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.
Early Sunday morning
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.
This Past Friday
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.
It happened on Saturday
I came to Elizabeth City on Saturday morning. Somehow, I finished the porch at the rabbit patch on Friday evening as the sun was setting. I believe it was sheer determination. As I drove the familiar route, over three rivers, to Jenny and Wills’ home, I drove under a bright and cloudless sky. The water looked gilded in silver. Even the large fields, I passed, sparkled with morning dew, in the suns’ generous light.
When I arrived at the Riverside Village, there was a lemonade stand set up by a quaint bridge . There was an older couple sitting in the shade and they waved and smiled, as I passed. Had I not been so anxious to see Lyla, I would have stopped just to say hello. It was a sweet sight- and a good idea, I thought. Why can’t adults sell lemonade, after all? Maybe I will do that one day, as well.
Moments later, I was walking in the back door at Jennys’ and into the kitchen. Lyla came bounding in and said “Good Morning!” clear as a bell! It came to me like a song sung sweetly. Lyla says all sorts of things these days. I have been “Honeybee” since Lylas’ infancy all because of a silly rhyme I concocted that made her laugh . . every time. Of course, Lyla has called me “Bee” for a while. Since then, she has learned to say “Honey” and so now she has dropped “Bee”.
We had toast and coffee and then Jenny had an assignment to complete, so Lyla and I took to strolling. It became hot quickly and only a “now and then” breeze blew. Young rabbits are all over the village, now. We had several close encounters on Saturday morning.. When a rabbit knows it is being watched, it becomes as still a statue. Lyla, when spying a rabbit, does the same thing. She says to me “shhh” and she will want to watch him for as long as he allows-which is really a good while. Sometimes, I secretly wish for a nice “clap of thunder” or a noisy blue jay to happen by, on such occasions.
The lemonade stand was closed by the time we crossed the little bridge in Riverside, and so we stopped by the banks of the “laughing river”. The water was still, because of the “now and then” breeze. Somewhere I heard some little boys splashing and laughing. I could tell they were a long ways off as their voices were faint. This is July, I thought, when children are unencumbered and this is what they do with their liberty. I found it beautiful to think about.
The air changed, as Lyla and I sat on the grass by the river. It felt wonderful, but the sky darkened and I knew we best head home. Lyla laughed as the wind became strong and constant. Thankfully, the banks of the Pasquotank, are just a few minutes from the house. We had not been back too long when a storm arrived with thunder, lightening , wind and heavy rain. We all went out on the porch to watch. The willow tree bowed low in the gales. Its’ tendrils were flung wildly and harshly, about . The willow is known for its’ graceful beauty, but that night the young willow battled like a warrior. On Sunday morning, the willow stood proudly, with no sign of “wear and tear”, and I was glad, as Jenny especially, loves the willow.
I did not rise so early on Sunday morning. All of the work of the past few weeks, seemed to have caught up with me-and besides that, it rained most of the night. Under such circumstances, I slept quite soundly, and right through , what I call, “the early service”, which is dawn.
After breakfast, Lyla and I headed out, in the cool of morning. Zinnias are blooming everywhere. Zinnias are reliable friends. They bloom til the first frost and discourage pests that spoil picnics -and eat your tomatoes. I planted some at the rabbit patch, ten years ago and they have returned faithfully ever since. Tansy is blooming now, too. I have some of those , given to me by Miss Susie. The particular variety she gave me smells like honey. I have always admired Miss Susies’ yard. She grows all sorts of flowers, so something is always blooming. I just recently saw an arrangement she created and it was as pretty as any I have ever seen.
As Lyla and I walked the sidewalks of “Riverside” we came across a stretch strewn with the bright pink petals of the oldest crepe myrtle, I have ever seen. It looked like the aftermath of a small parade. Lyla said “wow!” in a hushed voice and like her “Honey” . . .clapped her hands in delight.
Dear Diary, I am glad for cool mornings. I am glad for the strength of a young willow and the pink rain of blossoms from an old crepe myrtle. I am glad for silver water and flowers that smell like honey. I am glad that a young rabbit and a mighty river too, reminded me sometimes . . . I just need to “Be still”.
I am still so very glad to be back at the “morning table” writing in the diary . . .but it is long past morning as I write this. My favorite time to write, is early morning, but on this fair day, I was on the front porch in the early morning, with yet another bucket of paint in my hand. How I ever expected it to be finished in a day, is beyond me. That was a “lofty notion”.
Of course, I did not take into account, that the ceiling was so dirty and needed cleaning. I did not factor in that the front door needed painting, either. The house itself looked shabby with all of the fresh paint-and so I painted the walls. I had to move a small stack of wood back to the woodshed, as spring came so early and late October is a good ways off. The more I painted, the better it looked and that inspired me, in spite of my weariness. Thankfully, the porch is shaded and today, a cool breeze was blowing. Cash, my dog, walked twice through an area not yet dry, but I took it in stride . . .because of that breeze, I think.
