The rabbitpatch is especially beautiful, when bathed in early morning light. A new day – another chance – is given, like a gift, wrapped in sunlight and birdsong, at each dawn. I think, I heard a purple Martin this morning-or else a very skilled mockingbird. The Martins come to this part of this world in March, with their exotic trills. Martins hatch their young here, but then leave for South America, which is where they learn their fancy songs. Daddy loves the purple Martin, and has houses for them.
Already, we are in the twilight of March and true to the old saying. March does seem to be ” leaving like a lamb”. Fair days are more frequent now and even the wind does not howl as it did, but, instead, blows in a friendly way. . .and now the cherry tree at the rabbitpatch is adorned with a few blossoms. This cherry tree is fruit producing and not the ornamental variety, that I declare, is the “Loveliest of Trees” as does Housman, in his poem. Still, I have never met a tree, that I didn’t like and the rabbitpatch cherry is no exception to that – and it is beautiful too.
Today is the kind of day to hang linens and sheets on the line. I have always loved the sight of a line of curtains or sheets, flapping joyfully, in a breeze. My friend Julie, used to visit frequently, for a few days, and I always made sure that she had line-dried sheets, for she loves them, as I do. When my hours were different, at school, I would hang my own sheets on the line before work . . .and pray it did not rain, in my absence. It was always worth the chance. Besides, the delightful affair of sleeping on sheets dried in sun and country air, the practice is ” green” and sensible. I am already looking in to some sort of line for a small yard, to use at the next rabbitpatch. Mama and Grandmama had to hang clothes out, for they neither had a dryer, when I was young. Hence, clothes were washed on sunny days, year round. I remember my sister, had to hand clothespins, for she was youngest. I had to sort through the tangle in the basket, and hand each piece of laundry. Then, the thing seemed like a chore, but now I remember the conversations shared, which did not always include, just the next task details. We talked about God, what to name the new colt and what we wanted for Christmas . . . and later boys. Every subject came up naturally and changed over the years, just as naturally.
Not a single March, passes that I do not remember flying kites, made by Daddy. Daddys’ kites were not beautiful, though one year, we did convince him to use “the Funny Paper” for some flash of color. (Gosh, I have not thought of the “Funny Paper” in a long time! For younger readers, this was a Sunday paper of comic strips. It came with the newspaper. ) Daddys’ kites were very impressive as they climbed the sky, without fail. Sometimes, they became impossible to detect. I did not realise it then, but what gumption it must have taken to work a long, hard day, come home and fly a kite!
While the sheets danced in the breeze, I took a moment to visit with the cherry tree. Oh the blossoms smelled delightfully sweet and I hoped they would scent the sheets! The wind blew in the right direction, to do so. Sometimes in June, when the wild honeysuckle blooms, the sweet scent will cling to the sheets and so will the Mimosa scent, in July.
The jasmine in the young woods is blooming now. The bright yellow flowers hang like garlands on the trees, transforming the landscape into a scene of celebration. I thought of Lyla, for she loves the smell of jasmine. While the jasmine dangles, like strands of sunshine, the meek violets carpet the rabbitpatch in every nook they can find. Somehow they deck the footpath, to the garden, as if it were their intention. I am always careful not to step on them.
When the sheets were dry and inside the farmhouse, I set the garden on fire. It was full of branches and leaves, collected all winter. I only got about half of the plot burned, but it was a start. When the boys were young, burning the garden was a big event. We all sat outside and took turns tending the fire. I felt lonely for those times, today. A fire is best enjoyed in the company of loved ones.
The boxer loved the fire and did his part to cheer me. He raced around the yard like something awful was on his heels. How glad I was to have this loyal and handsome dog.
The sun was slipping behind the woods and the embers had lost their glow, when I decided to take a stroll by the field, behind the oldest barn. The field isn’t yet plowed. A watery, green ground cover blankets the vast territory. How do I forget this wonderful spring event, for it happens every year? The field becomes a sea, each spring for a few short weeks, just as the jasmine blooms and the cherry blossoms. Dear Diary, The twilight of March, is a wonderful, wondrous time.
