The “early service”, was especially beautiful. The territory was washed in silver and I felt privy to something very special . In some way, I felt the silver washed over me -same as it did the sycamore tree. The air was heavy and I smelled the grapes on the ancient vine. My boxer, Cash took a few joyful laps, while my cat, Christopher Robin and I, surveyed the landscape. For a little while, the world looked different. It was a strange beauty, and so I sat there in wonderment for a while.
Mama and Daddy, were not coming to Sunday Dinner today. Daddy is still recovering from his ailment. Kyle took them soup and I made pimento cheese too. Without the event of Sunday Dinner, I went back to packing. There really wasn’t much to do, today. I can not pack up, what we use daily, so today I packed up a few small boxes of books (the last of them) and then I tackled the “business drawers”. This project would hardly move me to tears, as the dishes did yesterday.
I ended up with a bag of old receipts and mustered the courage to part with them. I am always sure that some electricity bill. kept for five years will one day be proof of my innocence or that a manual to something , long ago discarded will come in handy somehow. The “paper trail”, we use to depend on really, no longer exists, for what the computer says goes. I burned the papers, just in case, someone who doesn’t know any better, thought they would profit, by using my identity.
By mid afternoon, that task was completed and the rabbit patch was tidy again. . . unless you count the laundry room, where all the packed boxes are stored.
I called my son, Tres. Tres lives three hours away in Wilmington. I do not get to see him as often as I wish. He has a demanding job and is getting a second degree. Certainly he is ambitious – hard working and always a very devoted son. If you think I am bragging, you are right, and I “make no bones about it”. I have five children and I have not raised a perfect one yet, but thankfully, that was never my intentions. I make no apology for pointing out their strengths and cheering them on with great fervor. Once, when I was “bragging” on Lyla, Will laughed aloud at my very biased opinion. I told Will, that I was only telling the truth and besides everyone needs a devoted fan in their corner. Someone who is dependably there, through thick and thin-someone to remind them that they are valuable and worthy. Will agreed and ended up applauding my position. I had that from the adults in my family-and I am “different, because of it”.
This does not imply, that I do not clearly see, their faults. Every one of them has at least one of my own bad habits, from being impulsive or dreamy or easily distracted , etc. but, they are a wonderful lot anyway . . .
I watched the moon rise over the field. The morning was washed in silver, and the evening was bathed in gold, I thought – for the moon was deep golden, in color and for a while, the field was tinged with an amber light. It was supposed to be an especially good moon to make wishes on and so I did.
Today was Monday . . .and that changed everything. It was not just any Monday, either, for it was the first day for students. I was quite concerned about the new routine and woke at four am. . .then again at five and so on, til at last I got up at six, once and for all. I let the animals out and had a coffee, hoping to come to my senses.
I drove past the quiet pastures, past the fields of green soy beans and past the cornfields already parched to a warm shade of brown. It was a familiar route to me. I knew to watch for the yellow dog, for he crosses the road as he pleases. I know where the tractors may be , just before the shady bridge.
The day was remarkably calm and went by quickly. Before, I knew it, I was on the way home. I came in the back door, and started a load of clothes in the washer. I moved on to the kitchen and began supper. I changed to my beloved “house clothes”and picked the dress I will wear tomorrow. While the sauce simmered, I went to the herb garden to gather some chives for the butter. I disturbed more than a few butterflies, as the chives had blossoms. The tender blossoms are quite flavorful and so I collected some of those. The air had grown sultry as the hours had passed. I noticed the leaves on the oaks were fading as I made my way back to the house. . . and that is when I came across a dear patch of floss flowers, that some call ageratum. The dainty flowers are a bright periwinkle color – I can never decide if they are blue or lavender, but I love them no matter what you proclaim their color to be. They are the color of August at the rabbit patch. . .along with the lowly “swamp flowers” which are a bright yellow and the creamy ginger lilies . . .and the faded oak leaves. I am glad for August.
Somehow, the week passed until it, at last it is Saturday. During the summer, one day is much like another. They feel the same, with the exception of a Sunday -Sunday always feels like Sunday. Today feels like a Saturday.
I woke naturally, which is early, but I had no reason to make haste about anything. I had my coffee outside, in the midst of a cool and still morning. The birds must know it is the latter days of summer, for they are a quiet lot, as of lately. Now and then, I would hear a leaf fall from the old sycamore and at long last, the mockingbird sang . . . not with the exuberance he had in June- but he filled the air up for a while with a cheerful celebration, to herald the new day.
I spent some time collecting my thoughts and gathering the beauty, of the morning glory blooms. These days, I must muster fortitude, to live in the moment, for I feel like I am between two worlds, and I do not even know what lies beyond the shadow. Now truthfully, none of us know the fortune of our next day, but I have never been prone to dwell on that, as I do now. There is so much yet to be done -so I finally decided a course of action and went back in, mostly satisfied .