I have all of ten days, before an appraiser visits the rabbit patch. I will be in Elizabeth City for several days, starting tomorrow. The whole while, I was working, I made a list, mentally, of what else ought to be done. The more I thought of someone “inspecting” the house, barns and property, the more anxious, I became. I imagined a person with a clipboard, writing every transgression and saying , after great thought -“Run for your life!” To calm myself, I repeated. “Look at the birds of the air” and “Consider the lilies”. I called Jo Dee on a “break” and she cheered me on. She was certain that “all was well” and convinced me of that.
When a shower arrived, I came in to the old house and did housekeeping chores. On the way to the back door, I noticed the yard looked just awful. With the mower in the shop, I needed to hire someone again. I tried not to think about how much money, I have spent on paint this month. There is a lot to do, still. I couldn’t have had a garden, if I wanted to this year.
The appraiser was very clear that the house should be as sparse as possible, so I started packing away some lovely dishes with roses, that I use in the spring. They have a special cupboard for display, so now that “cupboard is bare”. I have some beautiful Christmas ornaments stored in pretty boxes on an armoire , that I packed away, too. I know full well that I may be right here at Christmas- and Easter -and the appraiser is going to have lots to complain about, anyway-but dishes with roses and pretty boxes will not “be on the list”.
As I packed and “considered the lilies” I heard a mower. I went out and lo and behold, my neighbor, Susan, was mowing the rabbit patch. All of my weariness flew right out of me, when I saw her. When she saw me, I was clapping my hands and “happy as a lark”. I almost cried with relief. The “lawn” at the rabbit patch takes hours to mow. It is no small affair. When you get behind on the mowing, days make a difference in whether you need a mower . . .or a tractor. How lovely the property looked when she was finished. I thanked her several times. I suspect, she was unaware of the difference she had made in my heart. Somehow, that act of kindness renewed my hope. I did not tarry long, but instead went right out to finish the porch. Supper was going to be scant . . .and late.
Dear Diary, I am glad for things that comfort-words that calm, a cool breeze, when I am weary and kind neighbors that are gracious enough to help out when needed. I am glad for dependable friends that convince you “all is well.” I am also glad for birds . . .and lilies.
At last, I am back at the “morning table” writing an account of life on the rabbit patch. I have not written in the diary for a week-and “something felt missing” because of it. It surprised me to find out, that I have become so accustomed to the internet. While we were waiting for a new line to be installed, I collected all sorts of questions. The topics ranged from “african violets” to “sea glass.” I also wondered how everyone was faring. I care for the people that read the diary and consider them “friends” though I would not recognize many faces. I do not know what sort of houses they dwell in, yet I “know them by heart”. It is a beautiful thing to consider, I think.
My son, Tres got quite a bit accomplished on his weekend visit. I say again, without shame, that he is wonderful. I have been painting-again. The awnings are a cheerful sight, with their red and white stripes. I have only a few minutes of work left. and then it will give me great pleasure to put that ladder back in the barn. I am halfway through the floor of the porch. I ran out of paint and so must go get some more, today. Oh, what a difference paint makes. A freshly painted porch with geraniums, is a pleasant place to abide. I painted flower pots for zinnias at the back door. When the appraiser comes, I hope they take notice of my efforts.
Keeping the yard mowed has been difficult this year. My mower has been “in the shop” quite a bit. Still, the rose -of -sharon bushes are doing their part-and the mimosa blooms, making the air so sweet. The roses are reliable and so are the hydrangeas. If charm makes a difference, then the rabbit patch, should have no fear of the formality of an appraisal. I cling to that-but Tres and Will are experts at keeping me grounded in such matters. Geraniums do little to impress them, nor does the peach tree with peaches hanging in abundance, Will and Tres look at beams and windows. Still, I hope that things like old trees, do make a difference.
Butterflies are all over the rabbit patch, these days. It is hard to be grumpy when the air is full of brightly colored wings fluttering about. Butterflies are friendly and apt to say hello as I toil in the awful heat. They especially love zinnias and “butterfly bushes “. I made up my mind yesterday, to plant for the butterflies wherever I dwell, in the future. I never caught butterflies in my childhood. I never wanted to, fearing I would cause harm to them. The world does not need one less butterfly. When, I go back to Elizabeth City, I plan to find butterflies for Lyla.
In July, the early morning light is soft and the air is damp and cool. I walked out the other morning and a mist was hanging over the field. The whole territory was still and silent. The air bore the scents of blooming things. I remembered being young on the farm. Work started early, but no matter how early, you weren’t going to escape the southern heat. By late morning, it was hot.