I came back to the rabbitpatch, on Tuesday evening. Jenny was at least eating , though lightly. Her house was orderly, groceries were bought, laundry done and her supper was cooked, when I left. I do think the chicken soup, helped the process. Still, I wished I could have stayed another day or so. I am always that mother.
Monday was a beautiful day. The sun shone faintly, a slight breeze blew and the air was mild. When Brynn was safely tucked in for an afternoon nap. I insisted Jenny nap too. Lyla and I were going out. Lyla said it was a good day to visit the “laughing river” – I agreed whole heartedly. Being almost four, Lyla wanted to ride her tricycle. Since there was a sidewalk, I agreed to that too. I must say she did a good job and so in no time we, were on the banks of the river, where dandelions were blooming. The water was so calm and reflected the sky like a mirror. For a while we watched the clouds floating in the water. Lyla made a few dandelion wishes, and then a friendly robin came to call. He was not in the least skittish and allowed us to get quite close. Lyla loves to practice “balancing” on the old railroad ties, that are all aligned to mark parking spaces, though there is hardly ever a car parked, there. The little robin hopped along in front of her, glancing back ever so often, full of curiosity. This went on for at least fifteen minutes. Lyla and I were both amused. Lyla coming to the end of her act, thought we should go to “our rock”. She like I, had missed our strolls and wanted to visit all of our favorite places.
We sat on the old flat rock, with the water lapping playfully around the edges. It felt like a “homecoming” with our old friends, the rock and the “laughing” river. I do not know how long we sat there, for the rock, in the little nook, is too enchanting to keep time. When a few drops of rain, broke our trance, we decided to head for home. We took a different route back and I was so glad, for the camellias were blooming. There were daffodils too, in most every yard. . .and a jasmine full of buds, clambering up a fence. I found an opened bloom and let her smell it. Jasmine smells purely, like spring and Lyla loved it.
I saw the cherry trees were starting to bloom. It is hard to find a sight more beautiful, than a cherry tree in bloom. The blossoms are a powdery pink and will make you stop in your tracks, if you should see them. I don’t think, I could hold a thing against anyone, while looking at a cherry tree, for it is just too lovely. On the stroll back, I thought as Lyla pedaled away . . .Dear Diary, these are the moments, I live for.
Brynn and Jenny were just waking, when we came in. Both were in better spirits. I started supper, while Lyla and I went over our lists of birds and flowers. She remembered every one of them.
Jenny ate a light supper, but it was altogether more than she had consumed in the last four days. Just afterwards, a fierce wind blew all at once, and a downpour ensued. The air got cold quickly and weather alerts popped up. Thankfully, it passed quickly, but the cold air remained.
On Tuesday, Jenny found “winter clothes” for Lyla and Brynn . They were in the back of the closet, but kept handy, for such circumstances as a cold March wind. This was not the day to take a stroll and admire the flowers or sit on a rock . Lyla and I went to the grocery store and drove by the “laughing” river, on this day. The water was restless and full of swells. Wind, water and blooms all were in action, I thought. What a busy day in nature!
We were busy too -After the grocery, Lyla and I stopped by the home of “the beloved. Aunt J” – short for Julia. Aunt J is a vibrant and joyful soul, now grieving her sister, our own, Miss Claudia. Wills’ sister, ” Aunt Bea” was there and had an early birthday present for Lyla. It was a beautiful doll with a carrying case full of doll clothes. Lyla was thrilled, as she especially loves dolls.
As soon, as we got home, I went to work on laundry, while Lyla dressed her new doll. I was determined to leave Jenny in better shape, than I found her. When a supper was done, and laundry finished and the doll had tried on most every piece of her wardrobe, I packed the car, to go home. I left with high hopes that the cherry trees will be in full bloom, next time.
