I left Thursday morning for Elizabeth City. It was a peaceful drive even with a little rain falling. I thought of all that had been accomplished at the rabbit patch, in the last few weeks. There was much ado over the realtors’ visit. It had all taken a toll, but I had survived, after all. There are still some chores, waiting for my return, but that is always the case. Now, was the time to play.
Jenny had an appointment at ten am. The weather was pleasant and so Lyla and I headed for the playground, just a few minutes away. On the way, I met some lovely folks. As it turns out, the husband grew up not far from the rabbit patch and the wife, grew up near Lake Phelps, where my youngest sister, Connie lives. The wife walked with us for a short ways. It was like a gift to meet friendly folks-and so early in the day. What a nice morning, I thought.
The park is nestled by a bridge, on the banks of the laughing river. There is a flock of geese, most days, gliding back and forth. Their presence add a nice touch of charm. While Lyla played, I watched a young man walk to the edge of the water with a small bag. The geese scurried towards him. He must be an old friend, I thought. He threw handfuls of some concoction in the water and the wild geese were glad about it. When he left, I took the scraps of a peanut butter sandwich. and Lyla and I fed them, too. We tried to make sure every one of them got a crumb. Jenny picked us up from the park, and on the way home, I thought how good it was to meet new friends and to feed wild geese, on a summer morning.
On Friday, we woke to rain. It was a steady downpour. Light did not come boldly, but instead crept into the Riverside village. Hours later, so did thunder. The river turned lavender and remained that way all day. The rain seemed to alter time. There was no indication that morning had passed . We spent the day quietly. We sat on the porch for long whiles and watched the rain fall. All day long it rained . . .and it was beautiful. I wouldn’t have believed, any thing could have disturbed the peace of that day . . but I was wrong.
The realtor sent documents to be signed. The papers were “important” and “official” . They were “binding”, as well. Now any sort of papers with rules and stipulations just unsettle me. It is an odd condition, I realise, but it has always been the case. Still, I signed everything and hoped for the best. Immediately, a second call came in, and it was necessary for me to make an important decision, on another matter, altogether. The third and last call was just a bit of a disappointment. Well, things surely turned around quickly, I thought. I could hardly concentrate and found myself having all sorts of notions. I had been so full of peace, even with selling the rabbit patch. How absurd, that I felt my confidence in the grand scheme of things, wavering. I went through all the right motions as Jenny had company, but I felt “off” and knew, that the first chance I got . . .I needed to tend to my heart.
On Saturday, I woke early-and it was raining. It was quite windy. The young willow tree, with its’ long tendrils flailing in the constant gale, made quite a spectacle of itself. The laughing river water was in a state of perpetual motion. Wind moves everything around-from mighty rivers to the seeds of summer wildflowers. I thought. There is nothing wrong with things getting rearranged, sometimes.
I thought of the day before and regretted how easily my Faith had been shaken. I had prayed many prayers about my path. I had trusted. Things were unfolding and making good sense. It is easy to trust, when things seem to make sense. When there is order and logic, I can understand and go along my merry way with confidence. This is not difficult. It is when, there appears to be a kink, or a process accelerates more quickly that I expected-or slows down, either-whatever the case . . When it doesn’t seem to make sense to me, I start to wonder and doubt. The realisation washed over me like the rain washed over the village . I felt like a “fair weather friend” to God. Rae called in the midst of my deep thought, and said she didn’t see a thing out of order. Rae has this uncanny ability of discernment. I love Rae.
The wind blew all day and showers popped up at any given moment. It was cool enough outside to be late April. I made a strawberry cake to share with Miss Claudia and Miss Thelma. All day, I pondered upon the “early service” -and hoped to do better. I kept in mine, that I was showing my children, how to act under all circumstances. . . Meanwhile, the young willow was being battered and blown hither and yonder, yet I did not sense the young tree was fearful-and on Sunday morning, it stood upright and quite unscathed. It was just a little wind, after all.
Dear Diary, I am glad for geese on still waters. I am glad for wind that churns the water, too. I am glad for strawberries and rain. . . And I am glad for friends like Rae -and the young willow, too.