In July you can smell corn growing, when the sun shines on it. You can smell rain long before you see it. You can smell a patch of watermelons, too. Old people said they could smell snakes, because snakes smell like watermelon. If you smelled watermelon out of season, it was a bad sign. I do not know if this is so, as the scent of watermelon, caused me to leave from wherever I was, just in case, it proved true.
The other night, I went out to say good night to the world. I always do so. I think of what I am grateful for and say a prayer of thanksgiving. I lift any sorrows to somewhere north of the moon -just like Lylas’ bubbles, I imagine them disappearing when they reach the heavens. In July, there are millions of stars in the night sky. To stand in “star light” is like standing by the ocean. I feel small, but far from insignificant. I feel humbled, yet, one with the “Mighty Author” of life. I think “The Heavens really do declare His glory” and I know . . I must show Lyla the stars, too.
Dear Diary, I am glad for July, when the world is full of butterflies and stars come out in great numbers. I am glad for the cool shade of old trees and friends that “I know by heart.”
My furlough in Elizabeth City is coming to an end this weekend. I will travel back to the rabbit patch, where things need fixing and the territory needs mowing. I will abide in the presence of woodlands and in the absence of sidewalks, once I go home. I have missed Kyle and Christian-and the animals. I am sure by now, that my cat, Christopher Robin, is holding a grudge. He is inclined to be judgemental when I abandon the rabbit patch for more than a few days.
It is always hard to say good bye, after wonderful visits with any of my children-this time was as well. I had slipped into a routine in the week. Morning strolls with Lyla and then again in the later afternoon, sometimes-and sharing meals. Jenny and I had leisure conversations on the front porch. We talked about flowers and recipes. We talked about our hopes and made wishes . . we just talked about everything.
I have so many sweet memories of the week. On our walk, yesterday, a gentlemen asked me “if I knew what time it was?”. Of course I will not be encumbered with a watch. I paused and said after great thought, that it was “sometime in June.” I made a note, to verify that, when I got back to Jennys’, as July seemed due to arrive at any minute-and that meant bills would need to be paid . . again. Lyla and I walked that day til we were hungry, as is our habit.
One evening Will blew bubbles and Lyla chased them. What a cute sight that was. When one would escape over the fence, Lyla would say “it got away!” That same evening, I told Will and Jenny, the story of Lyla saying I love you to a cat. When Jenny was taking Lyla in for a bath, Lyla stopped at the top step to the porch. She turned and pointed at me and said “I love you”. Now that was the “icing on my cake”. She immediately did the exact same thing to Will, so we could neither complain any longer about that-or anything else either. Speaking of cake. . .Lyla loves it. Jenny is a sensible mom and does not want Lyla expecting a cake on a regular basis. I had found a recipe for a cake that used flax meal and fruit. I asked Jenny about fixing a “C-A-K-E”, spelling it out. Lyla chimed in and said “A-B-8-9”. These are some of things I pondered as I was packing my bag.
Tres called as I was gathering my belongings and said he was coming home. Now that made a nice difference. He wanted to finish the rabbit patch “roof repair”, which has gone on long enough now to be considered a plague. I do hope the day comes soon, that when Tres comes home, it is to eat home cooked meals and sit on the porch. He has been so diligent in concluding the ruckus at the rabbit patch. He comes in like a hero and restores order . . and in the process, restores my hope. I feel that this is the way Tres points at me and says “I love you”.
Around noon, I headed home. I cross three rivers and I pass through several small towns. on the way back. There are some large fields of corn along the way and I noticed the corn was “tasseling” So it is July, I thought. I drove up to the rabbit patch. The tiger lilies are blooming and the grass needs mowing, I noted. Kyle and Christian had kept the old farmhouse in good order. Only, a few dishes needed washing, but the laundry was done. Most things were in their proper place. Cash, my boxer was especially glad to see me. Even Christopher Robin could not “put on airs” but for so long. Tres drove up within the hour and that made the reunion, all the better.
Almost immediately, the boys got to work. My sons cast the shadows of young men, I notice as they cut new wood. I hear them discussing how to proceed using a language that I can not make heads nor tails of. They spend their own money on the supplies, though I argue about that-so, I decide, we are having fried green tomatoes and sweet corn for supper, as I know they love both.
As I write this, there is sawdust in the house. . .again- and, I will need to buy more paint. I want to complain awfully bad- but I can’t.
Dear Diary, What beautiful moments made up the week. I am glad for the miles , walked by a laughing river, with Lyla. I am glad for boys who grow into noble young men and little girls, who grow up to be good mothers. I am glad for June, when the tiger lilies bloom and time is not so dull as to be measured by clocks.