the laughing river.  It was hot, though there was a breeze blowing.  We met people along the way, and everyone had a greeting followed with a complaint about the heat.  We  saw several cats sleeping in the shade and they did not even rouse when we passed.  Lyla said “shhh”,  when she saw them.  A lot of doves were flying about and we watched one bathe in a birdbath, surrounded by lilies, in dappled shade.  Lyla was quite amused . . and so was I. 

We finished our morning walk by noon.  Lyla had lunch and then Jenny put her down for a nap.  I went to the grocery, just minutes from Jennys’ house.   I was so thankful that there wasn’t an old barn on Jennys’ property-or anything that needed painting.  It was very liberating, and so I decided we ought to have a special meal. We ended up having fried chicken, creamed turnips and potatoes, green beans and cucumber salad.  I added bacon to the salad so Will would try it . .and it worked. The little rabbit under the garden shed ate good that night too.

After Supper, I visited with Wills’ mom.  She is fun to cook  for as she praises my efforts , dependably.  She is always grateful, too.  I didn’t leave, til it was nearly dark. Lyla had been bathed and was in her night clothes, when I got back.


I did not rouse til eight o’clock on Saturday.  It seemed like all the work had caught up with me, and rendered me lazy.  Within an hour, we had breakfast.  Will, Lyla and I headed for the garden center, soon after, while Jenny completed an assignment.

Most of the day, was uneventful. There was no rush or hurry on this day in June.  In the evening, Will and Jenny went out to eat.  Lyla and I strolled and it started sprinkling.  We walked in the light rain and neither of us minded.  When we walk a long while, I will stop and ask her “are you having a good time?”  or sometimes, I just say “Isn’t this nice?”  Yesterday,  Lyla said “honey” clear as a bell, when I stopped.  She has been saying “Bee” a while.  Of course, I almost danced in the street, when I heard her (loosely) say “Honeybee”.  My dancing and clapping only encouraged her to say it over and over.  She laughed-and I laughed.  It was a bright and shining moment, I won’t soon forget.

Will and Jenny brought a slice of chocolate cheesecake home, for me.  It seemed reasonable to eat it, right then.  Lyla ran to find a spoon and so she and I shared it.  How fitting and proper it seemed to celebrate  the day-with cake.  

Dearest Rabbitpatch Diary,  I am glad to have walked in a June shower.  I am glad for  the shade of old trees . . .and I am glad for hours sweetly passed, with bright and shining moments .  



I am Glad for Summer

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It rained all day long at the rabbit patch yesterday.  The rain fell gently and steadily, like a  long, sweet song.  It has been a long time, since such a day has passed.  There wasn’t a bit of harm in the soft, gray clouds.  They were friendly and generous.  A light, cooling breeze blew all day and didn’t even disturb the loose tin on  the old barn.  

I was busy all day, in spite of the rain.  I painted four flowerpots and filled them with herbs.  This seemed to quiet the complaining thyme.  Next, I painted flowers on two buckets.  If a bucket can be considered “cute”,  mine is.  I repaired the old drawer, and frankly surprised myself with that feat.  I am awful with tools. of any sort.  Of course, there was a supper to cook, as well.  I decided to have an especially nice meal,as  a rainy day, does afford the luxury of “light duty chores”.  

How nice, that several of my favorite old movies were on, yesterday.  I started with “Gaslight’, after that, “The Man Who Came to Dinner”  and the grand finale, was “Arsenic and Old Lace”.  I drifted in and out of the den, while they played.  This bothered, me little, as I have seen them all a dozen times.  I did some of the painting, in the den.  What a wonderful morning, I thought.

Today, is the “official first day of summer” here. That rings true for me, as we had fresh squash, tomatoes and cucumber salad, for supper last night.  Thankfully, Mama shared  what she had, with us.  Kyle was especially glad, it had rained, as he knows my habit of cooking, on such days. When the kitchen smells, like a garden-it is summer.  There are other indications, as well.  The stars have increased in number in the night sky- and wild honeysuckle vines cover old fences and act like  garlands for the woodland trees.  Honeysuckles have a pleasant smell, and most every southern child has drank nectar from their blossoms.  