I put on a pot of soup to simmer as I went along. I can share some with Mama and Daddy – and clear out the refrigerator freezer, all at once. Then, I started packing. I decided books could be stored, though I left out about thirty, just in case, things continue at the steady “snails’ pace” thus far. These books will join the other boxes of books, already packed. Next I packed a box and labeled it “birds, rabbits and candlesticks”. Well, this is how it went for a while. I packed up Kyles’ green depression glass, collected for several decades and his Christmas ornaments, collected for just as long.
By noon, I had about ten boxes packed, and really had not even made a dent in the overall task. I am well aware, that theses boxes may sit a good while, but I can at least say, there is less than there was, to do. I can also say, I had under estimated the size of this job. I felt thankful, I had started.
Packing is hard on a sentimental heart. While cleaning out the china closet, I came across, Aunt Josies’ glass pickle dish. I am not partial to pickles, but that dish made me cry. Then there were the salt and pepper shakers, that Aunt Agnes brought back from Holland. That trip was the “talk of the town” as in those days, country folks did not travel, as people do now. I remember Grandma dropped the pepper shaker, and of course, it broke. I regret that I was annoyed, and the fine little crack, shamed me all over again, though I never even mentioned it, to anyone, except Mama – and so I cried about that. Brants’ little silver cup, Tres’s baby toy, which happened to be a little rabbit, pulling a cart . . all stung my eyes, til I just wanted to cry for a while. I consoled myself, that a little remembrance of those loved ones and those seasons were going with me and to take comfort in that . . .but I was so relieved to finish that china closet.
By mid afternoon, I wondered why, I had started this task with such hesitation. Clearly, even with my huge decluttering effort, packing up the rabbit patch would require a tremendous effort and a lot of time. I did decide to part with some old glass dishes, that were once used for baby and wedding showers. My dear friend, Janets’ voice rang in my ear, saying, to “let someone else know the joy of having them”,( if I did not need or love them). Somehow, I can let the dishes go, in light of that thought.
Janet and I have been friends for three decades, and I often go to her for sound advice. She can clear up a problem, I have mulled over for days, in a matter of minutes. Janet, never fails to put things in perspective and therefore is a great source of comfort. To have met her when I was young , has proven to be such a blessing, time and time again.
I did not intend to, but I packed all day. Now, I did not touch the kitchen nor our bedrooms. Those rooms will remain as they are, til further notice. There is at least two more boxes of books, that could be packed . . .I do hope the next rabbit patch has book shelves.
I had things tidy, by the time the day was slipping away. I especially love twilight. I love that time when folks come home . . and then there is the evening meal, that I call supper . . . and then there is the time after supper, when we are gathered with those we belong to.
Sometimes, that means for me, a loyal dog and a sweet cat. . .but they are good company. It is quite satisfying to see the two of them lying together and I am quite dependent on a good guard dog. On my worst days, Cash would still alert me to any thing suspicious. . .and Christopher Robin would still purr, at the sight of me. They are a dependable pair and I am glad for them – especially in the hours after supper.
The last day of my summer, was beautiful-if only it had not been the last day! The morning dawned fair and bright. Will (my son in heart) and I drank coffee on the front porch. The laughing river was a subtle shade of lavender, I noticed . The sky was silver and a pair of doves had, as I far as I could see, all of it to themselves. I suspected the rest of the early birds, were hiding in the bracken around Miss Thelmas’ front porch”, waiting for their breakfast.
Mary Carolyn”, one of Jennys’ oldest friends drove up, from her home, an hour away. It was the day of the brunch, honoring the arrival of Jennys’ new daughter, after all. Mary Carolyn does make up professionally, and so she was bound and determined to give Jenny the “royal treatment ” on her special day.
Now, the brunch was lovely and Jenny was beautiful, with happiness. Sarah hosted the event in her especially stately home. Mandy who owns Pansy & Ivy made floral arrangements, as only she can – and baked her famous pound cake. Jessica and Michele, who are both good cooks, to be so young, brought their specialty dishes and there was fancy tea too. How good it felt to know that Jenny has such dear and genuine friends. We all love our children, but there is great comfort, in knowing we are not the only ones who love them.
I left the brunch quite early, as I had to get back to the rabbit patch. I had been gone almost two weeks, and school started the next day . .regular readers know . . .”that changes everything.”
I did not want to leave the world of summer. . .but I had missed Kyle and Christian – and my animals. Besides, some day the appraiser is coming, and there is that. My ear ached the whole way home. Thankfully, the drive was uneventful, otherwise.
