Friday has a different “feel” to it, in months like February, when the school year is in full swing. It does not have the same affect in the summer months. By the time the wild honeysuckle vines are clambering up the woodland trees, I often have lost all track of what day it is. . .but oh, in February, Friday means something. If I stay at the rabbitpatch on the weekend, I do not cook supper and I abandon chores too. . .at least on Friday night.
Today was warm and a slight breeze blew, tenderly. I feel much younger, than I really am, on such days. I have no idea why, but I always do. Sometimes, there is just no “rhyme or reason” for things. The spirea continues to proceed with great haste . It blooms now – because it can, in this “mock spring”, by a little shed, near the edge of the woods. I painted the shed a watery shade of blue, years ago. The shed has never been used much, but the original owner, wrote his name and the year in the cement floor. . .and so I kept the shed, for no other reason. Years later I planted the spirea. There is a grave there of a dog -a collie who was beloved and was a companion to the original family, according to Miss Sylvia, who is now, also passed. The spirea almost shades his resting place now.
On Saturday morning, I woke to the sound of a light rain. If the sun shines and the warm temperatures remain, I suppose that peach tree will bloom, shortly. I did not spring from bed, as only a week day warrants that. I lingered instead, in the good fortune of a soft blanket and a loyal dog sleeping by my feet. The rain fell gently, without a hint of malice. How wonderful to wake without a sense of rush and obligation, I thought.
I eventually had coffee and read a beautiful article on forgiveness, which I took to heart. There were things to do but all were some of my favorites. We gather tomorrow, for Mamas’ birthday celebration and so I had some cooking to do. I also had some housekeeping to do. I believe in equal pay for women and fair treatment, but I would be a poor representative of the current movement, for I am so content cooking and cleaning. I wish I had time to bake on a Tuesday as I used to. I have a domestic old fashioned heart and tending to babies may always be the most satisfying work I have ever done. Above all else, on this earth . . .I love “hearth and home.”
I also plan to practice my calligraphy today. I suppose, this is becoming a lost art and not nearly as useful as it was years ago, but I like it and practicing is as peaceful a project as I know of. I will also study edible flowers. I have used violets and pansies for years on cakes and in salads, but there is a much broader spectrum of choices. . .besides I always devote myself to studying flowers in February-and neither calligraphy nor gardening should yield anything, but plenty of inspiration.
Last weekend, as I have written, was very busy. Jenny was hurrying to get the little girls dressed and I looked at Will and winked, for I knew full well, that Jenny could not be bothered to think about supper. I think about supper the night before, but Jenny is likely to make a decision just an hour before the meal. I knew there were a lot of us and we would all certainly be hungry, by supper, for we always are – so I mustered the courage to ask. Just as I expected, Jenny replied sharply that she couldn’t think about that at the moment. Will and I grinned . Then Will and Jenny mentioned my lack of planning for anything -except meals. I defended myself by saying I do plan. Will laughed aloud as he is always chiding me about my lack of financial planning. He said “What do you plan?” and I answered “gardens”. Will said good naturedly “well, there’s that”. ( I also plan for Christmas and to prove it, my “Christmas closet” is not empty at this moment . . .but I did not mention that.)
Since, I would be busy in the kitchen, I had the notion to clean out the refrigerator. I keep the refrigerator very tidy, for every Thursday, I go through the contents, but how every tray and shelf in the thing, needs to be washed, is beyond my wildest imagination. Next, I inspected the kitchen cabinets and to my dismay, they also needed attention. All the while, the rain fell and the stove top was full of simmering pots. . .and I was “happy as a lark”.
It was well past seven and the world was pitch dark when I finished in the kitchen. I do not know when it got dark, nor when it got cold.
I slept soundly, which is a benefit of work-and then it was morning. Today was Mamas’ birthday party. I knew of several households that, like me, had things to do. I had finished the most of my cooking yesterday, but you can not make cornbread ahead of time -and so there was that to do. I had done laundry yesterday, but had piled everything on the kitchen table, so there was that to do as well. Still, I had ample time to collect my thoughts in the chilly morning moments. A few of the winter birds sang just as light came to the day. The countryside was still and silent, other than that. There is never much traffic and country dogs do not bark like the ones in town do. Well, if a country dog barks, you best go see why. . .at least that is the case here.