 The “Farmers’ Almanac”  has predicted a cooler season, than usual-and they are dependable forecasters.   This does not hurt my feelings a bit.  I have felt every bit as housebound in July,  as I have in January.   I do well, until it is 100 degrees and high humidity-in that case I wilt.   A country woman rises early under such conditions.  I was often in the garden by six am, and canning in the afternoon.  I have also canned at midnight, so the house wouldn’t get so heated.  Oddly,  I may miss my summer schedule, this year-but I am gladly willing to try a normal life.

Every chance I get, I go out to see if the bees  that have claimed the barn, are still angry-so far they are.  It takes a fair amount of bravery to go in the barn these days. They sting through clothing and can sting multiple times.  I almost swatted a butterfly, while under one attack.  He flew by at precisely, the wrong time.  I was so thankful to see him rise above the commotion unscathed.   Kyle has  mostly finished his work . All that is left  for him, is putting in a few new boards.  Of course there is also the job of removing the old wood .  I will start on that tomorrow.  I hope to paint the awning tomorrow, too.  On Friday, I am leaving  for Elizabeth City. 

I love the careless days of summer.  The sun is the only clock, at the rabbit patch, when it is summer.  Work, rest and play get their proper turns and I can devote my attention, mostly where I please.  Wealth is often measured in dollars, but for me, I  think owning your life is  a far superior alternative.  I have always held that notion and preached it to my children.    Of course, when the roof leaks and a barn commences to sag, money is necessary-and there is always the electricity bill.  In some way, summer balances the accounts . . and at least in summer, I am very wealthy.

Dear Diary, It is summer and in summer, I am glad for the rambling honeysuckle.  I am glad for the time when the sky fills up with stars.  I am glad for tomatoes and porches with geraniums.  When hours are counted by the way light falls and shade increases, then it  is summer . . .and I am glad.




I Remember Rain


How lovely it was to wake to the sound of a steady, gentle rain  .  I woke up feeling well rested, but the rain acted as a lullaby, so I did not rouse for a short while.  Instead, I listened to the “water music”.  I was thankful that today, I did not have to rush anywhere.  The day was mine and I took great delight in that. 

Yesterday, I cleaned the yard up and painted the kitchen cabinets, in addition to the daily housekeeping.  I had planned to paint the awning today, but truthfully, I am glad it is raining.  Rain gives me permission to watch old movies, even if the barn is not finished and the stripes on the awning, have  faded into a dreadful state.   No matter, how I remind myself that “Rome was not built in a day” , I find it difficult  not to prove that wrong . . if the sun is shining.  

I will not be entirely idle today.  I managed to get an old dresser drawer unstuck, yesterday, but the thing came apart on me, in the process.  I can repair that today.  The front porch can be tidied up and I may paint a flower pot as the thyme is complaining lately.  It is a good day to call an old friend, too -oh, but a rainy day is good for  a lot of things.

When I was  child, rainy days were good for a lot of things as well.  It was on those days, that my sister and I were allowed to drag out clothes from a chest, in Grandmas’ pink bedroom and dress up in all sorts odd outfits.  There were high heels and pocketbooks, as well as dresses.  We did not transform to princesses, but instead acted like the adults around us.  We had names likes “Lillian” and “Delphie”  and we acted quite proper.  Usually a doll would get sick, when it rained.  We looked at the “World Books”  for long whiles.  I declare I learned to read from the encyclopedias in the mohagony book case, long before I went to school.  

We had paper dolls  too and cut up old Sears & Roebuck catalogs, to make more.  I liked paper dolls when they were new, but in a short while, they became flimsy , and were apt to lose arms and heads.  It always shocked me and I felt like a murderer, because of it.  

In the afternoons, when Grandma got a chance to sit down, we often put on shows for her with songs and dances.  Later she would tell us stories, that she made up, about such things as a monkey or a circus.  Horrible things would happen, in her tales, but somehow they had happy endings.

Rainy days were happy occasions, unless they went on for days.  By then folks were grumpy-and all the paper dolls had died tragic deaths.  Laundry hung on the back porch and eliminated our performances.  My sister  and I would argue and the dolls argued too. Thank goodness,  for the World Books.  We always went back to them.

It is no wonder, that I see a rainy day, as a holiday, of sorts.  I will be quite content to paint flowers on pots and buckets-and hopefully repair the dresser drawer. Instead of reading about horses, trees and Helen Keller,  I will  find a strategy against the bumblebees in the barn, that have stung me, Kyle and Cash -and so hindered our progress.  I will pretend that I am a writer, living in a small cottage  with a small yard full of flowers and rabbits- and void of old barns with rotten floors and bumblees  . . .and on rainy days, Lyla will visit, because I have a story to tell. 

