The Coldest Evening of the Year


The snow at the rabbit patch, lingers and will for at least a few days more.  Like everywhere else, it is cold here.  This is not the “holiday”, as those of the past.  The affair of a snow, is usually a short lived one, here. We have a day of snow which promptly melts within a day or so.  We have a day off, and there is just enough hours of it, for children to toss snowballs or build a snowman-and have snow cream. The next day, we all go along our merry way  for it is back to work and school.  This  time, is no ordinary holiday. . .and I am now using the term “holiday” loosely. The country landscape is full of sparkle and shine.  . .but we are not building snowmen .  The wind makes it unbearable and especially without the proper attire.

  The wood heater was cold, this morning.  I needed to clean out the ashes, which I dreaded.   Gathering wood on this morning, was not for the faint of heart.  It was less than 20 degrees when I went out, and that does not include the factor of wind. I was thankful that the snow was soft and not icy. You can believe that I collected the wood in record time , by sheer will.  Once, I had a fire going, I removed my boots and gloves, neither waterproof, to dry.  I had to check the water pump as I had awaken with a picture that flashed in my mind, of the light in the pump house.  The light provides enough heat to keep the motor from freezing.  It is of great importance and the task could not be neglected.  I am old enough now, that I do not discount “flashing pictures” and so I prepared to go back out, with almost dry boots, and slightly scorched gloves.  It was a good thing, for as  it turns out -the light was out. 

Tomorrow, the highest we can expect is eleven degrees.  I have never experienced such low temperatures for an extended period of time.   I remember one year, the temperature on Christmas eve, dropped to zero.  The children got a pony that year.  I remember a year that February was  cold every day.  Another time, a few years back, we had a day or two of air cold enough to freeze pipes, so we have had “cold spells”,  but I do not ever remember such conditions to tarry, as these do.  I had no idea, as I waited with such joyful anticipation for snow, that it would come to this.

 Saturday, the “coldest evening of this year  . . .or any year, thus far”

I woke before the early service.  The farmhouse was so cold, you could see your breath.  The heater, by my bed was off.  It was a new heater and so I read the service manual and read that the filter had to be cleaned.  While I worked, I listened to the news which confirmed my suspicion that this was the coldest, it has ever been at the rabbit patch.  It will be Monday, before it starts to thaw and I have no idea what the aftermath will look like.  Currently, the only source of water is in the bathroom.  

It was ten am, before I had the heater up and running-and a good fire in the wood heater.  I am so thankful, we have kept power.  To improve my spirit, I remembered the moonlight casting its’ glow on the snow.  How beautiful to see snow in moonlight.  I thought of children who had never seen snow-and those children that had only vague memories, to rely on.  I was glad for warm socks and soft blankets.  The kitchen is well stocked -and so is the pantry.   . .and this is a temporary condition, after all.   I also watched a documentary about a person injured on a hike and so was forced to spend several days in frigid weather.  That cured me of any gloom , I might have been conjuring up.

Tonight, is forecasted to be another record breaker-colder than last night.  It is early evening, and I am already in the warmest attire I have and under several blankets.   Cash and Christopher Robin are tucked in, too.  All of Farm Life is silent.  It has been for days.  Only a handful of vehicles have braved the elements and traveled the still hidden road. 

I suppose, we will all talk about this winter storm for years to come.  We will remember the unfamiliar temperatures and frozen water lines.  . .and I will remember those things too-but I will also remember the color of snow at sunset. . .and the shine of it, in early morning light.  I want to remember collecting wood in the stark, still winter night .   . . and eating snow cream.  I must not forget, to love the coldest evening of the year, too.





Snow Cream and Cookies


This is no ordinary day at the rabbit patch, for snow blankets the territory.  School was dismissed early, yesterday-and so all afternoon, I waited for snow.  It has been more than five years, since I have seen more than a scant dusting.  By around four o’clock, it was sleeting and I feared we would have to settle for an icy rain.  Around nine, it started snowing at last.  I was sorry not to be able to watch it fall as that is such a lovely sight, and so very rare in these parts, but I consoled myself  that “Joy would come in the morning”.  I was up by four am .

Snow was everywhere.  There was wind and it caused the snow to swirl wildly.  Such conditions are unheard of here . . and so I woke Christian.  I could not stand thinking he would miss this event.  Christian  has stopped me from kneading bread to see the moon rise and so it did not seem the least bit odd, to wake him under the circumstances.  We stayed up a while, and then went back to sleep until morning light.

Temperatures are supposed to remain just below freezing  until Monday, so I am prepared to  stay on the rabbit patch for a while.  Of course, snow does not come without a cost, it seems.  I will need to replace a pipe in the laundry room, as a chunk the size of a large egg, broke off, due to ice.  Today, the hot water is frozen up and the washing machine works when it cares to. 