I was up especially early, today-but I still missed “the morning service”. I did not say my prayers, til two am, just a few hours, before I roused. The sweet little housekeeping work on Monday, turned out to be grueling. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, we were moving furniture and painting more trim. I also packed up a huge collection of Nutcrackers, that belong to Tres and a herd of piggy banks, that belongs to Kyle. Christian decided to wash every article of his clothing, before he put it back in his closet-that through a kink in the plan. I wanted to wash all the curtains and linens, so the laundry piled up, while young spiders made more cobwebs. By four o’clock, Christian and I were cranky and answered each other curtly. Cash stayed out of the way. I had banished the cats to the barn, as they do not follow directions and are very likely to dip their paws in wet paint. If you scold them they run around the room, three times, tracking prints. By the time Kyle came in from work, Christian and I were barely on good terms. Kyle knew Christian and I were never cross with one another, and being perplexed, he asked “What happened?”. Christian and I both said “Nothing!!” in rude tones. This broke the tension, like a charm. I told Kyle, “the realtor comes tomorrow-remember?”.
I ended up making a run to Williamston, to get a new shower curtain, new sheets for a bedroom and new pillows. My mother would never have gone to a store, in the condition I was in. I do not think I had combed my hair all day and I was in “housekeeping” attire, as well. Thankfully, I found what I needed quickly, and did not see anyone that knew me.
The night was as long as the day. I went to bed, thinking about a bag of trash, I had left on the porch and curtains that needed to be hung.
The meeting with the realtor lasted a few hours. We walked the territory, down the wooded path, into the “Quiet Garden” and around the fruit trees and flowers. We peered in a lot of the barns, too. When the house had been thoroughly inspected, we settled at the kitchen table to talk business. The realtor was nice and down to earth. I liked her right off. I was pleased with the results and think I may can “get out alive”, after all. Time will tell.
When the realtor left, I put on a nightgown and ate a bowl of ice cream. I called Rae, and we decided we wanted to visit. Rae and I have been friends for more than two decades, so I did not have to change clothes. We had a sweet talk around the kitchen table. Rae had ice cream and of course, peach cobbler. I am certain, that was her supper. We took a walk, as it was so pleasant outside today. We admired the flowers and butterflies. We picked a few peaches, too. Oh how lovely it was!
Rae left to attend her weekly ballroom dance class. I sat quietly reflecting on the past few weeks. I have “gotten rich” off of this rabbit patch, I thought. My bank account does not bear witness to this, . . even the sale of the rabbit patch, will not remedy that. . . but how wealthy I have become.
I have learned a good amount here. I know that hard work makes you sleep better and relieves frustration. Authentic joy does not fade, nor break, nor get lost. It can not be bought nor sold, and it may show up in a pine tree. Simplicity is beautiful. It does not confine us, as we may first believe, but instead is liberating. Planting heals. The soil takes our sorrows, and like a good mother, helps us grow. There are millions of stars, and they are not reserved for kings. As it is written, “the rain does fall on everybody, whether or not we are just”. The robin sings and the rose gives bloom -and we all have the same chance to notice.
The rabbit patch is not selfish, and does not limit its’ generosity to the territory. I will carry my precious jewels wherever I abide. I may be here for a many more seasons, or not-but I am certain of something. . . I got rich off of a rabbit patch and the storehouse is in my heart, “where moth and rust cannot corrupt”.
Dear Diary, I am glad that I have lived on a rabbit patch.
As soon as the sun came up, I went out to pick peaches. How sweet it felt, to be outside in pleasant conditions. There was a soft, almost cool breeze and the fresh cut lawn was in its’ glory. The rabbit patch is lovely, after all I thought.
I got most of the mowing done yesterday. It was so hot, I was forced to take more breaks than usual, and so it was a slow task. At the back of the property, a young tree is down. At least one sin I do not have to worry about is “idle hands”. Other than the felled tree, most of the work is done, that I had set out to do, before Tuesday, when the appraiser comes. Today, there is just a bit of outside chores. I have about thirty minutes left of mowing, as I ran out of gas yesterday. (I was almost glad.) I need to finish pressure washing the north side of the house. There is a small load of trash from the barns and one last barn to organise. Tomorrow is housework. After Tuesday, no matter how sinfully long, the list of what more I need to do is, from the appraiser . . .I plan to rest. .. and I hope it rains.