It Means “I Love You”


 Sunday Morning

Dawn broke with a muted light. The kind of light that does not rouse the world with any sense of urgency.  These kind of mornings, come “softly and  tenderly” like the old hymn says Jesus calls.  Even the birds sing more gently on such mornings.  They do not chatter this  Fathers’ Day  morning,   but instead sing in hushed verses-all except the purple martins.  The martins sing in cheerful trills, as only they can.

It gives me great joy to write, that there is finally and at long last, no wet paint in the old farmhouse. Of course this is a short lived affair, but the most of the painting is behind me.  I have been painting for weeks-at night before school was out, and since then, every day.  The farmhouse, is as old as it has ever been, but painting has not hurt it.  I have also painted an old wardrobe and the china cabinet, a stark white.  I do have a table left, if the spirit moves me, as well.

The yard has been neglected  because of all the ruckus in the house -and all of Farm Life can attest to that.  I plan to work outside, this week.  There is still the barn, too.  There is a bit more, for Kyle to do.  I will clean up behind him and then paint roses on the stair case.  Hopefully by then, I will spend some time with Lyla, by the laughing river.

I have a huge pot of chicken simmering now and another pot of butter beans.  I still have a cake to cook, and cornbread to fry, at the last possible moment.  It is Sunday- not just any Sunday-but Fathers’ Day, after all . . .and Daddy loves chicken and pastry. 

After Sunday Dinner

Mama and Daddy came in the back door, just as the last piece of cornbread  had been taken up.  The simple meal  was relaxed and easy, much like the morning light had been. I had fixed a cake, that I know Daddy especially likes- a cinnamon raisin cake.  I added diced apples today as I had two that needed to be used.  It was good enough that I talked him into taking some home.

Daddy, does not like a lot of fanfare.  He has never craved attention and has always shunned “big productions” made about him.  He is the  reigning patriarch  of four generations now and none of us want to disappoint him-not because he “rules the roost”  with fear, but because, he has made himself worthy of our respect.  He has never had to convince  us of that.  Daddy “wears his sermon, in his shoes.”

 Daddy carried a lunchbox to work for over thirty years.  I simply can not fathom that.  His days were long as  he often worked “overtime” and it was an hour to get there, and an hour to get back home.  I remember that when Daddy left to work night shift, we would wave good-by from the front door.  Mama would blink the porch light and daddy would honk the horn, as he drove off.  It meant ” I love you.”  We would all blow kisses -and we did so every time.  We never needed to call a repairman for anything , from bicycles to the stove, when I was growing up-  Daddy could fix everything and all of that meant “I love you” as well.   We could always depend on Daddy  and I think that may have been the loveliest thing of all.  I think it is safe to say, that I did “grow up privileged”.  I would just as soon sit in the shade of the sycamores, with daddy,  today, as anybody, I know of.

I have always lived a simple life-but I came from extraordinary people-and my own father, is one of them.

Dear Diary,  I am glad for mornings with soft light and  I am glad for the humble kitchen table, in the old farmhouse . . .especially on Sundays, when Mama and Daddy are there. . .because it means “I love you”, too.

All the Difference

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Today is far from ordinary, at the rabbit patch.  On this day, three decades ago, I became a mother.  My oldest son, Brant was born on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, while the mimosa trees were blooming.

 I have never forgotten the details of that day.  When I held him, a deep sense of love came over me- a kind of love that I had never known.  For the first time in my life, I truly understood how my parents loved me.  It was  a bigger  and more beautiful concept, than I could have imagined.  I was very over-whelmed with gratitude and wondered how could such an enormous kind of love existed without my knowledge of it.  That day changed me, and I am better because of it.

I remember the day, I brought Brant home.  I don’t think any mother forgets that.  I took him to the mimosa, that I had sat beneath, waiting for him.  I wanted him to know right off, that he had come to a world, with such lovely things, as mimosas.

Of course, as he grew, I continued this process.  I made sure, he didn’t grow up too civilized-and he didn’t.  He spent a good part of childhood in the woods.  Brant had a great respect for nature, and he still does.  He knew a male pine from a female at five years old.  One year it snowed, and Brant came in with a little sparrow in his hand!  I still don’t know how that happened.  Brant held him a while, by the woodstove, and then took him out and the little bird flew off.  Nothing has changed since then. Animals take to Brant, as if he is a charmer of sorts- so do children.  