Before I knew it, the work week had passed til now it is Saturday, It has been a week of chill, light rain and wind. The winds of March are always noteworthy here. Sometimes, you can not even bear to walk outside because of it. It is not the kind of wind for kites, for the the gusts will nearly sweep you away! When I went to bed last night, I could here the wind howling like a distant train whistle. Yet, when the sun rose this morning, the old barn was still standing and somehow the spirea hadn’t lost a single blossom!
We have had a sad event in our small community, this week. A neighbor and friend passed quietly, night before last. Miss Susie was a vibrant, youthful lady. I will not go on about her, because she never liked too much attention. I will say, that Miss Susie was the one who gave me flowers to plant at the old farmhouse, and I mentioned that from time to time. She gave me the hard to find “tansy, that smells like honey” and the “autumn joy” that is now green with new life.
The rabbitpatch has had a lot of sorrow and trial this year. It has been an unusual year in that respect. Now, there is no comparison, to the tragedies that continue to unfold in this world. . .and I am well aware that things can always be worse . We all have our burdens as that is part of this life. I do not know how, any of us can have the fortitude needed, without a faith. It must be an awful predicament.
Tomorrow, the family gathers to celebrate Daddys’ and Christians’ birthdays. For this reason, I have a large pot of chicken already boiling for brunswick stew. My sister, Delores is bringing barbecue, my cousin Chris, is making ribs, Chuck is bringing chicken and Mama is making a cake. There are also , all sorts of sides, as well, so we are all in the kitchen today.
Jenny has a “bug” of some sort and Lyla is showing signs of coming down with it, so it is likely, they will not attend. My sister Connie is on some island in the Caribbean, celebrating her twenty fifth anniversary, so it may not quite be a full house, but it will be close.
Somehow, the old farmhouse has remained tidy from last weekends’ gallant effort-but I may tackle another room, since the wind is still blowing and it is a cold wind, too. The sky is a clear, bright blue and reminds me of October. But for the wind, it would be a lovely day to hang sheets on the line. Instead , I decided to wash my spring dresses, which had been packed up. This is the first time I have unpacked anything since that fateful day in December, when the sell of the rabbitpatch, fell through. Not even the Christmas China, was unpacked, this year. I do not have much choice in this particular matter, as spring days are bound to come at some point. I put them on hangers and hung them wherever I could secure them. They hung from hooks intended for plants, the awning outside of the sunroom and even the welcome lantern. All were adorned with floral prints fluttering in the wild wind. While i did not trust mere clothes pins, it seemed wrong not to take advantage of the fierce gale as it swept through the territory.
The stew was done not long after noon. I cleaned the kitchen and then collected the dresses. They were all dry and smelled like the rose soap, I had used and fresh air. I got a small room clean, so that only leaves three more. I sat down to take a break, The boxer joined me – and that is the last thing I remember . . .for I fell fast asleep . . .so did the boxer.
I woke up hungry and totally confused about the time . The sun was shining, so surely I was late for work. Had I missed the birthday party? When I finally got my bearings straight, I made us all a cheeseburger and took the clothes out of the dryer. I was up til midnight, which is always the case, when I nap.
The moon rose over the field, and I was in awe, for it was tinged with a slightly greenish light – and it was huge. There it was shining on everyone with no regards to things like age or status. Things wild and things tame, we all shared , the glory of the moon, in March.
Somehow, I still got up early on Sunday morning. The day was as bright as the day before, and the sky was just as blue. The wind had ceased and birds were singing. I was chopping cabbage by eight-and had put in the last load of laundry. Mama loves my slaw, and it does pair well with barbecue. I always make enough to leave her some for the week. Other than my chopping cabbage, the house was quiet. The washing machine hummed softly and the mockingbird sang boldly. These are some of the things, I love about mornings.
I do not enjoy chopping cabbage. It makes your hands tired and it takes a good while, to get it fine enough to eat. I do not like the way kitchen machines chop it, for the cabbage is often rendered mushy and this does affect the flavor. If someone walks in the kitchen, while I am chopping, whether they live here or not, I hand them the bowl and invite them to take a turn. Still, I do think a lot, as I am chopping, as is typical when I have such a task. I have solved many a problem, while peeling potatoes or canning tomatoes. . . and dreamed like a “big shot”.