In spite, of the circumstances, I am having Sunday Dinner” today. It has been a good while, since I cooked at the rabbit patch on Sunday. That is why, I was picking peaches, at the crack of dawn. Of course, while things were cooking, I started painting the front porch windows. There are only three, thankfully.
After Sunday Dinner
Mama and Daddy came around noon. Christian had just come in from work and so with Kyle and I, too, the table was full. The peach cobbler was a big hit, especially-with vanilla ice cream piled on top. It was a sweet affair altogether.
It was very difficult to think about going out in the heat again, when the dinner was over. Yesterday was still fresh in my mind. I soon regretted that I had added the window painting to an already full agenda. When I did muster the courage to go out, I found the heat was much more bearable than yesterday. There was a slight, but constant breeze. When I was mowing, I had a nice surprise. I found a sweet Lantana growing along a fence. The flowers are little clusters of lavender, pink and cream and have a citrus scent. The woods are full of flowers just now. Beauty berry bushes are along the edge. There are irises just now blooming, too. The butterfly bush, that planted itself there is massive enough to give shade.
I came in the house just after seven. The only task, not completed was organising the biggest and oldest barn. I did get it swept, but the hateful bees made their presence known and I took it seriously. The appraiser will have to take my word, that the old barn is great for family reunions. . . when the bees move on.
Tomorrow is the housekeeping day. Things are mostly put away but every floor needs scrubbing. I declare that spiders are the busiest creatures I know of, for there are cobwebs again in the high ceiling corners. I am also convinced that a fair share of the rabbit patch soil is on the baseboards. Still, it pleases me to think of tomorrow.
The air changed quickly tonight. I couldn’t find a single star, when I went out. I smelled rain. A cool wind showed up and then I heard thunder. Oh, but the coolness felt good after the heat of the last few days. I stood there in the wind til all my weariness left me. I heard the whispering pines singing. Then the rain came , so gently. I said “good night” and felt like I was leaving another lovely affair.
I went back in the house to find a butterfly in the kitchen. I have had birds come in several times. Once a rooster came in, and once a little goat. Brant brought a shetland pony in, when he was around four- but I have never had a butterfly visit. It tickled me. I decided, it had to mean something good.
Dear Diary, I am glad when loved ones gather for a Sunday Dinner. I am glad to find flowers beside a picket fence. . .and along the woodlands’ edge. I am glad for a cool wind and a light rain, in the evening . . .and the song of the pines that falls like a lullaby. I am also glad for the little butterfly that came to visit.
The farmhouse on the rabbit patch is old . . almost a century old. It was built at a time, when real wood was used and put together with nails made of real iron. I know every inch of it personally, by now. This week I have reunited with every nook and cranny. The only things left in this house are things we need or love. To say, I have “cleaned my act up” is an understatement. My bones will attest to that.
Today, I am cleaning out two more barns. There are nine of them. These barns are not little garden sheds and I am quickly losing my affection for them. The flowers and verses I have painted on them, no longer tug at my heart. The painted wreaths on the doors do not cheer me. I am too tired and dirty to find them “cute’. It is hot enough to “cure tobacco” inside of the barns, as well. I have found all of the missing flashlights and hammers, though . . and the pitchfork.
Today was the hottest day so far this summer. I took a good many breaks. I am quite sure the sycamores saved my life today. I drank ice water , in their shade and felt the cool earth beneath me, while a mockingbird sang. Cash, my loyal friend, laid beside me. He is determined to guard me while I work. He followed me all over the territory, from one place to another, in spite of the heat-no rabbit would get me this day! I love dogs.
I can never do just one task at a time. I have some sort of condition, I suppose, which comes in handy on occasion. When I needed to get out of the barns, I would cut vines. Southern vines are vicious and grow faster than they have a right to. I cut vines growing up the side of barn, behind the azaleas. Why I did not see a snake is beyond me. Some of the vines had thorns and scratched me quite hatefully. Others are known to be poisonous. . . I cut them too. . .and hoped for the best. I noticed the lone pine , in the front yard, with vines creeping up its’ trunk and so I set out to free the tree that whispers in the wind. I stepped and sunk into the largest mound of fire ants, in all the world. They had quite an empire, tucked neatly behind the irises. That was it for me, on this day.