Christopher Robin, does not share the enthusiasm for “the winter wonderland” that we do.  His curiosity is satisfied by peering out the windows.  Cash, on the other hand, dashed madly about and even rode a snow board!  (left over from ski trips).  Boxers are known as “eternal puppies” and Cash was living proof of that today.

It is my great pleasure to announce, that I made cookies this morning-soft cookies, that tasted  good enough to warrant second servings.  I made “tea cakes” , an old southern variety.  They are like a shortbread cookie and for a while, the kitchen smelled, like quite a baker, lived here.  I so hope, it was not “beginners’ luck”.  It just seems shameful that a “Honeybee”,  (or a grandmother) wouldn’t be a good cookie baker.

It was still snowing in Elizabeth City, when  I talked to Jenny, in the late morning.  They are likely to get some snow every winter, but not by the foot,  as they had so far. Lyla was determined to build a snowman and so Will helped her out. I am trying to muster the courage to make snow lanterns, but the wind is something fierce and very uninviting. 

I did collect snow for snow cream.  It snowed very few years in my childhood, but when it did, we made snow cream.  Snow cream is a simple concoction of snow, vanilla, cream   and sugar.   It is made according to ones’ taste and can be made by the bowl or in a batch. Powdery snow is the best kind and we were not short on supply of that, today.  I suppose all sorts of variations would work .  Honey could replace sugar-so could maple syrup and I am sure you could really add whatever your heart desired . . . but I made mine just like the kind I grew up with, today.

I always think of Frosts’ Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, when t does snow, and I did so today.   I understand  “stopping to watch woods, fill up with snow”.  It is as good a reason to stop, as I know of.  

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A Good Chance of Snow


On the first day of the brand new year, I missed the early service.  By the time I woke, the sun was up and shining.  It was a bitter cold morning, but the wind that “cut to the bone” wasn’t nearly as fierce as it had been, the last few days.  This was not the day to walk by the laughing river.  Besides, even without a kitchen, we were planning a traditional “new years’ day” ,  meal.

Jenny and I concocted a plan using all sorts of kitchen contraptions to prepare the traditional fare.  Black-eyed peas simmered in a crock pot while a pork roast, smothered with potatoes, carrots, turnips and onions roasted in an electric roaster.  Collards are the traditional green served on the first day of the year-but fresh ones just weren’t possible.  We decided on frozen and agreed we could use an electric skillet to warm them and could season them, as we saw fit.  Though it was a feasible plan, there wasn’t a single bag to be bought in the grocery, and so  canned was our only option.  I bought several cans and hoped for the best.   

With the temperature barely twenty degrees, we stayed in the house all day.  Miss Claudia (Wills’ mom) was coming, so at last, Lyla was changed into  warm and very cute  attire, in the late afternoon. The dining room, where everything was plugged in, smelled like the new years’ day meal, but all the hope I had in the canned collards, was lost, when I tried them.  They were awful and so I intended to warn the others.

Thankfully, the peas were just right and the roast with its company of vegetables was as good as any I have ever cooked. Miss Claudia is not a fan of collards and so she spared herself the burden of trying them. She did compliment everything else, which is  one reason I enjoy cooking for her.  Will and Jenny agreed with me on the poor quality of the greens, meant to bring prosperity.  We had to hope a few bites went a long way, if our financial success in the new year, depended on the amount of collards, we consumed.

By, eight o”clock, Miss Claudia was safely home, and all traces of a gathering were -as Lyla says about the Christmas tree, “lost”.  Snow is in the forecast, for several days, starting on Wednesday.   Before, I went to sleep, I hoped there wasn’t anyone without shelter, anywhere, this night.

The Second Day of the Year

I did see the early service, this day.  It was cold again.  I can not complain, as I was warm, inside Will and Jennys’ home.  Lyla woke up early and Jenny woke up with a kink in her neck.  Will had to go back to work.  Today, was the day for me to return to the rabbit patch.  Christian had “held the fort down” on his own throughout the the brutal weather.  The laundry room had frozen water lines-and Christopher Robin, the sweet gray cat, had managed to hurt his leg.  I start work tomorrow, and with snow in the forecast, I needed to make sure the farmhouse kitchen was well stocked.  Roads are not cleared in the countryside of a small, southern town.  Farmers take mercy on us, and will clear the roads, the first chance they get.  The truth is, under such conditions, the south shuts down, hence the chaos at the groceries.  We are also liable to lose power.  I certainly hope that does not happen.  The rabbit patch, does not have water, in that case.

Tonight, I saw the evening news and was quite shocked at  the national weather reports.  I can not fathom such circumstances as  fountains frozen in the act of cascading and snow piled over cars.  Here, in the south, we consider the event of snow, a winter holiday, of sorts, that occurs as often as a “blue moon”.

