I did not miss the early service this morning. I was picking peaches in a light morning rain, when day came to the rabbitpatch. It is Sunday, after all and it would not be right if I did not have a peach cobbler for dessert. I did get about a half dozen of the white peaches to mix in with the yellow. I do not know much, but I do know that picking fruit and vegetables -and flowers has got to be good for you. What a far cry this work is from the high stress of most kinds of employment. Peach trees do not not quarrel with you or demand more . . .or else. It is hard to think of anything, but the task at hand, during the moments you are collecting bounty from nature. It is such a lovely thing to gather fruit and flowers, in the morning. As it turns out, I am not an expert at anything, but I do know that, while I was picking the peaches, all was well in my world.
I decided on lasagna for our main course. July remains surprisingly, cool enough to have such a dish. I had the sauce simmering not long after I came back with the peaches. Peeling fruit is not the same as picking it is, for me. Maybe because there is no chance a robin will fly by, or that a butterfly will land on the counter, but for some reason I sort out all kinds of things as I am peeling anything. I practically knew how to raise my children because I peeled potatoes, regularly.
The rabbit patch kitchen was an especially happy place on this Sunday. Mama and Daddy came. . .and so did Jenny and Lyla. Kyle was home this Sunday too. Lyla was content to stay at the table as she has yet to warm up to Cash, my boxer. Cash is completely unaware of this predicament. Lyla sang songs for us and then played with ribbons, while we talked.
By the time everyone left, the familiar humidity of every July, I have ever known, settled over the territory. When I gathered a bouquet, this morning, I noticed the wicked vines had taken full advantage of my two week holiday. In light of the humidity, I opted to do battle with the vines . . .tomorrow.
By late afternoon, thunder rumbled a warning in the distance. I had to turn a lamp on by five o’clock. Not long after , it started to rain. The yard is a mess, though the rabbitpatch is “on high ground” Hardly ever does water stand in this yard. On the few occasions, it has, a hard rain had fallen – and quickly. We have had hot dry summers here. About five years ago, not a drop fell, the whole summer. It was hard to grow tomatoes, that year.
If I had an umbrella, I would keep it handy . . for it was raining again at the early service this Monday. . . and rain is in the forecast for tomorrow as well. July is masquerading as if it were May! Under such conditions, I must do housekeeping . . .again. I am down to three small junk drawers to clean out. . .and I have been working steadily on the freezer . . just in case the sell of the rabbit does come to fruition. The yard remains in an awful and forlorn shape. It looks as sad as it does in February. It seems I may have to resort to donning a raincoat to change that .
I pulled the first drawer out, which is really my own collection of things that just do not seem to belong anywhere. There are also the things I happened to be holding when a pot was boiling over. The most of the trinkets were pens and pencils, spare reading glasses, a few ribbons and notepads. There was a key that goes to one of the doors, to be figured out, later. I found a drivers’ license, now twenty years old. . . and then I found the seeds.
They were packaged in little envelopes, with hand written explanations of their contents. There were two varieties of holly hocks and delphiniums too . The friend that gave these to me died suddenly last summer, in her sleep. There were no warnings of any health concerns. She just died and was about my age. We had been friends over a decade. In the time I knew her, she had given me gifts on a regular basis. The gifts were seeds and cuttings often. Sometimes I got a book- I have a nice collection to prove it, but most often she gave me verses, quotes and poetry written on index cards. Many times, the words fit my needs in an uncanny fashion. I was always shocked at how the words rang true at the precise moment.
She was one of the first that implored me to write. She would not let it alone. When at last I took the leap – and I was so very fearful – she declared the earth was applauding.
Her wisdom was a quiet one, that ran deep. This was undeniable, when you heard her speak, yet she spoke it as gently and humbly, as I have ever heard. She was a very private and independent soul and eluded any attention, as if it were a plague. This is why I will not divulge her name, though it was a lovely one.