There is something about morning that is holy to me. Once, chores are started or a television is turned on or a phone rings . . .well, such things seem to break the spell. Each day and night can hold sacred times, but for me it is the morning, most of all. It is for this reason, that I rise so early, especially on the days I work. I first take in to account my dreams, which mostly come in flashes. I pray next and I like to write in the morning, for that is when all sorts of thoughts seem to ascend upon me. By now, I am drinking coffee. There is such a purity present in the first hours -and truths seem more evident, upon my waking. Even the sorrows of yesterday “get put in their place” in the morning. The night , seemingly, having stolen, at least, some of their fierce thunder.
The birthday dinner was at one o’clock. I went early to fry the cornbread there. It was a smaller gathering than usual, as several family members were out of town. We were not short on food though. Mama ought to not to have to cook for two days, as we left her well stocked.
She is hoping Daddy will take her out to eat anyway . . .and I bet he will.
I drove home, from Elizabeth City, a bit later in the day, than I usually do, on Sunday. The sun was a buttery shade of yellow and was descending on the pewter horizon. It was not bright enough, to cast a shadow of trees in winter, on the barren fields. The low, golden glow of the evening gave the landscape a kind of serenity, as if the heavens were singing a benediction.
The weekend had been full and busy. On Friday night, I had stayed home with Lyla and Brynn, while Will and Jenny attended the wake for Miss Claudia. All was going fine, til Brynn started a crying jag. As I was walking and singing to her, Jennys’ elderly and beloved dog made a puddle on the floor right near the back door. Within seconds, Lyla came running and stepped right in the middle of it. She slid several feet, which sent her to wailing – and of course, the phone rang. I could not hear a word of the caller and simply said “please call back”. Brant and Sydney came in ( a welcomed sight) and got Lyla in the bathtub and cleaned the puddle. Brynn remained on her mission to “disturb the peace”, til Jenny came in about half an hour later.
The services for Miss Claudia, were held on Saturday. It still seems so shocking to write that. It was comforting to see the large attendance. Many had driven several hours to pay their respects, and I think that speaks well of my friend.
Afterwards, I dropped in on Miss Thelma, while I was there. Miss Thelma lives right across the street from Jenny, in a rambling old house on the laughing river. She lives with her husband, who is ninety six and bed ridden. Miss Thelma will be ninety five in March, and she was planning a birthday party for herself, on this day. Despite her advanced years, Miss Thelma seemed so youthful as she planned her event. Miss Thelma is very sharp in mind, but terribly confused about the ways of modern society . . .so am I.
It was pitch dark, when I pulled in to the rabbitpatch, for I had stopped by Mama and Daddys’, first. This is Mamas’ birthday week. We will celebrate on Sunday, so there are lots of secrets just now.
Christian helped me get my things in while Cash pranced around and Christopher Robin purred. I was in my “house clothes” within minutes. Now, it was time to “wait for Monday”, which always changes everything.
I have not yet chosen my next winter study or else I would have read. All I know, is that I am going to study some light subject- I am not in the mood for any subject that requires me to dwell on anything that can be even remotely gloomy -or that requires a lot of complex thinking.
I noticed, that the he spirea bush is just beginning to blossom. I love the delicate masses of fairy tale flowers. The stark white flowers appear before the leaves and so there is an illusion of floating flowers. It is mighty early for the spirea to show off, for we are likely to have at least a “hard frost” from now to April. The last weeks have been spring like, and it seems the spirea does not “look before it leaps”. I am hoping against all odds that the peach tree does not follow suit, for the palest pink blossoms of the peach, are some of my favorite. I think I could sell the farmstead, quite easily, if the peach tree stayed in bloom.
It seems to me that February just arrived a few days ago, but alas, Valentines’ Day looms just ahead. I like this day, though I do not participate in any ridiculous expectations of the day. To me, that would spoil every thing. Besides, I have fond memories of paper hearts and wilted wildflowers, that I hold dear -and remember in February. Mama used to make a heart shaped cake for us on Valentines Day. I thought they were beautiful and so fancy. I will probably bake something or make heart shaped pancakes at the rabbitpatch for supper. . .and maybe I will bring a sprig of that spirea in, too. Simplicity keeps holidays so pure – and manageable. “Big productions” just wilt me, anyway.