Once I was cleaned up and in fresh clothes, I felt civilized again. It was just after five and for me that was an early time to quit working. I secretly wished it would rain and relieve me of the guilt of stopping chores early. I decided to go to the grocery as I had not been in weeks. That is when it rained. The downpour came fast and I walked in the grocery soaking wet. The store felt so cold after working in the heat . . and being drenched. I remembered catching rain water, when I was young, to rinse my hair in. Rain water really does soften hair. Of course, it is much more pleasant to catch rain in a bucket, instead of a parking lot.
It is early as I write this. Today is supposed to be as hot as yesterday-over one hundred degrees, even in the shade of a sycamore. The territory needs mowing and so I will hopefully get started on that. Mowing is hot, but it is easier than cleaning a barn out.
I still want to pressure wash the house. . .and the biggest barn of all really needs organizing and sweeping. I wonder if the hateful bees are still there. They clearly won the first round. The floors of the old farmhouse need scrubbing and there are curtains and linens to wash. The appraiser comes on Tuesday morning. After that, I plan to think of something besides chores.
I have tried to keep things in perspective. I am simply downsizing and people do it every day. After all, to quote my friend, Mrs. Cobbs, “It is not world peace” at stake. Besides, the Japanese roses are blooming again. They really look like carnations, to me. The apple and two types of peach trees are bearing gifts, too. Black-eyed-susans and the rose-of sharon bushes are doing what they can and the red geraniums on the porch are as cheerful as ever. There is the sunset, when the sky turns shades of gold, lavender and pink. . . and then the grand finale – when millions of stars fill the sky with silver. I think of Yeats who penned “the golden apples of the sun, the silver apples of the moon”.
I take these things personally and highly recommend we all do. It evokes a sense of well being and snuffs out frustrations promptly. Gratitude wells up and even if you are not a poet . . . you are liable to cry at such beauty.
Dear Diary, I am glad for trees that give shade and trees that give fruit. I am glad for trees that whisper in the wind, too. I am glad for dogs and mockingbirds. I am glad for rain. I am glad for all of the holy wonders of this world.
July is not meandering-in fact, it is going along at “break neck” speed. When I was younger, July did not pass “in a twinkling”, as it does now. I make it a point, not to concern myself with clocks and calendars in the summer. As I write this, I do not know the date, however, the mailbox has been full of August bills, so it is impossible not to at least be vaguely aware, that July, is in its’ latter days.
The farmhouse on the rabbit patch is still “a work in progress”. I shutter to think of how many bags of things have been thrown away or donated. I took a large donation yesterday to an older couple that run a second hand store. They are generous and have helped members of the community, in hard times. Yesterday, they implored me to find something to take as a gift. I was in mid sentence, declaring that “I was not bringing any thing in the house . . ” when my eyes landed on a piece of “carnival glass”. I have been collecting this glass for a decade. It is quite hard to find and too expensive, for a teacher, really. So, how could I pass up the pretty dish, in good conscience? I accepted the gift and added it to my collection, after all.
Christian and I spent the afternoon, cleaning out his room. Christian is an artist in every sense. He is an accomplished musician, a writer and he draws beautifully. This means, that hours are spent filing sketches and songs . . then there are the journals and the guitar strings, not to mention the guitar picks and sketching supplies. Well, that took a good while. As I painted the bathroom, he sorted through the piles. Ever so often I heard him playing the piano, though.
He too, has some things to donate, but I will send him to do the deed. Obviously, I shouldn’t go and I cannot send Kyle, either. Kyle has always had a hard time parting with anything. When he was little, he did not even want to part with clothes he had outgrown-and the last time I sent Kyle . . he came back with the box of stuffed animals still in the car.
The good news is, we are but a day away from being finished with the cleaning out. Tres may come home this weekend to put the new ceiling in the hallway (which has become a storage for bags of trash). Then I will need to paint that area, which does not scare me. Of course, I am expecting a “proclamation” of sins from the appraiser, following the visit, that will need tending.