Today, is also the first day of the summer break for me.  Kyle and Christian are at work, and the oldest children are all in Wilmington. -so I am having a quiet celebration at the rabbit patch.  There is plenty to do.  I hope to finish cleaning the barn, but it  is awfully hot, out.  Clothes are hanging on the line, and I always like that affair.   I listened to a purple martin”s  “trills” as I hung out the laundry.

  I plan to wash some antique glass dishes today.  I love to wash glass.  It is calming for me.  I love the way they sparkle in the sunlight, while drying.  It is not a job to hurry through, either, but instead demands slow , careful movement.  I have found that I think slow and careful thoughts as I wash-well, you can’t hurry your thoughts, when washing glass, either.  I remember who they belonged to,  and all the fuss that went on, when an occasion called for glass dishes, long ago when I was just a child.  I never helped in the clean-up after such events.  I was nervous and was sure I would be the one that cracked the bowl, that belonged to my great-great aunt, or some other saint before her or God forbid, I break the last platter of its’ sort, left in the world.

 I have painted a flower pot this morning.  I plan to paint pots and buckets this summer.  Of course, I must wait for rain, to spend a day painting.  The rabbit patch territory can be selfish, like that.  Weeds, grass and thorned vines are a relentless lot altogether,  and have no mercy on the ones that tend the land. Of course, under such conditions,  something happens between myself and the land.  We become entwined and speak our  own language.  I know where and when,  shade falls.  I know how the soil varies from the edge of the woods to the far side of the “Quiet Garden”.   I know where the morning star shines . . and I know where the wild violets bloom.  

In the Evening of the First Day

 It took longer than I expected to wash the glass and so I had ample time to entertain lofty notions.  Cash and the cats napped in front of a window fan.  The breeze coming through the windows stirred up the kitchen herbs and I breathed in the smell of basil and thyme, as I washed the pretty relics from the women before me.  I decided then and there, that it was a good thing to grow herbs on a sunny windowsill, and wherever I live, I will do so.

I did work in the old barn, after all, in spite of the heat.  I started a small fire in the garden where beans usually grow.   I watched the fire til it was reduced to embers, so did Cash . .so did Christopher Robin.  I thought of the simple moments that had made up my day.  The complexities of the world seemed far away from the clothes line-and the old barn.  A country woman keeps a diary of simple content, I thought, 

I thought of Brant, as I walked in the old house with the clean dishes.  His birth changed my life-His life changed the world.  He is one of the most kind hearted people I know.  He is known to give things to strangers, he buys shoes for children that need them and feeds any hungry animal that he comes across.  He knows every older neighbor around him and helps them bring groceries in.  I started writing, when Brant was born . 

Dear sweet Rabbit Patch Diary,  I became a mother on this day, long ago . . . and that has made all the difference.  Happy birthday Brant.






Beautiful, Ordinary Things

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Children are out of school and farmers are harvesting winter wheat.  “Queen Annes’ Lace” and  the  Day Lilies  bloom and mark the time better than any calendar.  This is the prelude to summer at the rabbit patch.  

School released at noon on Friday, liberating children and teachers, to spend their time as they please.  Many folks have lofty plans for the summer-trips out west, cruises -and everyone is going to the beach, at some point.  I came home and finally finished painting that very high ceiling in the den.  The rabbit patch does not close down for summer, but instead requires a fair share of attention.  Many years , I declared, that I could not possibly live here without summers off.  I was in the yard as soon as it was light and called it a day at sunset.  A few years ago, I was stung by ground bees and stayed in a few days.  Concerned neighbors stopped by as I was not seen working when they drove by.   I  always went back to school with scratches and bites, and tanned.  People would ask where I had been, an island maybe?  I told them, no- I had a garden and a big yard.

Of course, I have my own agenda for the summer.  We are in full swing sprucing up the old house.  There are repairs  needed to  some of the barns.  There is always a day of mowing, each week.  I will weed flower beds and cut those hateful thorned vines on a regular basis.  For the first time in a decade, I will not tend a garden, this year.  It was a hard decision to come by, as I love my garden . . but a garden just does not allow “a vacation”.  This summer, I plan to stroll by that laughing river with Lyla, every chance I get.  I want to go to Wilmington, to spend time with my oldest sons, Brant and Tres.  I do not want to worry about tomatoes and squash, while I am there.  I do not want to come home to a garden needing three days of weeding, either.  Thank goodness for farmer markets and kind neighbors, who are apt to share their bounty.  One year, my garden drowned, early on.  The Farm Life community  brought me more tomatoes, than I ever have grown.  It was not unusual to find a bushel of something on the back doorstep, upon waking or have a small truck drive up filled with sweet corn in mid morning.  Many gardeners grow with the intention of sharing, I realise-and the Farm Life community is as generous as any people, I have ever known.