I pulled in the drive and the grass at the rabbit patch, was so high, that it robbed the territory of its’ charm. It was about shameful as all of “Farm Life” is such a tidy community. I made a mental note to hire somebody immediately to preserve our dignity.
Oh, the reunion with my sons and dog – and cat,was sweet. Christian had just scrubbed floors, so the house was tidy. This may have been to soften the news that the dryer had quit working. The clothes line is a wonderfulalternative, but showers pop up daily and without warning. I can not hang clothes on the line and go to work . . so I need to tend to that immediately too. For now, the ladder has become a drying rack.
I decided to make a pitcher of ice tea. Surely that would put things right. Kyle came in as the tea was seeping. I was surveying the progress of the “autumn joy” flowers through the kitchen window. Kyle said “Mom, there are ants in the sugar.” -and there were. It was a new bag and had not been opened -but there were ants, as Kyle had said.
Well, I thought, we are all well and safe, we are all together – and the autumn joy flowers are full of young buds.
I woke to a soft and cool rain, on Monday. Now, this is certainly the best conditions for sleeping, but it was the first day of the new school year, for me. I did not dilly-dally, but went straight-a-way, to preparing for the day. I like to get to work early, and that is the only place I know of, I can say that about.
Monday night,I made a canister of summer oats with the wild blueberries, I love. I plan to make the veggie burgers, this week end. I keep the refrigerator at school, stocked, with such things, along with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, as lunch breaks are seldom more than twenty minutes.
My clothes are laid out the night before, as I can not think sensibly, upon waking.
This morning, (Wednesday), a phone call woke me. It was Mama and I knew right off, something was wrong. Daddy needed to go the emergency room. He had suffered all night – so had Mama -with pain. Thankfully, it was not life, threatening-but it demanded attention. It does me good to write, all is well, now.
I came home to a new dryer, and that was good news too, for it rains every day, still.
What an eventful week, thus far! . . .and what a far cry from the watery interlude of summer. Each season has its’ own rhythm. . . Now as I drive past fields, and woods, and quiet pastures, I take in the beauty – just as I did on the banks of the laughing river, in June. While the tulips rest, the loosetrife blooms, when the berries are spent, young pumpkins abide and the corn, gilded in gold, awaits harvest. So beauty does not forsake us, but instead takes on new forms. The world is always adorned in some spectacular fashion. . .and I am more keenly aware of this, now that I am older. Growing up in the countryside, did not hurt one bit, either. . . and especially in the particular times, when I was a child.
I grew up, before televisions were on all day, before children were allowed to chat on telephones and before, we became attached to gadgets. Children made their own toys, mostly – out of what was at hand and ball games were organised by the children too, without rosters and uniforms. We were bound to notice the landscape and roam in wild places.
Autumn is less than a fortnight away, so many changes are yet to come. “Monday” did change a lot of things, but life has a rhythm too – and while, we must adjust steadily (and occasionally, rapidly) . . . The moon will climb the sky as it always does and the pines will whisper, as they always do. . . for nature is not only beautiful, it is also full of mercy.
How quiet an early service in August is. There is no “hustle and bustle” of wings. There are no squabbles over territory and the frantic searches for food have lulled, amongst the birds. Only the squirrels have any measure of haste, and they ought to, for the dogwood is laden with an abundance of pale green berries, now.
Very rarely, does Lyla miss the early service. Lyla has the uncanny knack of rising within minutes of my waking. It does not matter the day, nor the hour, it is always the same. I hear her light, “kitten- like” steps on the stairs as I am making coffee. She enters the kitchen so quietly.She smiles and says softly, “Good morning Honeybee.” . .and so the days start sweetly.
Jenny and I always tackle housekeeping in the morning time. We have all of the little baby dresses washed and hung. Today we will go to the local fire department, to have the infant car seat installed properly. There are a good many rules and regulations with these contraptions and your baby can not leave the hospital til you get it right!
Some of Jennys’ friends are hosting a brunch for her on Sunday. Today, Jenny went through her closet and began the task of finding the dress she will wear on that occasion. Lyla and I watched her parade about in each one. Motherhood is especially becoming and Jenny is proof of that. My heart welled up like a bubbly fountain just seeing my daughter in such a blessed state. Later, I thought, “why, she was six, just yesterday!” Time is slyer than any fox, I know of.
August is full of zinnias. When other flowers have faded, the stalwart zinnias, are in their glory. If you see a patch of them, it is bound to do you good, for they are as bright and cheerful as any flower I know of. Jennys’ neighbor, has a butterfly bush, a few sunflowers and zinnias in a corner of his yard. I love the color combination of pink, lavender and yellow blossoms and intend to do something like that at the next rabbit patch.