In all the commotion going on inside the old farmhouse, I have managed to admire the “black-eyed-susans” blooming like sunshine in the far corner of the “Quiet Garden”. Morning Glory vines are growing with great vigor, though not one has bloomed just yet. . .and the ginger lilies have made no promises. . . but, the lowly mimosa blooms faithfully, and makes its’ presence known on soft breezes. My grandmother loved mimosas. Brant laid under a mimosa as an infant-and so did Lyla. Jenny loves them as I do. Beautiful , sweet memories can cause such an endearment to common things, like the mimosa, that mostly grow on ditch banks and at the edge of fields. The same can be said of the Queen Annes’ Lace, a lovely wildflower that is likely to grow anywhere it pleases. The rose is fairer, when coupled with Queen Anne and July is better off, because of the mimosa. I love things that grow wild.
Dearest Sweet Diary, I am glad for seasons to work and dream, I am glad for a son that plays music, at any given moment. I am glad for mimosas that tinge the air with sweet scent- and flowers that are not planted by man. . .and grow where they please. I am glad for the morning glory that tangles where it can. I am glad, for I love things that grow wild.
I drove home from Elizabeth City on Sunday morning. The daylight was the kind that did not reveal the time. It could have been seven am, but it was really nine, when I left the Riverside village. If it weren’t for Kyle, Christian, my dog and cats, then it would have broken my heart to leave Lyla sitting in her high chair.
I had gotten used to lingering over coffee, with Jenny. We would loosely, plan our day, while Lyla chattered away. One morning, Lyla got up in an especially good mood. She said “Good Morning, Honey!” with such a smile-and then she said ‘cake and cookies!” several times. Jenny said, Lyla had said that in her sleep, too. What truly “sweet dreams”, she must have had.
Lyla has a “kitchen”, given to her by her aunt Mari “Bea”. There is a little telephone mounted on the set, and so of course, Jenny and I started “calling in orders’. You can order whatever you want . . but you are only getting cake. Jenny ordered corn, once and Lyla said “cake?” Jenny said “corn” again, and Lyla said “cake”. This went on til Lyla hung up on Jenny! After that, I ordered cake.
Thankfully, I had a nice drive home. When I turned in the rabbit patch drive way, I saw that the yard needed mowing again, but I also noted that the front porch really did look good, with its’ fresh paint. . .as did the awnings. the geraniums were blooming with blossoms as red as the front door. When I walked in the kitchen, there was my dog, Cash and he was in a state of delight at the sight of me. Moon Shine, the cat that used to be wild, turned his back on me and walked out. Christopher Robin, the cat that casts judgement “at the drop of a hat” was lying on top of the refrigerator. I have never seen him there before, as that is against the “house rules”, yet he barely flinched. I knew right that moment, he was holding a grudge against me, for leaving, in the first place.
I went to work, straight away on things I had to do for the “inspection” that is coming up, by the realtor. Oh, gone are the days of leisure strolls watching birds and rabbits. Farewell, to the hours sitting in a swing, watching the river turn a delightful shade of lavender, just hours after noon. It is back to cleaning out barns and climbing ladders, again. . . and picking peaches.
The peach tree is boasting just now-and it ought to. There are enough peaches to make cobblers whenever I feel like it. Of course, I plan to make ice cream with a few. Miss Claudia will agree with me on that. It does not surprise me a bit that the peaches are ready to pick and preserve, the same week as the appraiser is coming.
Mid summer is always busy at the rabbit patch. The “sprucing up of the rabbit patch” took the place of the gardening this year. Lord willing, next year I will tend a small garden. I do know, especially now, that I would rather be growing tomatoes than going through paint, “like it’s water”.
This coming week, will be a far cry from the last one. But, since arriving, I have cleaned out and organised the storage barn and eliminated a large upright cabinet in the house. While going through boxes in storage, I found letters, I had written my grandmother, over thirty years ago. There was a time when people wrote their thoughts and best wishes down on pretty paper, I remembered. I was a young mother at this time and wrote about my babies, mostly. One was written just before Christmas letting her know how much I looked forward to seeing her. I read them without hurry. Oh, it made me so sentimental that she had saved them, that I closed the door on the little barn without sweeping the floor.