The last moon of spring is a lovely grand finale to the season.  It is as orange as a tangerine and astrologers claim there is a certain degree of good luck abounding, because of it.  I do hope they are right.  I am certain it is lovely to behold and well worth spending some time with.  

I can not speak for all parts of the world, but I can say that the spring has been a lovely season at the rabbit patch.  The world is fairer when magnolias bloom.  The common daylilies and Queen Annes’ Lace adorn the roadsides and do not seem so common when they abide together.  Mimosa trees, may be  ” a dime a dozen’  but they are no less beautiful, because of it.  If you smell their feathery blossoms in the breeze, you will agree.  Fireflies, known as “lightening bugs” here, come out in great numbers, now.  It looks like Christmas in the young woods, when they do. Just now, the wild honeysuckle is starting to bloom and I think often, how beautiful the world is because of such ordinary things as wild flowers and full moons.

Today, Kyle and I have big plans.  There is mowing and hopefully, we will finish that dreadful barn floor. I have but a few days left of work days, and then I plan to take full advantage of “spending my time, as I please”.  There are shade trees to sit under, when the work is finished.  I will gather roses and hydrangeas for vases and  of course . . . .there is always the laughing river.

When It Rains. . .It Pours

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The old foiks were right, when they said “when it rains, it pours.”  I found out first hand, Tuesday night.  A storm came across the fields, with roaring and the sky was snapping like the fourth of July.  With it came rain that fell hard and mightily.  The roof repair was hardly finished and so it rained in the old farmhouse-not leaked, but rain poured in.  I was up on a ladder painting a high ceiling in the den, when I first heard the commotion.  Kyle and Christian were scrambling and using loud tones, so I scrambled as best I could and found myself in the midst of a ruckus.  

Christian was running from the pantry with every big pot he could find.  Kyle had gathered the towels we use for the dogs, and then raided the linen closet.  No matter, how resourceful they were, there was a large puddle of rain water on the floor and it was not letting up.  There was thunder and lightening and wind, when Christian ran out and got on the roof.  He stepped on a nail within three minutes.  I was sure he had been struck by lightening and nearly fainted, when I heard him yell out.  When I found out, he had not been electrocuted, I commenced to fussing.  I knew it was a terrible idea that Kyle had gone to a cook out on Friday.  I fussed because he went fishing on Saturday.  I fussed because I lived in an old house.  I brought up a lot of things in those moments.

Cash, my boxer, and the cats, Christopher Robin and Moon Shine assembled, like a choir in the corner.  Moon Shine was skittish and jumpy.  Cash seemed nervous and worried and Christopher Robin was calm and I declare he had all sorts of judgements about us, on his face about the predicament.  I came close to crying, when there wasn’t a dry towel  left in the house. When the worst was over, and the water was reduced to a leak, I examined Christians’ foot and decided he would live, after all.  

I was exhausted from the excitement-and throwing my fit.  I decided I would not climb the ladder again and began putting things away. . . That is when I spilt the pristine white paint on the hardwood floor.  What a horrible shock to remember, there wasn’t a dry towel in the house, at that particular moment.  my feet felt fastened to the floor-when I could move, I ran to the kitchen, taking care to select dish towels that had seen better times.  When that was over, I just wanted to go to bed.

Of course, I couldn’t go to sleep right off-I had a lot of confessing to do.  The more I listed things to beg pardon for,  the drowsier, I got.  I even remembered to be glad about the lilies.  I thought of the blessed gardenia which is in full bloom and the Mimosa tree with its’ feathery blossoms that are one of my very favorite scents.  I remembered laying with Brant, when he was weeks old, under a mimosa decades ago, on a soft blanket.  I thought how I can’t wait to show Lyla, these beautiful trees, that her great grandmother, loved too, as does Jenny. 