August is full of dragonflies too. They are out in great numbers. In the sunlight, they are blue, yellow, green and lavender (almost). Dragonflies are a busy lot, dashing and darting, hither and yonder. When I was very young, now a long time ago, my “Pop” would tie a long string to an unsuspecting dragonfly, for me to hold, as the adults “housed tobacco”. It was like a live kite and it was quite thrilling for a young child. We were careful to never hurt the dragonfly, though I am sure the experience did not improve his mentality. Now, as I watch the dragonflies, I remember that time, more than a half century ago.
On Wednesday morning, I made pancakes – or “honeycakes”, as Lyla calls them. I made a lot of them, We had them for breakfast, and then I packaged a dozen bags of them, to freeze for Lylas’ breakfasts in September. Of course, these are not ordinary pancakes, for they have a powdered concoction of vegetables and berries in them. It gives them a slight berry flavor which Lyla does not mind – and it is the only way I know of to get carrots and greens in her diet.
Jenny had a doctors’ appointment, on this morning. It was determined all was well, thankfully. Of all the things that I am waiting for, it is the new baby, that “takes front and center”. All else, fades in comparison.
Lyla does not understand this waiting time. She thinks we should just pick up a baby at the grocery store. A few weeks ago, we visited a woman with a young baby. Lyla was very disappointed that we left empty handed as she was sure, we were there to get her little sister. I heard her tell,her stuffed bunny, “well, we didn’t get a baby there.”
Miss Claudia came for supper on Wednesday. Lyla and I made a lemon dump cake as Jenny has really favored anything lemon, lately. I am not a fan of making dump cakes, for as their name implies, it is really just a matter of “dumping” ingredients together and baking it. There is not a bit of mystery to it and the process is mighty quick. It seems very “instant” to me, but Jenny liked the cake (we all did) – and that is what matters. . .besides, Lyla found making a dump cake, to be a delightful affair. . .and that matters, too.
On Thursday, my youngest sister, Connie and niece, Hayley came for a visit. Connie lives between two homes, one is on lake, and the other is on an island. I think it is safe to say, that Connie loves water. I was eleven years old, when Connie was born. She was one of the lovliest children I have ever seen. She had blonde silky hair, with soft curls and crystal blue eyes, which were in sharp contrast to my auburn hair and freckles. Connie was bright then, and remains so, today. Hayley, now twenty, patiently played with Lyla, as if she too were a very young child. It was a nice visit and in some way it seemed liked a part of the grand finale of my summer.
My liberty is waning and I am sorry for it. To console myself, I say “at least, I had some liberty” and I think of all the gifts it afforded. There were books read – and fresh peaches picked, in the mist of a early morning. I did a lot of meandering by familiar places and saw new places. I sat by the sea and on my Mamas’ front porch. I remember the fireflies and the young robin in June. There was a picnic by the lake and a wedding. I saw a falling star, one night and a raccoon came to visit, on a morning in June.
There was a lot of work and a lot of play. The process of selling the rabbit, was at least started and that dreadful ear ache is all but over.
Oh the contents of a summer, can warm you like a bright fire, on a winter night. . . long after the irises have bloomed, . . and the last apple is picked . . . and gardens lie barren . A season never leaves , without imparting gifts and this summer was surely generous. . .and I am better for it.
Another beautiful “early service” arrived this morning. There was a cool breeze blowing, that delivered the sweet fragrance of early morning. Besides myself, there was a squirrel gathering acorns and a female tanager. I had seen a male tanager this year- only on one occasion. The Tanagers are quite elusive birds, so any sighting is memorable. The male is a cheerful red, and the female is a buttery yellow. They are a striking pair and I counted it a privilege to catch a glimpse of the golden flash of the bird this morning. Otherwise, it was a most solitary service.
Lyla and I took a stroll around the village about mid morning. It was already hot and the breeze barely whispered. The river was quite blue and rolled gently by. We spent some time on our rock. A dragonfly joined us. He flitted about skimming the water and so we watched him for a while . We did not tarry too long for the southern heat was damp and I was sure we would wilt on the way back.
On Friday morning, Lyla wanted to help cook “honey cakes” for breakfast. This was before seven am. Of course we did. When breakfast was put away, Lyla and I made cookies. She loves to “crack eggs”. We listened to our music which Lyla has come to expect. She always reminds me as she is getting the large bowl, to play our music. She will not begin, til a violin melody rings sweetly in the kitchen.
Lyla has improved greatly about the conclusion of the mixing, I noted . . and at long last, I have learned to bake good cookies.
That was not the end our our cooking spree, for Miss Claudia, Wills’ mom and my dear friend, was coming for supper. This warranted a dessert. We made a cheesecake, which Lyla called ” a pie”. We used wild blueberries, as I am convinced they are by far the most flavorful. I will tell you the dessert was a big hit.