The drive home was sunny and bright. All three rivers I cross, were tinged with ice.  I  had dreaded the stop at the grocery, but I needn’t have, as it was just a bit more busy than usual.  I bought the ingredients for snow cream, just in case it really did snow.  When I was growing up, we were never allowed to make snow cream on the first snow, which greatly limited the chances of making any at all.  The first snow, “cleaned the air”, and so was not considered sanitary.  I am “throwing caution to the wind” and making a batch in spite of  that.

 I was glad to see Christian.  Kyle came in about an hour after  I arrived. Christopher Robin was on the mend , though the laundry room would not give a drop of water up.  I went straight a way to cooking.  I made several things that could be warmed in a pot on the wood heater, if need be.

  School is dismissed early tomorrow in lieu of the pending snow.   This will be a good time to read beautiful words and try to make cookies, as I have not attempted that since my last batch, which were barely edible.  I have bird seed.  Snow is the only event, that the country birds will visit my feeders.  If I make snow lanterns, I will try to post about that- and there is always the “snow cream”, though I have been warned about that, for generations.  I will at least wait til “the woods are filled with snow”  and the branches of the old oaks, around the farmhouse are laden, before I dare to “catch a bit of snow”.   Snow just changes everything. 

Happy New Year From the Rabbit Patch


I attended the early service in Elizabeth City, on Saturday.  I had a lot of company, for it to be such a cold winter morning.  I was greeted by a flock of redbirds.  They were a quiet lot, but how pretty they looked in the dull light of morning.  There were also robins.  A small flock of blackbirds, filled up a tree.  The blackbirds acted as a choir and sang through out the gathering.  A squirrel dashed through the yard screeching as he went.  Only, the trees and I were silent, this morning.

It has been cold, for a southern winter, since Christmas, and the forecast is that it will remain so for another week.  This kind of cold will make pipes freeze and you hope they do not burst.  I brought Jenny some olive oil yesterday, and it was frozen, as it had been in a parcel  packed,  in an unheated room, at the rabbit patch. I have watched the news,all of twenty minutes, this last week, but I did see that a bitter cold was plaguing the mid west and the north, too.  What fortitude, folks must have to endure such conditions.

Jenny  had a mission today.  She wanted all signs of Christmas, packed away.  I kept Lyla occupied, while Jenny and Will worked diligently to restore order.  I cleaned the nursery and packed away toys Lyla had outgrown, to make room for new.  . .even so, Jenny will limit the amount of new toys that go in to the collection.  Jenny is a sensible mom, and I am quite proud of that.  She insists that Lyla spend an ample amount of time, outside and that the nursery is not cluttered with too many toys.

By late morning, the nursery, was strewn and just walking through was difficult-  the truth was, you  were likely to step on a block or teacup.  Will picked Miss Claudia, (his mom) up and it was nice to be in good company, as I sorted through Lylas’  little kitchen  and her drawing desk.  

By mid afternoon, much had been accomplished.  Lyla was quite disappointed that the Christmas tree had left “without a trace”, and actually cried.  I fear she may be as sentimental as I am, for I miss Christmas, too.

I gave Lyla, “The Complete Peter Rabbit”, which contains all of Beatrix Potters’ works, including her lesser known, nursery rhymes.  Of course, I read “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”, to Lyla,  the first chance, I got.   Lyla retold the story with great animation.  She was quite saddened that Peter lost his shoes and jacket- and she did not “take a shine” to Mr. McGregor, at all. 

New Years’ Eve

The last day of the year dawned cold and bright.  I did not tarry long at the morning service, as there was a light, but chilling wind, blowing steadily- and without mercy. The same crowd attended, as yesterday, and in addition, a very blue jay.  There seemed to be a restlessness amongst them and I wondered if they knew something, I didn’t.  Nature is the truest indicator of  weather, that I know of.

Jenny and Lyla were up, not long after me. With the house now restored to its’ former glory, today, held less obligations. The kitchen  is still not  completed and so, we settled for toast and coffee, as our “breakfast of champions”. 

Today, most folks will take more than a “second look” at their life. Countless folks will vow to do all sorts of things.  The older I get, the more my goals change in content.  This year, I hope to give more generously, in whatever service presents itself.  I hope to have pure intentions that stem from a clean heart.  Oh, that I might be merciful, by habit- and grateful too.  May I be honest enough to live my own truth, for our own truth is a gift, pure and simple, designed specifically for us, I think.  I want fear to have less authority in my life.   I am not referring to a fear of things like uncontrolled fire or dangerous speed . . in those cases fear protects us.  Instead, I hope to be void of the  fear that makes  us cease to follow our intuition , limits our expectations and therefore,  hinders our faith.  I want to love more deeply and practice compassion, until it is  second nature-and I also wish to live with the earth and not against it. 

 I will probably say these same things next year, and  mean them as much as I do today -and as much as I did last year.  It bears repeating-and often.  A new year beckons and with it the chance  to understand more and to do better.  

Happy New Year from the Rabbit Patch!  love, Michele