Yesterday, the boys worked on the roof, with an experienced roofer.  This morning, it rained again, but the old house did not get wet.  The towels are all washed and sorted.  Supper is simmering, on this day that is cool enough to be one in late September.  I bought a new can of paint, today.  I also picked out the color I want to paint my cottage door, one day.

Dear Diary,  I am glad to remember that a leaking roof . . .is just that.  I am glad that in moments, when I do not act properly . . .it is just that, too.  I will hope to take the high road, more often than not, which is strewn with things like mimosa trees with soft pink blossoms and gardenias in full bloom . . . and surely,  I must “consider the lilies”.

Rabbit Patch Glory

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Very Early on Sunday Morning

By seven am, I was gathering more branches on the rabbit patch territory.  I have two more piles to gather and burn, and then will be caught up-for at least a week.  There is no rest for the weary on a rabbit patch.  I did see that the cape jasmine is in full bloom, along with the lilies. 

Cash, my very loyal boxer, went with me.  The morning was especially cool.  I surveyed the property and felt grateful for all the work done this week end.  Finally, at long last,  order has been restored on the rabbit patch.  Things are in their proper places and mostly the  territory looks tidy.  This is no small feat.  Old trees are dear to my heart, but they do make a mess.  Still, I will not complain with a tree.  The barns, I will complain with.  

There are five barns in the back yard-several are really big open shelters.  I like them all to be orderly as you can see their content.  The rabbit patch requires a lot of tools, besides wheel barrows and mowers etc. There are also water hoses and cages for tomato plants.  There are buckets and bushel baskets-what a commotion it all causes.  We are all in the habit of working til we are very tired and so a rake is liable to end up where a bucket ought to be.  I have read, and believe, that “love covers a multitude of sins.” . . the same can be said for a barn door.

This morning, somehow , when there is a bit of “rabbit patch glory”,  I am not sorry in the least, for the work.  Christian and I worked together for hours.  In the evening,  we stood basking in our accomplishments.  We were both tired and dirty.  We both agreed that we hoped one day soon, we would find that cottage, with a sidewalk in front of it. We both went to bed early . I couldn’t tell you what I dreamed and I am quite sure I was asleep before everyone got blessed.

I did get a nice surprise, last night.  Jenny called and is bringing Lyla for a visit.  Jenny has a baby shower to attend and so I will tend to Lyla.  We are meeting at my parents’ house, so we will  have a nice visit- and probably for best part of the afternoon.  Baby showers are not what they used to be, after all.

 It used to be that showers were for women and little girls, mostly.  There would be a pretty table with glass dishes, which were collected by older women and lent out to the hostesses.  Of course, I have a collection myself,. (When people started using paper products, the thick cut glass  lost its’ appeal and were “a dime a dozen”. )   The food was always the same.  There were little decorated cake squares, nuts, lady fingers, sandwiches made with cucumber and  others made with pimento cheese.  Chicken salad was served in cute little pastry cups.- and the best  and always home made mints in pastel colors.   There was a corsage for the expecting mother and punch was served.  It was an almost formal affair.  Some one wrote an account of the gifts, because thank you notes were a must!  They were all the same. Gifts were chosen by those attending.  There were no lists of desired items. sent with the invitation, telling you where to buy them.  Most often, we didn’t know the gender, so there were bibs,sleepers  and receiving blankets in mostly green and yellow.  Someone always crocheted an afghan, to give.  Wedding showers were conducted in the same fashion.  What sweet occasions, showers were.   I suppose my memories truly tell my age . . .and I do not consider it a foolish endeavor, to give an account of an old tradition.  One thing remains, as it always was-there is a young mother, full of hopes and dreams, at everyone of them-or a joyful bride, fairly glowing.

Sunday Afternoon

Things did not go as planned in the afternoon.  Lyla was not well and so Jenny did not attend  the shower-  so. I headed for the woods.  I do not like to work in the woods, this time of year.  As a child, the woods were forbidden once it got warm outside.  Threats about  redbugs, poison ivy,  ticks, snakes and ground bees  were cited over and over-and I know now, it was all true.  Forts and secret places were abandoned in the spring and not to be revisited until after a few “hard” frosts-still,  if I didn’t tend to those vines, the battle would very soon be lost -and so I devised a plan. I used the mower to create a ruckus and cut the vines sitting while the motor roared.  Of course, I came out battered and scratched, but the victory was mine, on this day.

I finally declared a truce with the rabbit patch after that ordeal.  Tomorrow, I must enter civilization again, after all.