On Saturday morning, Will and Jenny worked on the nursery. Their second daughter is expected in September. Lyla, their first born, helped for a while and was very good natured about the “big production” . . until she saw the butterflies fluttering across the wall . . .and then the pastel lanterns . . .and the sparkling flowers. This proved a bit much and so Lyla came downstairs with me to watch a show about the wild animals in Africa.
Jenny, being a thoughtful mother, had allowed Lyla to be in on the decoration purchases, and even bought a few new things for Lylas’ room, which the girls will share, eventually. It all worked out fine and Lyla said she loved her little sister, after all.
I stayed out of the way for a bit, as I felt the preparing for new baby, was such a special event. Out of curiosity, I did have a peek after an hour or so. What a beautiful and moving picture unfolded. Will was hanging pretty things on the wall, and Jenny had a stack of dainty blankets . The crib stood neatly with fresh linens beneath sparkling flowers. Lyla was ransacking a collection of soft baby toys. How sweet it was to behold young parents with their fresh, youthful faces full of aspiration and joyful anticipation, at the arrival of their new daughter. The room nearly glowed and it made me want to dance . . a waltz.
Few things are as holy, on this earth as the birth of a child. Most things dull in comparison. It is no wonder, we hold these memories tenderly until they are embedded in our heart.
I have not heard a word about the arrival of the appraiser. Will, being a banker is well versed in this process and predicted it would take about two months for the conclusion of the sale. It seems he was right. It is most likely that the business of . . selling the rabbit patch – and hence moving to a place I do not know of yet . . .and the new school year starting . . and the birth of my second grandchild . . will all happen at once -sometime in September.
This is a lot of things to transpire and every one of them quite significant. It will be a time of great change and a lot of contemplation under the best of circumstances, especially for a simple, country woman, who spends her time watching dragonflies and sitting on a rock, for lengthy spells.
Since none of that is happening today, I will concentrate on a Sunday Supper, instead. Miss Claudia is coming and that makes the meal, an occasion.
Jenny and I will go through another parcel of baby clothes. There is always laundry and stories to tell Lyla. . . and I will watch for the tanagers, and a yellow finch, I spied this morning.
This is the last week of the summer break. School starts for teachers, next Monday. I must mend my ways, especially the leisurely eating and sleeping patterns, I have developed, over the course of the season. Breakfast can not be eaten at ten am, and midnight is not a suitable bed time.
Of course the hardest part, will be not satisfying my whims, which I have grown quite accustomed to. I will miss the rainy days, spent reading until my hearts’ content . . and making a cake on a Tuesday, if the notion struck me . The sheets may not be sprinkled with lavender regularly and I will miss such things, for I am domestic in heart, despite this modern age, that I live in.
This week, I plan to do the things dearest to my heart. I will spend a few more days, in Elizabeth City. I will stroll the familiar path by the laughing river, with Lyla. I will help Jenny with any loose ends. before the baby arrives . . for what will Jenny do, when I go back to work? . . . and oh, so very soon . . . it will be September!
Maybe summer, has saved the best for last, for the beauty of this morning rivaled any summer morning, I have ever seen. Sun had replaced rain, for the first time in weeks. The cicadas were singing and a light breeze stirred the leaves on the old trees. A few “early birds” were out. The birds went about their business, the frantic state of spring, now far behind them.
Late summer is a crossroads, of sorts. It is a time to tie up loose ends. Projects started with zeal, in spring, that were never fully completed and projects that were never started at all, seem to call to us now. When the purple loosestrife starts to bloom, then we are in the twilight of summer . . .and the purple spikes of the loosestrife are beginning to bloom now, at the rabbitpatch.
Today, I am called to finish a project. I am finishing the trim work in the living room. This is long overdue, shamefully long overdue. I had hoped my affair with the ladder was over, after the kitchen ceiling. Why I do not have a girlish figure is beyond me, but alas I look as elderly as ever. Apparently, ice cream and biscuits are not canceled out by hard work. I will be so very thankful, when the appraisal is over and declare I will be lazy for a while afterwards. If I start feeling overly sentimental about the selling the rabbitpatch, then will I remember the ladder – and the lawn mower, that is very temperamental.
The little, under an hour job, of painting the trim work, took all day. I did not factor in that the doors would look so dingy under the stark white trim. I did not expect a layer of dust and dirt beneath the sofas . . .I had just moved them a few months ago, to dust and scrub. Then there were the windows! They were awful I noticed. . .and so I had to clean them as well. One thing always seems to lead to another.
By late afternoon, a dreaded earache made its’ presence known. I have them every once in a while, and they are miserable affairs. It has been about a year, since I had one, but their memory remains clear. Thankfully, I had clove oil. I also drank as much water as I could stand with oregano oil. I slept with an ice pack, right through the supper hour.