The light never changed all day, but I know that the hours passed, anyway. A lot happened . . . and I was tired because of it.
Dear Diary, I am glad for midsummer when peach trees are laden with gold and lavender rivers drift peacefully by. I am glad to hear Lylas’ “sweet dreams” and I am glad for finding the old letters written to my own grandmother, long ago. No matter where I go . . across three rivers- in the kitchen at the rabbit patch or an old barn- love abides . . .and I am especially glad for that.
I did not miss the “early service” this morning. I awoke early and well rested. The “early service” for me, is that holy time when the day is born. It is a time of hope and a lot of things seem possible. Often I feel like “Alice” because, I too “can imagine six impossible things before breakfast”.
Mornings are peaceful now, in the early hours. Birds and squirrels are not in the same hurry as they were a few short weeks ago. They are not battling for territory, nor hastily gathering nesting materials. Now, their chatter is relaxing and cheerful. I think the squirrels are sleeping through the “service” altogether.
I have been in Elizabeth City since Saturday. I arrived with very few goals. I wanted Jenny to be able to work on her assignments and of course that meant (delightfully), I would spend time with Lyla. I also was determined to make a peach cobbler for Wills’ mom, Miss Claudia. Miss Claudia is someone that I love to cook for as she is grateful and always praises my effort . . .and she especially loves peaches. In July, when fresh peaches are available, I always remember that. I cooked a cobbler night before last. I had enough to share with Miss Claudia and I took some to Miss Thelma. Miss Thelma declared that peach cobbler was her favorite too.
Another mission, on this visit was to make homemade ice cream. Now I have never had any ice cream, that wasn’t good, but homemade is really the best. My parents gave Will and Jenny an ice cream maker for Christmas, one year and so we used that yesterday to make vanilla ice cream. Today, I want to make “smores” ice cream, as Jenny loves anything in that flavor.
I had never used a modern ice cream maker . . but once, I talked my friend, Jo Dee, into visiting a thrift store with me. It was one I frequented often and I assured her the prices were more than reasonable. Jo Dee said that she was not spending a dollar, but would go with me, in the spirit of friendship. On the way, Jo Dee told me that her budget would not allow foolish spending of any sort. We walked in the door of the shop, just moments later. Jo Dee took two steps and said “I want that, no matter what it costs!” I was shocked and took a look. It was a brand new ice cream maker, never even taken out of the box. Jo Dee, came up with $20.00, in a matter of minutes. On my next visit to Jo Dees’, Rae came along. Rae eats ice cream for supper, quite often. Jo Dee made a batch of ice cream for us that day-and I was “sold” at the first bite. Besides, “July” is as good excuse as any I know of, to make ice cream.
The last few days, have been hot. I can not complain, as it is July, after all. Lyla and I have strolled in the mornings. The shaded sidewalks are hot by mid morning. Even the breeze coming across the “laughing river” is warm and does little to cool a weary brow. We have stayed in the house the last two afternoons. I declare “it is not fit for man nor beast” outside-and that includes the front porch. In light of this, Lyla and I have been taking to walking in the late evening.
In the late evening, the bat colony comes out. There is an old building with offices and apartments on the edge of the river. It has a large chimney, and that is where the bats live. We were taken by surprise, one evening, while watching the moon rise, over the river. We all watched the colony in awe of the number of them and the way they swirled in unison above us. Their silhouettes against the gray sky coupled with a rising full moon , made me expect to see a witch on a broom, streak through the sky, as well. Lyla, not knowing the poor reputation of bats, found the whole affair beautiful. She stared for a good while, and so I did too. I decided the flight of bats was lovely after all. Now, when dusk has set in, Lyla remembers the bats. . .and so we set off for the river.
Dear Diary, In July, I am glad for peaches, and the chance to share them with loved ones. I am glad for peaceful mornings and quiet evenings when the bats come out and the sky becomes a stage. I am also glad for ice cream, really all of the time . . but especially in July.