As it turns out, I am leaving for Elizabeth City, after the birthday party. Jenny is still sick and Will goes back to work tomorrow. She did see a doctor this morning, and so got some medicine-though I plan to fix her a pot of chicken soup-which is good for everything.
Thankfully, I had cooked a lot of pancakes this morning. Kyle is home again and so he and Christian will have pancakes, besides some party leftovers. I do not care how old the children get, I cook for them when I can. Tres and Brant, each has a pint of stew to carry with them – and Mama and Daddy are cooking their favorite beans, so they will have those, as well. Whenever, I see my grown sons, I always say “Please come back home, so I can cook for you and wash your clothes.” My friends cringe, when I tell them, but I mean it with all of my heart. Of all the things I have accomplished – or ever will, being their mother matters most to me.
The party was wonderful. It was so nice outside, that we were able to gather on the porch and recall our childhood escapades. How we all lived to grow up, is beyond me, for we were wildlings and quite curious children. We played awful tricks on one another and did all sorts of dangerous things.
The food was all good and there was plenty to send off, with most everyone. I was relieved that Kyle and Christian would not starve in my absence. I made a big plate for Will, as Jenny has not been in the kitchen for days.
I drove to Elizabeth City right afterwards under fair skies. On the way, I thought of all the good things, the day had brought. I smiled remembering the thoughtfulness that had gone in to today. I was glad that Daddy had enjoyed himself. Tres had been able to come home, which is always a special occasion, for me. Brant and Sydney came . . .oh, Dear Diary, This was one beautiful Sunday!
It is Saturday morning, early enough, that it seems like me and the mockingbird, are the only ones in the world. The mockingbird sings from the patch of young woods, at the far corner of the territory. His song echoes with an almost magical lilt and comes through the open window of the old farmhouse. It is breezy enough, to make the pines whisper and a bit cool for an open window, but I like listening to his morning prelude, so I get a warm blanket and sit quietly, beneath it, in the dark, like an odd, old woman. I am not sorry one iota, for these moments. In fact, I feel privileged to know such a time.
The sun came up with a gentle light. I saw rain clouds in the near distance. By this time, a dove cooed softly and the wind had all but stopped. The sun dimmed and the rain clouds moved on, without much ado. . . and the pines stood still, without a refrain.
After all of the commotion, of last weekend, I am hoping this one, remains as peaceful as it has started.
Daddy celebrated his eighty-fourth birthday, yesterday. My sister Connie and her husband Mike – and niece Hayley , took him and Mama out for lunch. I stopped by after school with his favorite ice creams. Mama made her trademark, pineapple cake and someone tied a balloon on the mailbox. We are having a party next weekend to celebrate Christians’ and Daddys’ birthdays.
I can scarce take it in, that my daddy is eighty four -and that my “baby” can grow a beard in twenty four hours. It just goes to show , that even though we can measure time precisely, it still slips through our fingers stealthily -and slyly, with the skill of water.
I am at the rabbitpatch again this weekend. There is a fair share of things to be tended to, besides the usual housekeeping. The first mild days of the year act like a prod of sorts, on me-to get on with my business. Right now, my business is getting the rabbitpatch territory cleaned up. Besides the winter refuge of leaves and more small branches, there is the old refrigerator and a dryer to be removed. Besides that, there are two pieces of furniture in the house, that are long past their days of glory. Neither will make the trip to my future cottage. . .whenever that is.
The floors are in awful mess due to the rain and there is laundry to be put away -and the boxer is getting a bath. Besides that, tomorrow is Saint Patricks’ Day, when you have even a drop of Irish blood, then it calls for a celebration. We take our Irish heritage seriously and so we never let the day pass quietly. Jenny and Will, even got engaged on a Saint Patricks’ Day, years ago in Savannah, by a grove of live oaks.
This year, we are having a pot of hearty potato soup thickened with Irish cheese – and reuben sandwiches. It is a simple fare, compared to most years, but it still counts as a patronage to our ancestors, who had names like Hiram, Henderson McDuffy and Asabella Leary.