I slept through the “early service” altogether. I suspect things went well, anyway. The nap threw me off and the night was uncomfortable. Sleep was fitful but upon waking, I did feel better and realised I detest the taste of oregano oil . . .but plan to use it again today.
When I did get up, I went straight away to cleaning the hall . It has high ceilings where entire communities of spiders go about their business – and the “Christmas Closet” (filled now with secrets) was dusty. I have a door to paint and floors to scrub. I have two more rooms to clean after that and I have to pack . . for I am going to Elizabeth City tomorrow, where a laughing river tumbles by.
At noon or shortly after, I took a break. The spiders had been evacuated and that ladder put away. I was far from finished, but had made progress. My ear did not ache, but I drank a glass of water with a drop of the oregano oil, for good measure.
Cash slept close by, pouting a bit at my lack of attention. Ever so often, he looked up as if to accuse me of not loving him anymore. I would remind him he was the best dog in the world and he seemed to take it to heart, for he perked up at those moments and then buried his velvet nose in his paws, again. . . content with my declaration.
I love dogs. I especially love boxers. Their faces are full of expression. Their heart is worn on their sleeve. They are highly trainable, but require dedicated owners, as they are known as “eternal puppies”. An untrained boxer, could make your life miserable.
I enjoy the company of Cash. He is never far from me when I am at home. I am also very dependent on him, for he is alert and protective. Dogs never lie. If he says “we have company”, then we do whether I heard it or not.
He will be quite forlorn, when I bring the suitcase out, to pack. When I come home, he will gallop around the yard at full speed After our reunion, he will want to eat and he does so greedily . It is the same every time.
Ironically, the first dog that ever bit me was a boxer. A friend of mine who prefers german shepherds, says the first dog that bit him was a shepherd.
By four o’clock, I had lost my gumption. There was a floor to be scrubbed, supper to be cooked and I had not packed. I opted to cook supper first as Kyle and Christian will survive on cereal, scrambled eggs and sandwiches, while I am gone.
As usual, I caught a second wind and started packing, after supper. I was also determined to scrub the floor in the laundry room. I like to leave the house clean, and the boys are good at maintaining the house, while I am gone, for I make all sorts of threats.
It has not rained for two days. If the weather holds out, I plan to meander by that laughing river with Lyla. I do hope it will be cool enough for a picnic . . and maybe we will sit on the old rock again as we did when summer was young and the loosestrife , was just beginning to sprout.
The rabbit patch was blanketed in fog this morning. Fog, like its’ cousin “snow” quiets the world. While there is fog, the world seems hushed, as if it is harboring a secret. The air is as still as it has ever been, rendering the pines living, silvery statues. How elegant the lowly pine looks in fog.
When I was young, the event of fog, was the time to play “hide and seek”. We did not tarry long at the breakfast table, on those days. I can still remember the ghostly appearance of my little sister dashing from one place to another. I was very liable to dance in the fog, during the game of course. I did my best to mock the most graceful ballerinas. I concocted music in my head and twirled around with very elaborate arm movements, which really spoiled the game for the ones hiding. At some point, someone would whistle and I would snap back to the task at hand, of finding the restless children.
Yesterday, I had a change of pace. I attended the wedding of my first cousin, Genas’ daughter. My sister, Delores and niece, Dana came from Raleigh. Mama loaded us all up, and off we went.
What a lovely occasion. The flowers were the palest pink you could imagine and white. Tiny lights were woven in like a twinkling ribbon. My aunt Christine, the grandmother, of the bride, wore a powdery pink dress, which was becoming . She and Mama are the only two left of their original family. Aunt Christine glowed nearly as much as my cousin Gena did. This is the first of Genas’ children to marry. I wondered how she felt, for I knew her heart was full of all sorts of things. The heart of a mother is so very complex and constantly jumbled up with a variety of things all at once, on any given day.
The ceremony was sweet, to say the least. The groom was nearly beaming. The bride came in, and there was the look on his face, of sheer adoration. The bride wafted in like a good fairy. How beautifully she wore her joy.
There they were declaring their love before all of the world. They were the picture of hope and dreams. It touched me deeply to see them, in such a state of bliss. Oh, how I wished good things for them!
Gena was not always the mother of the bride. One time, she was “the baby in the family”. She was a lovely child with sparkling blue eyes and soft honey colored curls. She was always clean and wore pretty little flocks. I was sure she was a doll, It was my first experience with such a little cousin and I remember talking quietly in her presence and having to tame some of my wildness, that came on me in spurts, as a child.