These seeds will be planted at the next rabbit patch, I thought, while I grieved her all over again. Leave it to me to commence to crying, while cleaning out a junk drawer, but it is quite overwhelming to have brushed shoulders with such a remarkable human . . and to have called her “friend”. I felt so incredibly blessed as I held the the little envelopes.
Thankfully, there was that freezer to tackle, and surely this job, would not break, my heart, for a second time today. Within an hour, the food was transferred to the refrigerator freezer. I did leave a few items that really did not require freezing. I am in the habit of buying things on sale. I freeze odd things like corn meal, peanut butter and chocolate chips, to name a few. I am quite diligent about not wasting food, as it seems sinful, to me, and so I took great satisfaction that not one parcel was wasted. I turned the freezer to its’ lowest setting and decided to make cookies. I can not help if it is pouring rain again hindering the yard work – and in some pleasant way, using the chips does aid my cause.
Kyle came in early, due to the rain. The cookies lent a nice aroma to the kitchen and he noticed it right off. As has been my habit as of lately, of cooking things “out of season” , I put on a pot of dried beans, for supper. I have a little ham which will pair well with the beans.
I listened to a wonderful lecture about quantum physics (on a very elementary level) and then read how this could be applied to our spiritual life. It made me think a lot. I do not require science to believe in prayer, but I find it very interesting when an expert in science can link the two subjects. We have all been conditioned to believe that science and spirituality are almost opposites – -or at least present conflict. What if that were not so? As much as I was intrigued, I was glad to get back in the kitchen and think about beans.
The rain may have kept me house bound, physically, but work got done and I visited an old friend from a time now passed. . .who seemed to reach back to this world, with one more gift, to cheer me on. I entertained some lofty notions that somehow propelled my thoughts and made me consider, more greatly, the wonder of God.
It was late in the evening when I drove up to the rabbit patch, yesterday. The sun looked like a tangerine as it sunk behind the trees, blackened by its’ light. Everyone showed up for my homecoming. Kyle and Christian helped unload the car while my boxer, Cash danced about playfully. Christopher Robin, my cat trotted up with a cheerful greeting and I felt sorry I had expected far less from him. Christopher Robin can be quite uppity, if I am gone too long to suit him. I had missed everybody and “made no bones about it”.
I found the rabbit patch tidy, mostly. There was some questionable dishes in the refrigerator to sort out and some laundry, but I wasn’t about to tackle one task this day. The grass needed mowing, but it had been two weeks, after all. A big branch from the pecan tree, fell shortly before my arrival , blocking the driveway. A sycamore tree followed suit and dropped another branch. Mind you these are not the size of branches that make delightful little garden fires. But, I was home, safe and sound . . and that was what mattered .
I only caught the “tail end” of the morning service, the next day. I am afraid I woke late, with a lot of thoughts, as well, which only hinder morning devotions. Thankfully, the mimosa is still blooming and the beautiful fragrance snuffed out a portion of my complicated notions. The song of the mockingbird didn’t hurt, either. The pines whispered tenderly and slowly but surely, a sense of peace did abide.
By nature, I am quite level headed. If there is a calamity, I usually have immediate clarity, though I may faint when it is all over. I do not tend to worry – now that I am older, as I did in my youth. . .but this is an odd season for me, for I am older. I am selling the rabbit patch. There is a sweet young buyer, who appreciates this beautiful country life and so I can rest assured the rabbit patch will be in good hands. I am not concerned about down sizing, but instead welcome the chance. . .and truthfully I need this change. I do not yet know where the next rabbit patch will be. The new school year lurks just around the corner and Jenny is having a baby in September. This is a lot of business.
Now any one of these things mentioned, demands some thought. I do not believe for one minute, that the path before me is not lovingly prepared, nor that I will walk it alone. This brings me great comfort, . . . but I am convinced, that like “Thomas” I too am blurting out, “Show me the scars!” At least that is how I have felt recently. I must sound quite trifling now. I keep reminding myself of that verse . . .”We walk by faith and not by sight.” But goodness, I am more curious than any cat ever dared to be. I must “practice what I preach” for I always say, things do not have to make sense. God does not work as humans, with paper and pencil, calculating the odds – and thankfully so. The “odds” change dramatically, when God is present.