I started my housekeeping, cheerfully. The “spark” does not stay there as long as it used to, I notice. I wonder how in my late forties, I could clean the whole house, every nook and cranny, all day long. Certainly, I was tired in the evening, but the house fairly sparkled . . . in those days. What a difference a decade makes! I value cleanliness, as much now as ever, but I sure do not accomplish now, what I used to, in a day. It has helped that I have remained steadfast, in my desire to live without any clutter, but it still takes me twice as long as it used to, to scrub the floors -and I did next to nothing in the yard.
While I was out, I did note that the peach tree blossoms had been faded by a cold night, a few days ago.
Sunday morning dawned cold. I did not rise before the sun, this day. Neither did the birds. It was a quiet early service for a while. There was a light frost, which is natural in March. . . and which is why the peach tree, should have waited to bloom.
There was just enough chill in the air to warrant my hearty Irish soup. I still have housekeeping, too. I worked on and off yesterday til I just gave out. The farmhouse is so much bigger than it used to be. For some years, the house was just the right size. Grandmama was here and three of my sons. Every bedroom was occupied and the kitchen table was full at supper. A cake did not last, much more than a day or two, in those days. The clothes line was full, if the sun was shining and the broom was always out and handy. Those were merry days.
Now, boxes are stacked in corners, awaiting their destiny . . . .as am I. I remain optimistic, and patient . That is why the boxes are unpacked and I have pots waiting to be filled with clumps of flowers and sprigs of cuttings, for they are moving too. One day they will bloom on a small yard around a neat cottage. Grandchildren may have to share a chair at the table and folks will sleep in odd places, for it will on occasion, be a full house . . . that takes a half day to clean! And while I am dreaming, I should include roses – a lot of them.
I had the walls washed and the windows cleaned in the little den, before nine. I started a pot of chicken boiling, for the soup base. Then I tore the sofa apart – and moved it and the rest of furniture, making a total disaster, altogether. The boxer had not planned on this interruption and his face was filled with shock and disapproval.
By noon, the room was put back together and smelled like orange and rosemary. The soup was done and I only awaited a soft blanket to dry. Of course, there was more to be done . . .but it was only noon.
My bedroom was a piece of cake to clean. The sunroom was awful. It is in need of repair, which is disheartening in itself. I tend to ignore the room as it is a pitiful sight. I set about that task, which took twice as long as I expected. No matter how much I cleaned, it was hard to feel but a slight satisfaction, in my effort. It needs painting and the ceiling needs new paneling. The floor is two different kinds of vinyl and so no matter how clean it is, it is nothing short of an eyesore.
I took a stroll around the territory, as the sun was out and the wild violets are blooming. How sweetly the shy little violets make me feel. They are stalwart little things and do not fear the frost. The grass is greening in patches and some of the lilies are up . . .so are the irises. The boxer ran, leaping and bounding joyfully. Boxers, naturally like to celebrate and will do so “at the drop of a hat”. On this day in late winter, there was reason to be glad. A good deal of work had been accomplished, we had wandered, without hurry and a good supper was waiting. Dear Diary, There is always something, to be glad about.
It has become a tradition for me to complain about the time change, every year. Several days have passed and I am just now feeling a bit acclimated to the “changing of the clocks”. I dislike it as much as ever and find it just as ridiculous. It does not help one bit, that mornings are pitch dark when I rise. It could just as well be midnight. Stars are still shining, over a silent world, for things like mockingbirds, have better sense, than to stir in the pitch dark.
True, to the forecast, the weather has been mild during the day-and it has not rained for several days. Oh it is hardest to work inside, when the days are fair. My thoughts turn to things like the “laughing river” and what a grand day, it is to have a picnic. I wish I was home, hanging sheets on the line or gathering branches of Pops’ “golden rod” blossoms . . . or reading something delightful, in the sunshine. It was the same, when I was young.