I do not know when Gena grew up but yesterday, she appeared in a dress the color of twilight, her sparkling eyes now, dewy . Somehow, the sight of Gena sleeping in a white bassinet with an airy fabric flowing, has stayed with me all of my life. . .and I remembered it again yesterday.
With today being Sunday, my stove is earning its’ keep. All of the burners and the oven is full of simmering pots. Potatoes, turnips and carrots are at a mad boiling, to be creamed later. Green beans and brunswick stew are cooking now while a wild blueberry cobbler bakes. Chicken and cornbread wait to be fried. The table will be full today, for Delores and Dana will be here . Delores loves cornbread and blueberries especially, hence the heavy menu. Of course, I am “happy as a lark” , though I worry the paint supplies in the corner may spoil the charm of it all. There is also a ladder in the hall.
Somehow, by noon everything was ready. We ate and no one complained about a thing. It is impossible to moan and groan when you are eating a good meal in the company of loved ones, I think. I will say that the cobbler made from wild blueberries was as good as any as I have ever had.
We talked about the wedding. We talked about dogs. We talked about a “fairy ring” in the yard . Dana was especially interested and wanted a picture of it. I was her only supporter in the quest, but when everyone was leaving, all took pictures of it.
Delores and Dana left to go to their home on an island, a few hours south of the rabbit patch. Delores has a son who is college bound in a few shot weeks. It is his first year and what a lot of things to do, to prepare for that. I know that Delores, like cousin Gena, will need to bear the milestone, of a child leaving the nest, as best she can. . .as all mothers do. The summer is not the only the season that is changing.
The afternoon hours were void of obligations and things like boiling pots. Supper is what is left from noon. What nice things the last few days held. What tender moments and lively ones too. . This was no ordinary week end.
The time we call August has begun . . .and the rain has still not stopped. Most of the towns have some flooding, but so far, and as always, there isn’t a puddle on the rabbit patch. The earth is soggy and just a trek to the car is messy. The sun comes out in brief intervals and when it does, the grass glistens.
All of my life seems suspended in time just now. The last of the summer season is upon us and yet the beginning of the new school year lurks around the corner. Even how a day passes is mysterious without the sunlight . It can be nine am or three pm, for the hours look the same. I struggle with time under the best conditions, and so this is quite disorienting, but in some odd way, it has been peaceful.
The first summer I lived here, we did not even use clocks. We did not have a tv either. We never knew the official time, but we watched the sun and became quite astute, in the art of telling time by the sun. We still are. People who are “clock watchers” wondered how we knew when to eat or go to bed. It was simple, we ate when we were hungry and slept when we were tired. Cable has been out for the week and I do not use a microwave. There are no clocks now either, save one I find pretty, but without a battery – so I am reminded of that first summer, now.
Since it continues to rain, I am mostly left to my own devices. There is some housekeeping, a bit of laundry daily and supper, but this is a light agenda for me. I have felt like a lady of leisure, spending my time reading and working on my Christmas list. Usually in August, I am canning tomatoes, in several different forms, for days. My pantry is now storage for large pots and pans – and food for the animals .
Before Lyla was born, I tended a garden every year. The boys and I took a section of yard and dug it up with shovels. We did not have a tractor. It was back breaking work. The rows were crooked and uneven, but we had a garden. Everything was done by hand, and so the boys declared it was an “Amish garden” for a machine was never used.
The Farm Life community is full of good folks and after that year, several kind neighbors with tractors plowed us a proper garden. One year, our garden drowned. My friend, Julie was staying with me as she recovered from a surgery, that year. One morning, we heard a tractor. I looked out and a neighbor was leaving a small trailer full of tomatoes! Julie was dumbfounded and the look on her face was a mixture – of surprise and horror! It is etched in my memory to this day.
For the next three days, I was in the kitchen. There were batches of tomatoes for soups and stews, marinara and salsa. Julie recovered in spite of the commotion in the kitchen, but remained dazed by the whole affair.
This was not a new experience for me. In the first weeks, of living here, the boys and I slept on mattresses in the living room. The bathroom and kitchen were our priorities, naturally. We worked hard and at night would plan the next day out. The day we were going to tackle their bedroom, we found a bushel of cucumbers on the porch. To this day, I do not know who shared them with us . . .but I do know, we did not paint that day.
Another day, that same year, I was telling the boys what tools to gather, when I saw a truck pull up loaded with corn freshly pulled from his field. I told the boys, “never mind, we are working with corn now.” Corn does not wait. It must be shucked and dealt with almost immediately. Later, I did learn to freeze it in the husk, but I did not have a freezer, that day, anyway.
That was a hard year, in many ways. It was also beautiful. We were strangers, yet our neighbors fed us like we were family. . . and right off! For all the years, I have lived here, that kindness has remained.