As I have said before, I have never really planned anything, with much success. I have been horribly shocked with things I did not see coming and immeasurably blessed by beauty I could not have seen in my wildest dreams.
The truth is, I never intended on becoming a violin teacher. . .yet that is what fed my children. I bought a house, once, because I needed a car title notarized and happened to be in the right place at the right time. I never even meant to buy the rabbit patch, in the first place, but one door after another opened for me, without any effort on my part. Choosing “the road of least resistance” has never been my strong point. I thought about all of this in the shade of a sycamore tree, for a good while and then decided to go in and clean the stove. Things will work out as they ought to, I told myself.
The peaches are ripening at the rabbit patch. I have several things that I want to make – like tarts and cobblers. I have two varieties of peach trees. One is a white peach. The fruit never gets very large or soft, but they make the best cobblers. It takes at least a peck of them to make a cobbler. I have only seen the white peach trees on old homesteads, like the rabbit patch. The first homestead , I lived on had two of them and that is when I discovered a “white peach cobbler” was worth the time and trouble.
I did do a bit more cleaning out. I am really down to the “short rows” now. I used to hear this phrase a lot as a child. When you re working in a field, there are the long rows in the middle and short rows along the edges. When we were down to the “short rows” our spirits were lifted, at the prospect of finishing . Someone would always shout “we are down to the “short rows!” I love remembering how my people talked.
There are a few minor repairs left before the appraiser comes. Will, my “son in heart” is a banker and does not expect the process to go so quickly. Time will tell, as it always does.
I have a dear friend, that was in the midst of a crisis, a few years ago. She explained to me her quandary. It was an awful mess and something she had no control over. I asked her what she was going to do and she said, “I am going to make pickles.” I was shocked and she explained that since pickles take a few days to process, she would be quite busy. By then, she hoped “things would be better.” She had to make pickles on more than one occasion, but things did get better. We still laugh about her reasoning, but I declare, there is some wisdom in her method.
In light of this, I plan to busy myself with peaches -and then apples . . and Sunday Dinners. . . for I have never been able to make good pickles.
Rain continues to fall and there is “water, water everywhere”. The streets are flooded on the corner by Jennys’ house, so much that folks now resort to driving down the quiet lane, where the lilies grow. The laughing river takes on a hue of lavender, when the sky is pewter . The landscape is doused with the muted colors and is the epitome of tranquility.
On these days, lamps shine through the windows of cottages and estate homes, as well. It is a cozy and cheerful effect. The air is cool enough to make me want to put a pot of soup on. What an odd year of weather, it has been. Never have I thought about soup in July! As a matter of fact, Jenny and I were talking yesterday, about how our tastes change with the seasons. I love gingerbread, but not until after the first hard frost, do I attempt to make it.
By late afternoon, the city had sanctioned off the street in front of the house. Will and Jennys’ property, is on high ground, but the sidewalk and the street were covered in a pool of river water. Lyla asked to play in the rain, as children will do, so Jenny got her the appropriate gear and off she went. There is something about summer rain and children . . .there always has been. I remember being allowed to play in rain, as long as it wasn’t thundering out. We were told to stay away from the ditches, at all cost, though for we were likely to get the “ditch itch”. I suspected then, there was no such thing, and “google ” has confirmed it. The ditches were close to the road and of course did hold a substantial amount of water compared to the puddles in the yard. The fear of the “ditch itch” kept us cautious -and out of the country road. My own children played in rain, if conditions were right. They came in muddy and had to go straight to the bath, for they were country children. . . but to them it was worth it. As a young girl, I caught rainwater to rise my hair. Rain water softens hair, I can state with certainty. Now I catch rainwater for my house plants.