Speaking of “big productions” . . . I do not watch the evening news, as I used to. I do try to catch the local weather, so I will know whether or not to warm the car up, the next morning and what kind of clothes will be suitable, too, but I have tired of the relentless negativity. I am always shocked at the types of crimes being committed, for they are quite bizarre and unnatural acts. Then there are the “band wagons”, loaded down with a slew of unhappy folks. It seems to me that everybody is fighting about something. There are more “life styles” out there than I dare to imagine . Health scares are a dime a dozen and on and on it goes, til at long last, thirty minutes have passed, and dinner is ready, if you can still eat.
If I sound old, it is because I am that old.
Oh how grand that the sun til sets in the west as it always has-lighting up the sky with ceremony at the end of the day. The stars take their familiar places and somewhere, little paper hearts and scraps of old lace adorn a kitchen table . . . and maybe there is a mother, making a fancy, heart-shaped cake.
I came to Elizabeth City, on Friday, after school with high hopes, of all sorts. The drive was really beautiful. The three rivers, I cross were full of shining blue water. I thought of the poem “Song of Hiawatha” as I went along. The day was mild and the forecast was that this would continue for a few days. I expected this would mean a few strolls around the village with Lyla and Brynn over the weekend.
I expected we would all go to Miss Claudias’ shortly after I arrived. She and I had a project to work on, after all. . . one I devised and she was ready to rush headlong in to! We had talked about it at the beginning of the week. The doctors said, Miss Claudia had but a few months left. The news had been crushing, but Miss Claudia kept us all lifted by her example. She did not complain but instead went on about her business.
Will was spending nights with his mom, so I thought to stay with Jenny and the little girls, would be helpful. I was already working on a long term plan. Christian said he would stay, when I couldn’t.
Will drove up just a few minutes after I did. Miss Claudia was sleeping, so it looked like I would see her the next day.
On Saturday, Will came in for breakfast. Miss Claudia was not yet up. Jenny and I thought we could take lunch over, but Miss Claudia was not yet up at noon. I was concerned, but pushed it aside. By around three, Jenny called the hospice nurse. The nurse came and my worse fear was confirmed -Miss Claudia died early on Sunday morning. She just went to sleep and peacefully drifted away from us, and so very gently, like a sparrow, bound for home.
We are all in a state of shock. Of course, we are all heartbroken. It seems like we are all in a horrid daze. Will, was shaken as I have never seen him . Lyla said her “Cici” had become an angel, but she “could not understand, why she had to do it now.”
The last few days already seem a blur. There is so much business to be taken care of with a death. The first time, I went to her house, was awful She wasn’t there and the whole thing seemed shocking all over again. We were all busy and exhausted, so that when a brief lull occurred, . . . I was sorry, for the hurt welled up inside, reviving the tragedy all over again.
One day the weather was especially. mild. Will was tending to all sorts of arrangements and details. Jenny was doing paperwork and I decided to take Brynn for a stroll. It could have been a day in April. Birds were singing and in the distance, I heard a tractor. I felt homesick, for lack of a better word, for everyone and for happy times. I know we are told repeatedly, to “live in the moment”, but this does not mean we must abandon all memories and so on this day, I indulged myself, til I was quite filled with melancholy.
It makes no difference the circumstances, loss is hard and may be the worst burden this life offers. We miss our loved ones, pure and simply put. Certainly, we are all glad that Miss Claudia was spared further suffering – we are all glad her passing was peaceful, but that does not bar us from the painful, deep ache of losing her.
The one time, that Miss Claudia cried about the whole affair, was because, she wouldn’t see Lyla and Brynn grow up and that Brynn wouldn’t even know her. Now that, still makes me weep. . .hence, ” our project” was born. I thought to create a journal , to tell Miss Claudias’ “story and she was every bit as excited, as I was. It was one of the last things we talked about. Rest assured, the project will go on, for the dear sister, “Julia” also known as “Aunt J” has agreed to help me.