Left to my own devices, I work as I can, I try to learn something and I gather some of the beauty of the day. I also reminisce, for there are so many beautiful things to remember.
At the risk of sounding redundant , I will say again . . .it is raining at the rabbit patch. I am sure some record has been broken in the meteorology department, but how would I know, as cable does not work in the rain here? It is just as well, for I have other “fish to fry” these days. With Kyle and Christian absent in the daytime, I have been studying great works – and done some light reading to preserve at least a portion of my sanity. I have removed the relentless cobwebs from the far corners of the house, again . I have pulled grass and small trees up, between showers. . .and made cookies. Today I am scrubbing floors. . . and paying bills. I must find something to occupy my time as the present state of limbo abides. . . which means, waiting for an appraiser.
The school year begins in a few weeks. I had so hoped the whole business of selling and moving would have been sorted out before school started. Now, I can see, that was “wishful thinking” . I have come to terms with that. There is an art to waiting, properly. It is not a passive state at all, for it takes great effort to forge ahead in a sensible manner, when you are trudging in the dense shadow of providence.
I am reminded of being thirteen again, which may be the worst age of all. At thirteen or fourteen, we are really still children, but we aren’t suppose to be childish. The world seems to have changed in a flash. Our looks are changing and we have new feelings. Sometimes we still want to play, other times we are far beyond it. The familiarity of life has vanished and with it, our confidence. We are too old to behave as we did and not old enough to proceed, in any other fashion, but awkward. Nobody, ever says, “I wish I was thirteen again!”
Now this is not really as dire a time, as all that. Life can have a good many seasons. To me, it is like I am embarking on a new adventure . The itinerary isn’t known, just yet, though. All I need is faith “the size of a mustard seed” and I admit, sometimes even that is hard to come by. Those are the gloomy days. At those times, I will pray and walk among the ancient oaks . I will gaze at the steadfast field and look up at the sky, and soon regret my faltering. “How can I be fearful?” , I will ask myself, for it is fear that lies at the root of most dreary thoughts. The whole world seems in cahoots to restore my Faith and fear just can not abide, under such circumstances . In no time, I “go on my merry way” with renewed vigor, and glad for mercy. The whole thing passes like a fever.
Summer is waning, so say the morning glories. Little, tangled masses are hither and yonder on the rabbit patch. I try to let them be, but they are an unwelcome sight, next to a rose bush. No amount of gentle persuasion works on a morning glory. They look too delicate to choke the life out of something . . .but they will.
The corn is tattling about the time, too. Golden tassels crown the stalks, now. The fields lie golden in August, because of that.
I see “Back to School” ads everywhere, trying to convince parents that their children need everything under the sun or they will surely fail their grade. My own school supplies were things like “sturdy” shoes. They were never cute. I swore they were “boy” shoes. I got a new coat and the “book bag” that was also “sturdy” and looked like something a boy would carry. I did not go to kindergarten and I am sorry to say, if it had been up to me, I wouldn’t have gone to first grade.
I had an especially sweet teacher, and I loved every child in the class, but the cafeteria food smelled strange and I could not bear it most days. I do not mean to sound arrogant, but I was horrified that some students did not know their colors. I disliked the worksheets with simple tasks like “circling seven ducks” and “See Jane run!” was dull compared to my beloved “World Book Encyclopedias”, that were on the bookcase, in Grandmas‘ “front room”. Of course, there were water fountains and slides which were new to me, but best of all was the library. The librarian was grouchy, but she was Grandmamas’ friend. She went to our church and it seems like we were “kin” to her someway. She had a pretty white, brick house with a lot of flowers. I often wondered how a person with so many books and flowers could be so grouchy. . . Honestly, I still do.
The apples at the rabbit patch ripen in August. There is a spicy aroma in the air that never fails to remind me of my maternal grandmother. Her kitchen always smelled delicious in August. Big pots of applesauce simmered perpetually and there was apple pie for dessert most every evening. Apple ‘scraps” went to the pasture. The ponies and goats galloped to the fence, when they saw me coming. I remember being careful that all of them got something, as there was clearly a pecking order. If a pony was shy, he was apt to go hungry.
Nellie, was the ruler of the herd of goats. She was the color of sand and quite bossy. She even bossed the ponies! She ruled the herd in a cold hearted way. It was no wonder to me she was so fat she waddled , for she was quite selfish I quarreled with Nellie daily, about her “unchristian behavior” and threw the apples to her “subjects” as best as I could, at six. Nellie got her fair share too. Every spring, Nellie would have twin kids-and once triplets, and I forgave her for everything, on account of that.
Time has marched on at an alarming rate, since then. Many ways have marched away, right along with it. Oh, how long ago, those beautiful summers were! I am glad that fields still lay golden and that apples still ripen, now . . . for this is how I remember August