Lyla stood very still under an umbrella for the longest while, gazing in to the rain. The rain fell in sheets around her, but she was as still as a statue, watching it fall. It was a new experience for her and it it seemed very important. I watched her absorbing the event of a torrential downpour. I wouldn’t have interrupted her, for love or money, in those moments. Children still love rain. . .hopefully, they always will.
The world looks different under such conditions, and it is the business of humans to understand their world. We start in childhood, when the sense of wonder is ignited by things like rain. If we do not take caution, we become distracted and detached from life in its’ purest forms. Then, we are just working to “keep the lights turned on” or contemplating purchases. We think of such mundane things like status. How very dull. I think of the verse “become as little children”, as I watch Lyla twirling her umbrella and catching raindrops on her tongue. Could it be that at least partially, the meaning of this verse, might elude to our maintaining the natural curiosity we are born with . . . of things like rain? It seems reasonable to me, for heaven made things also, naturally provoke the heart to well up in gratitude. . .and that can’t do a bit of harm.
It rained heavily most all afternoon. I ended up making a pot of soup, after all. It did make a suitable supper . . .even for July.
Thursday dawned, much like the days before it. . . with rain. With the street in front of the house being flooded, the porch was a quiet place to sit. There was a slight commotion in Miss Thelmas’ yard.
Miss Thelma is Jennys’ 94 year old neighbor. She and I became fast friends, not long after Will and Jenny moved to this house. I was sitting on the porch, when a lovely lady with long silver hair made her way slowly across the street. She brought a bag of chocolate and said she had just come to welcome her new neighbors.
She spoke eloquently with a gentle voice, as she told me her best friend, Edith had lived in this house for many years. Not long after that day, I carried Miss Thelma some cookies and that was the beginning of our friendship. Now I visit with her when I come to Elizabeth City. I feel like I too, knew Edith now. Miss Thelma and her husband live in a huge house, alone. Mr. Ellis is 96 years old and bedridden. Miss Thelma feeds the birds and that was what all the commotion was about this morning.
I suppose since, it was raining, Miss Thelma was late for “the breakfast”. Birds of all variety were swooping around her front door, for that is where she sits to ration out bread crumbs and fruit. This morning a male cardinal stationed himself in the nearest branch to the porch. A pair of doves, were beneath him, in the wet grass. A small flock of sparrows fluttered back and forth, perpetually. They were responsible for most of the commotion. I do like an early morning ruckus, of this sort.
Between showers, the day was sultry. I planned to walk by the river, but showers sprung up at the “drop of a hat” and so it was better to stay in and tell stories. We read books and Lyla built towers, when she wasn’t pretending to be somebody else.
For the first time in a week, the early serviced was bathed in a bright, golden sunshine. There was a soft breeze blowing and the clouds looked like a strand of of pearls, and very much out of reach. The water covered streets were reduced to mere puddles. Folks were out walking their dogs again, and riding bikes. Miss Thelma fed her birds on time and so the little village was back to its’ usual state of peacefulness.
Today, I return to the rabbit patch. They say “All work and no play” didn’t do Jack a bit of good. I suppose “all play” isn’t a virtue either and I have done a good deal of playing. I will leave with a storehouse of memories, though I do not expect Lyla to take my departure any better, because of it. On the other hand, her youngest uncles will be glad to see me. Cash, my boxer, will gallop wildly around the territory and Christopher Robin, my sweet gray cat, will do his best to snub me, but his purring will give away his joy at seeing me.
Lyla joined me on the porch and in an attempt to soften the fact that I was leaving, I mentioned to her that I would leave this afternoon. Her little eyes teared up and she got quiet. After a brief silence, she said, “Before you go, shall we gather some leaves from the garden?” oh . . “Parting truly, is such sweet sorrow”.
On Saturday, I woke to the sound of a friendly rain. I love to wake on a silver morning with a gentle rain falling, especially, if I have no further obligation, than to listen to the watery song. I always think of my friend Rae, when it rains, for she is every bit as fond of a rainy day, as I am. Rain gives us permission to cancel things like yard work and other bothersome tasks.