Dear Diary,  The days have  not been full of fires and thorns only , but lovely things too .  The Cape Jasmine blooms  and so do the lilies.  I remembered something sweet from long ago and felt glad-I made a wish on the star closest to the moon and all things considered, it might just come true.




Raised in a Barn


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Friday Evening

It is late in the day at the rabbit patch.  One of the first June evenings, this year.  I have been home for a good while.  I have stacked a small pile of wood, picked up branches and small limbs all over the territory and commenced to make a small fire with them.  I gathered a bucket, a rake and a few other items scattered about and restored order, something dear to my heart.  I also washed the ceiling in the laundry room and now I realize,  the little den ceiling needs washing too.

 All of this happened, after work, and the sun is still shining.  At this very moment, the rabbit patch looks gilded in gold and amber.  There isn’t a cloud , nor a star in the sky.  The sun, as it slides behind the woods. makes the trees look black.  It is a lovely and familiar sight- and the repetition of it does not make the sun set one iota less than “holy” to me. . .every day.

Living on a rabbit patch, does have advantages . . like watching the sun set over a peaceful pasture.  I drive in from the small town, where I work, and it feels like the place has been waiting for me , when I get home.  Birds are singing and the air is pure and fragrant, especially now.   Of course, my boxer, Cash and the cats, Christopher Robin and Moon Shine, make a big commotion at my arrival. What a contrast to leave a hot asphalt parking lot and step into cool shade with tender grass beneath you, a few moments later.  There is an immense amount of work, I remind myself, when I get sentimental about selling it.

 I was mowing yesterday- a small pasture that had not been mowed this year.  It was an awful job and it was hot.  I had several limbs to remove and more than a few briers were growing along the fence.  They scratched me hatefully.  When the mosquitoes came out,  I gave up and went in the old house.  Supper would be late this night.  I really can not wait to find my little cottage with a smaller yard,  I thought.

I will not stroll by the laughing river this weekend.  Tomorrow, we work on the oldest barn floor.  I also have to cut some overgrown bushes and more hateful briers down the wooded path.  I will likely disturb the rabbit community, on account of that.  I remember when we blazed the trail in the patch of young woods.  It was slow and tedious work, with primitive tools.  Every foot gained required a lot of hard work.  Each year, I go to great lengths to maintain the path, that meanders by three old barns once used to “cure tobacco”, years ago.  Doves live there now.

Early Saturday Morning

I intended to sleep a bit  later today, but I woke with a start, and couldn’t decide if it were Friday or Saturday.  After a few rounds, I decided it was Saturday-by then I needed coffee.  Cash and I went outside and found the morning shine, especially lovely on the fresh cut lawn.  I looked at the old barn.  It is what is called a “pack house.”  These barns are big and usually two story -and there are less of them than there used to be.   They were used to store dried tobacco, corn, hay  and such.  In the fall, the barns buzzed with crews removing the dried tobacco from sticks, to be graded by “old people” who knew how.  I remember my grandmother -and Ida, so old , no one including her, knew her age, sorting the leaves by hand, for market.  Little children had contraptions that were  really, screened large play pens, to have their snacks in and to nap, so flies wouldn’t bother them.  I have one, that I converted to a place to store food while we picnic.  I learned my nursery rhymes, in an old barn like this one.  My sister and I played in the barns, in the winter, with our dolls.  We set up housekeeping and spent many hours in the coldest months tending to sick dolls and teaching them rhymes and verses.  I guess, I really was “raised in a barn”, after all.

The old packhouse at the rabbit patch is white, with a wreath painted on the door and some of my favorite verses are painted on the sides.  It is dirty and cluttered and then -there is the floor.  I always knock loudly on the door, before entering, just in case there is a varmint inside.  

In recent years, the old barn has been used for family reunions.  Once, neighbors used it, when it rained on the day of their own picnic.  It stores furniture too, and even has little curtains at the windows.  The upstairs has a beautiful view of the fields of sage and the little orchard.  There is three days worth of work, in that barn, at least.  Just considering that makes me want that little cottage with the smaller yard, all the more, -because really a garden shed is all I need now.

Dear Rabbit Patch Diary,   Good Morning!  I am especially busy with an old barn today.  There is a fire to tend-and I fear supper will  be late, again . . and scant.    Today, I must give my all to the rabbit patch . . . so please send my warmest regards to the laughing river