I drove home on Wednesday under the same fair conditions, of the last few days. The service for Miss Claudia is on Saturday, and a lot of things had been taken care of, but how I wished I could have done more. To see the young shoulders of Will, bearing such grief and my Jenny caring for the children in the midst of it all, caused me to want to turn around and race back to the rescue. It felt so odd to just return to the routine of my life, as if something significant had not occurred.
When my grandmother died, I was annoyed that the world just went about its’ merry way, as if it didn’t matter that we lost a beautiful light, which seemed to drastically dim the planet. That very night, a full moon rose and shined like all was well and I couldn’t understand how Thanksgiving came anyway, when Uncle Randy had just died.
I know full well, this may be peculiar thinking, but such thoughts do pop in my head. . . much, like the wild dandelions, that spring up without fair warning.
A lot of people declare that January is the longest month. I suspect that the commotion in December and the New Year celebrations causes us to get used to a state of perpetual motion. The quiet of January is in such stark contrast to the gatherings and excitement, the carols and the many details, of the holidays. Even the food is reduced to average meals- and evenings are quiet affairs with soft blankets and books, or crochet or a good film. Of course, I feel partial to months like January, on account of this. The world needs January, I think. Solitude and quiet times are so seldom, and so very profitable . January is a fine time to sort your thoughts and to reflect – and certainly, there is no harm in that.
Every season holds my favorite kind of days, for I am surely fickle. I declare in winter, that the sunsets are loveliest. I love a bit of snow and a cheerful fire. I like early suppers. Then in April, I nearly swoon when I see the wild violets and proclaim, spring my favorite, after all and on and on I go til the honeysuckle blossoms and the wild rabbits have their young ones. . .and then there is the first crisp day in autumn , when the trees are adorned in scarlet . . .and then the holidays are truly so magical, well, I am just hopelessly in love all of the time, it seems.
I continue my winter studies. I have been studying the Bible-specifically, the teachings of Jesus. This caused me to do a lot of self examination and I came up quite short of “admirable”. Thankfully, I do not act on all that pops in my head nor do I say it. You would think at my age, it would be an easy course, to practice my faith – but you would be wrong. I am as liable to falter now, as ever. I spent a good deal of time pondering my desire for a pure heart and my feeble attempts to claim it. In the midst of my complex and deep thinking, I decided it better to be a robin, for the robin, I was watching, did not seem to be contemplating a thing ! The absurdity of this thought made me laugh and startle the poor robin. . .still, I thought about the common little bird-I supposed he was happy being a robin, for no one told him that he ought to be an eagle and it was perfectly fine with him that he did not have the prized voice of the nightingale . . . I could stand to take a few lessons from that robin, I thought.
In order to regain a sense of balance, I resumed my reading of “Elizabeths’ German Garden”. The book has some lovely passages, most especially, if you like gardens. If you are not a gardener. I fear this book, is not going to be of much interest to you. Even if you are, you are not going to burn the biscuits, because of this book. First of all, it took a few chapters for Elizabeth to even leave the garden. Clearly, Elizabeth feels more tenderly to her flowers, than she does any person , still I liked the book, and may read it again. It was written in 1898 and so the vocabulary is wonderful and besides that, I like reading of a time past.
I have not watched one iota of television for a week. It was an experiment of sorts and Christian was in on it too. As you know, I did a lot of reading and the house stayed tidier than usual, too. I went to bed earlier and one night I made gingerbread, from scratch. I do not have time to watch a lot of television, but I admit I missed hearing the familiar voice of the weatherman as I was cooking supper and I was always wondering which old film was playing. The results are, Christian and I agreed, that we are going to adopt a new habit regarding television.
I am going to Elizabeth City, after school tomorrow. I am packing all sorts of clothes. The days have been cold, for the south-and the nights even colder. We have not had a single snowflake, though. I simply can not imagine the frigid conditions north of the rabbitpatch. Last year, for the first time in my life, the temperature dropped to -6 degrees F! I had to check on the water pump and without proper clothing. I expected to perish at any moment. Conditions are not so drastic now, but it is cold, none the less.
Rest assured I will call on Miss Claudia, when I get to Elizabeth City. She was so happy to know that she has a fan club of rabbitpatch readers, praying for her. t means everything to her . . .and to me too.
“More things are wrought by prayer, than this world dreams of.” -T.S. Elliot