There was a powdery mist over the laughing river today. The water looked milky and I had not seen it look that way before. It felt like a discovery of something beautiful, that was new to me. I always like seeing a new kind of beauty . . as much a I like a familiar thing of beauty, too.
All day, the air was wet in some form or fashion. After the early morning showers, mist followed, then it would “sprinkle” and finally it would rain again. Lyla had her heart set on a picnic and the front porch just would not do on this day. She wanted a “real” picnic in the grass. Will tried to convince her that the grass and yard were soggy, but Lyla did not take it well. Jenny resorted to calling Santa Clause. Apparently there is number to hear a recording when such an occasion arises. Lyla stated her full name and told him “just don’t come . I don”t want to be good !”
It would do us all good to remember that Lyla is but three years old. Three year olds do not “put on airs”. They act upon their feelings quite honestly. The “high road” does not often appeal to three year olds . . .it does not always appeal to me either . . .at first sight. . .but rest assured, we will all do our best to lead Lyla to the “high road”, until it becomes a habit, hopefully.
We ended the day with a good supper, while the rain was still falling.
I was late for the early service this Sunday morning. The sun was shining brightly and cardinals were flying, by the time I went out. As often happens, a verse popped in my head. It first came to me while we were on our holiday. It came up again as I greeted the day, when the sun was a blazing lemon drop. It is a favorite of mine from Corinthians . . “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” The verse stayed with me through breakfast and echoes now no matter what task is at hand.
This has happened to me countless times. Verses will come to me and it always turns out, some event arises, that demands some action. The verses ring true and supply exactly what is required to proceed. Of course, being away from the sea, I have become human again, after all and with that, a looming sense of curiosity of the path before me. It is time to return my focus to the rabbit patch, still in need of a few small repairs, and mean while the summer slips by stealthily much like a “thief in the night”. One thing, and maybe one of the few things, I am certain of , is that a “new season is on the horizon”. How far off, I can not tell. We can never know all of the details of life. That would not require an ounce of trust and how would our faith increase under such circumstances? If all the answers were laid before us, what profit would that be? If we could prepare accordingly to whatever may come up, then we would never need to rely on God, which would be dreadful, in the long run. We would miss out altogether on what may very well, be the intent of our earthly journey. It seems whether or not we admit it, that we must all “Walk by faith and not be sight.”
Not being an expert or a “master” of religion, I can only, say these are some of my thoughts, as of lately. . . and I am not through thinking just yet, nor will I ever be in this lifetime.
Lyla and I made strawberry brownies in the late morning. We listened to the “Brandenburg concertos” as she mixed the chocolate batter and I sliced the strawberries. Somewhere along the way, Lyla wanted to call Santa, for she’d had a change of heart .
The afternoon stole lazily away. A stray shower sprung up ever so often followed by a hot, bright sunshine. I talked to Kyle and Christian, who assured me that all was well at the rabbit patch. My sons have not starved, as I always fear they will, when I am away. At long last, the roof is finally and completely finished. Cash, my boxer and Christopher Robin, my cat are fine. I am sure by now, that Christopher Robin is holding a grudge. He does not know that I saw a shell, on the shore, in soft shades of gray, and missed him, sorely.
In the evening I sat outside. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the passing clouds seemed in a hurry. A cool breeze was blowing and it felt like September. I remembered my grandmother, for it was the anniversary of her death. Grandmama died young, at the age of 52. It has been 49 years since her passing. I was ten years old, yet I remember her voice, even now. She died one night suddenly and the shock of it remains to this day. Christian asked me once, if I still missed her and I cried, for I have never quit missing her. In ten years, she made an impression on me, that has lasted. No one is ever going to talk about any “business” deal for 49 years nor are we likely to mourn the loss of any possession, no matter how extravagant, for a half century . . .but love, never leaves us, and I am convinced it must become a part of us, maybe in a physical sense.
I sat there, with the wind blowing thinking, we ought to never under estimate the power of our contribution to this world. . . and we are all contributing. Maybe we do not realize that the mark we leave will ever matter. I am certain my grandmother had no idea that I would remember my life with her on the little farm, years ago. . .but I do. . .and the memories occupy me and implore me to love as she did. Grandmama left me “well off” . . .and that has made a difference.
What beautiful memories I am collecting during these days by the sea. The sun comes up in a “blaze of glory” to start the day. There are no old trees to cast shade, and so the light gilds everything in gold. The sand sparkles, and the water glistens as much as any opal ever dared to. That is what the morning looks like.
By noon, the sun is the color of butter and the ocean along the shore is a pale jade that steadily increases in depth, til it is aqua, then turquoise and at last a cobalt blue where it meets the horizon.
Lyla is not fooled by the call of the happy ocean to come and play. She gazes as I do, and is every bit as charmed, but keeps a safe distance, from the churning, beckoning water. Lyla digs in the sand and draws pictures with her little fingers. She lays sea shells out in patterns and is constantly filling her buckets with sand, only to dump them in a few moments, and start again. She is working – and takes it very seriously. No matter how “toys” have changed, childhood remains the same. Children love to play in dirt, no matter the variety of it. It is a reassuring fact for me.
I feel the same way about the sand, as I do the delicate shells. Maybe it takes a thousand colors to make a handful of sand and no scoop is the same as another. The shore changes with the crest of every wave, and every gust of the constant sea breeze. In this way, the sea is always a modern landscape, yet remains ancient, as well.
On Tuesday, the sisters came – Miss Claudias’ sisters, Julia and Mary Ruth. Mary Ruths’ daughter, Missy came too. I always enjoy gatherings with the sisters as they are a lively and friendly lot. It does my heart a world of good to see a loving family, in action. They tell stories of remembered times and what a treasury they have collected. We have been hearing about the breakdown of the “American family” for a long while and sadly, it has some truth. . .but in the case of these sisters, they are doing their part to rid the world of such “speculation”. I think what this will mean for Lyla. I hope Lyla will hear their stories and will one day, know them by heart, for they are her stories too, really. I think it is a wonderful realization, to know all the love that brought us to life.
Brant and Sydney came on Thursday. Brant is my oldest child. How good it was to see the ocean with him too. Brant has been working on the rabbit patch and made all sorts of progress. He had barely got his things unpacked, when he started on a few projects here, at the cottage. This is his way. Brant loves to help others in whatever way he can. Wherever he lives, the senior neighbors find out he will carry their groceries in or move heavy furniture. I do not take this lightly. Very few people truly devote their life to giving to others, and do not need praise nor recognition . Very few people tackle humble tasks with such zeal, for the sheer satisfaction of serving others. It is a form of nobility and nothing less.
Though the cottage hosted a full house -(there were eight of us in all), it never felt crowded to me. Lyla followed her cousin Mia, around like a mid day shadow. Miss Claudia nearly glowed, at having both of her children, Will and Mary, under the same roof. At times, we were all together, and at times we were quite separate. It was a nice balance and the time flew by as it always does, when you are having fun.
Friday came quickly to me . . .and with it, a “schedule”. Brant and Sydney left early, for they both had to go back to work. I immediately missed them and started feeling that something beautiful was ending. After breakfast, everyone gathered their things. The coffee canister was empty and I had all but finished reading my book. Both events seemed fitting, given it was our last morning there. The refrigerator was cleaned out, cars were loaded and good byes were said .
Soon we were back in the world, where yards were green and had old shade trees. . . . and a laughing river tumbled by. Zinnias brightened the sidewalks and ever so often there was a roadside stand, selling things like cucumbers and watermelons. Rain clouds had gathered overhead as Jenny had said they would. The air no longer smelled of salt but held the familiar, sweet, green smell of inland summer. .. and I supposed, somewhere, someone was frying pork chops.
The last few days have been a “far cry” from the usual routine of most of my days. On Saturday, Jenny, Lyla and I left the ” inland” to spend a week at the beach. Will and Miss Claudia were just behind us and carrying as many provisions as we were. A lot of things happen in a week, so we all packed accordingly.
Elizabeth City is less than a hour from the Atlantic Ocean. Miss Claudias’ sister, Mary Ruth, has a cottage that she invites us to use and for the last two years we have taken full advantage of this wonderful gift. . . of days spent by the sea.
What a different world lies, just a short ways off, from the rabbit patch. First, there is the ocean, vast and powerful. It roars and the earth roars with it. As far as one can see, there is water and we are apt to imagine the distant shores beyond . I imagine sending a greeting to my dear friend, Cobs, who lives just across the ocean. I wonder , what if the clouds passing by could tell me what they had seen as they drifted along. I look at the shells scattered in the sand, and collect a few, to keep for an hour or so. I will toss them back to their rightful home, before I leave. As I examine them and feel their slick surface, smoothed by the ages, I ponder who else might have held this same shell and where did they come across it? The ocean stirs up thoughts, as well as sand.
It does me good to know there are some mysteries left and will always remain, in this world.
The “early service”, by the sea, does not include robins and mockingbirds, nor roses, nor rabbits. I have had the company of a lovely, but shy, tuxedo cat. He watches me from a distance, and seems curious . . .but does not venture an inch closer, on any given day. He seems to be at home everywhere, but nowhere in particular. There are noisy gulls and little sandpipers gliding on the ocean breeze. Their announcement of morning seems more like an alarm, than a song.
There are no lawns, at least by my definition of a lawn. Sand is everywhere . Wild grasses grow in wispy patches and are always doubled over by the constant wind . There are some stalwart flowers, that manage to bloom, in the sandy soil . There are the brightly colored “Joe Bells”, named for a sea captain, who loved them enough to strew seeds as he traveled the coast decades ago. The lantana flowers bloom too and seem to thrive. These flowers must be quite versatile, for they also grow in the shade, along the edge of the young woods at the rabbit patch. I am very partial to the lantana. The blossoms are clusters of multicolored little flowers in lavender, pink and yellow at the rabbit patch, and have a citrusy, spicy scent. They bloom from late spring to the first hard frost, whether you fuss over them or not.
Kites fly everywhere here, almost on their own. I see them tied, to porches, unattended and left to their own devices. Lyla loves the kites, especially. Beach towels, in every hue, flap wildly, strung on makeshift lines, hanging on for dear life. On the shore, there is a trail of umbrellas in the brightest shades of every color. . . and it does not matter which direction you go, you are likely to see cottages in colors like salmon, turquoise or mint green. What a colorful place! . . . even in the absence of roses.
Having grown up on a farm, I learned how to cook pork, beef and chicken a variety of ways. I have always been satisfied with plenty of fresh vegetables as side dishes served with a slow cooked roast, yet at the beach, it seems I ought to be frying fish and potatoes. I think of what sauces could be concocted with fresh dill and lemon. One day, this week, I will try a recipe using oranges and coconut, that is a family recipe, from Miss Claudia. I think it is the salt air that puts such notions in my head, for the salt air has a specific scent. It will be the first indication, that you are approaching the coast. Chances are, you will smell the ocean, before you see it.
A typical day here varies, depending on who you are. Will and Jenny take Lyla to the beach every day, not long after breakfast. The afternoons are for napping or in my case, reading. Often, Will and Jenny take Lyla to some activity designed for tourists with children, in the later afternoon. I opted to decline any invitation, unless it involves ice cream or bakeries. Meals are light , though I am itching to “leave my mark” on this kitchen. Bacon and eggs just aren’t satisfying and sandwiches aren’t either, for such a domestic heart.
The short walk to the shore is hot. The sand burns your feet, so you must wear shoes. Only a few families share the beach with us, but in the distance it looks like a “state fair” in either direction. I like to walk down the shore. I declare a landmark, so I can keep my bearings straight, for at the ocean, distance is as sly as time. If I am in a dreamy state, as I walk, Iam liable to walk further than I meant, for there is the long trek back, to consider. . .and truthfully I am always in a dreamy state at the ocean.
I do not believe my brain can perform a single calculation, while I am gazing at the ocean. I can not think about my “shoestring budget” or selling the rabbit patch. It is as if a force of nature, such as an ocean, keeps you suspended in the moment. As I walk the path, where the ocean meets land, not a single thought will pop in my head. I notice the little shells and feel the cool spray of the heaving, curled ocean water. I listen to the waves colliding with the earth. I look at the sky and note what sort of clouds are present, but that is it. . .as far as my awareness goes. I am completely and thoroughly in a very “unworldly” trance “.
It is odd and beautiful, to traipse a crowded beach and yet feel such solitude. For while I tread through sand and sea, I have no questions . . .and that may just be the purest form of peace.
Today, started out beautifully. It isn’t as cool as it has been, but it is pleasant. It is July in the south, after all. In the peace of a lovely morning, I got a phone call. The home inspector would be here around noon. There are tools and paint in several rooms and there is a spot in the floor, in the process of being repaired. Of course, there is also the absence of any sign of housekeeping. The grass needs mowing, too.
I have never dealt with a home inspector. I am sure he is a nice person, but he sounds mighty official to me. Jenny says he may spend the afternoon and will look high and low for all sorts of issues. That is the way she comforted me. She said also, that inspectors were there to help. I decided to take her word on that. Brant moaned, when I told him and quickly called out to God.
Since, the rabbit patch was in total disarray, I started back on painting the kitchen. It was the only course of action that made sense to me. I had completed the ceiling around midnight. With the ceiling such a clean, stark white, the walls looked dingy, so I decided to paint the walls-and that meant the cabinets, too.
At some point, I had to laugh at the irony. Just a month ago, I was quite proud of the rabbit patch. Everything in place, closets and cabinets orderly-even all those wretched barns. The lawn was tidy. Flowers were blooming and birds were singing. . . That was a short lived affair.
Brant had an appointment and Christian high tailed it out of here, as he is every bit as terrified of official anything, as I am. I was on my own -and I felt stranded. I knew then and there, that we were having left overs for supper.
As it turns out, the inspector was a friendly fellow. He was not wearing a badge and he chatted like a “regular” person. He went his way and I went mine . . .back to painting the kitchen. Hours later, he drove off, telling me not to worry and that he “really liked this place”. . . .that I call “a Rabbit Patch”.
I spent the afternoon finishing the kitchen. It did make a nice difference and I was glad I had persevered. When Kyle came in, I asked him to please remove that ladder from the kitchen and far away from my sight. Now there was the clean up to get started on.
It was drizzling rain at the early service on Wednesday. It has been a while since it rained here and I was up for a rainy day. Housekeeping sounded delightful to me, after climbing a ladder for two days. Besides that, the rabbit patch is not “out of the woods” just yet, as this is the early stages of a complicated process. I expect more official visits in the future. What a lot of business! Selling a house is not for the faint of heart. . . in a lot of ways.
While I scrubbed the kitchen floor, I remembered the merry days of times past at the rabbit patch. Once upon a time, the many bedrooms were full. The kitchen table was bigger. The barn housed miniature goats and a miniature horse. There were chickens and rabbits. That was a special season, but the sons grew up,(as sons do) Grandmama passed and a hurricane turned the chicken house over. One thing happened and then another, til at last the present circumstances prevailed.
Though, I love remembering, I knew it best not to dwell too long on how things used to be. It is an awful habit of mine. I can not bear to look at old photographs for very long, for I will inevitably sink in to mourning. Knowing full well, my typical behavior, I let my thoughts wander instead, to what might be next. I hoped for a little cottage that would be lovely at Christmas. I thought of a yard that did not require a tractor, to mow. I wondered a lot, as I scrubbed. One thing I knew, whenever and wherever I go, I will plant flowers.
Eventually, the floor was clean and the kitchen was fit to cook in. I did get a fair share of housework done. As I was folding laundry, I thought, the present moments were beautiful, just as they were. . . .They always have been.