I tolerated school fairly well . . until the first, silvery days of spring. Then I got “homesick”. I knew Pop was plowing a field and I could almost smell the earth. In those days, the classroom windows would be open, but there was no chance of smelling apple blossoms, in town. The air smelled like fuel and pavement, and the cafeteria food being cooked, just never smelled “right” to me.
I had several problems with lunchroom behavior, for while I didn’t want to eat that “canned stuff”, I was certain the birds might. I put the peas and carrots, in my milk carton and this worked for most of the year, until I dropped the carton, one day and peas rolled right to where the teacher was standing. This landed me in a tight spot for I was accused of wasting food, which ironically, I was trying not to do – and after that, the teacher had to check my tray every day. there were many more infractions, for I was likely to eat my dessert first and I refused the vegetable soup altogether. They served it on Fridays and I was sure they were using “scraps” to make it.
It is no wonder that I wanted to stare out that window, and imagine that beautiful place called home-which “got recorded as day dreaming”.
The classroom smelled like “math books”, lest I ever forget “modern math”. The books were brand new and filled with nonsense about how to add simple numbers. It was the only book, that I was tempted to leave out in the rain, or cut into paper dolls, but I knew better than that, for even a two cent library fine, was shameful, in those days. None of the adults liked “modern math” either . It was an awful waste of life, after all. I announced it to my teacher, who told Grandmama the next Sunday morning, as we attended the same church.
I am older now, and realise that I had wonderful teachers, really. I was just a bit too untamed to appreciate all of the civilization, that schools forced. . . and the library did cover a multitude of sins, as far as I was concerned.
Besides the fields and quiet pastures, I drive by a vacant lot, on the way to and from work. It is a short and peaceful commute that allows just the right amount of time to collect my thoughts. A vacant lot in the country is just a patch of land, usually void of buildings, though sometimes, there is an old barn or shed. More than likely, there will be a grove of pecan trees, or some old shade trees. Somebody will keep the lots mowed, but for them to be deemed vacant, means no one is ever seen there. Such lots are few and far between, in the country. There is one such lot, though a few miles from the rabbitpatch. It is covered now in daffodils, as it is every year. What a sight to come across! I can not imagine how this happened, but there it is, a field of daffodils. They are coming up carelessly, with no rhyme or reason, to any order. The buttery petals fill the ordinary lot, transforming it in to something spectacular. In other seasons, one might not give the place, a second glance, but in the spring, this is not so.
Though the calendar does not proclaim it, it does seem like spring has been declared. I am not sure what to make of, such an early arrival. I do not remember a spring so well under way, at this time of year, ever. I do hope a hateful frost does not come along and spoil everything. I love every season and most every kind of weather. In the winter, I love to see a bit of snow, and I will declare it the most beautiful sight of all. I love the autumn, when the countryside is painted in amber and gold and apricot. The smell of wood smoke and the skies of October make me fall hopelessly head over heels, with the season. In early summer, there is the wild honeysuckle and fresh cut grass. I love the garden and the morning glory climbing up old sheds and fences. In the summer, when stars number in the millions overhead, I am swept away in the beauty . . .and now with the return of the song birds and the Quiet Garden turning green, and all of those daffodils, then I say spring must be the best of all. I am surely fickle, but Dear Diary, I love everything wildly and with all of my heart!
Once again, it is Friday. Friday is never a dull day when I am working. It is easier to get up in the morning, no matter the conditions . . .for it is Friday! Coming home feels especially liberating and hopefulness abounds in the prospect of some time that belongs to you. Whether you plan to do housework, or read or go hiking, there is a beautiful element to “owning your life”. It is a truer form of wealth to me, than money ever dared to be.
Holding my laughing Brynn, or telling Lyla a story, walking amongst the old trees with the boxer, playing music with Christian-all of these things are priceless to me. I do not mind living frugally to afford these hours. I practiced the same habits, when my children were young, hence my pockets are filled with yesterdays’ gold, and so are theirs. I have more regrets, than I wish, but “taking to the woods in October, for a picnic” on a Tuesday, is not one of them.
This does not mean that I am not an advocate for work, but the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” does seem to ring dreadfully true. Finding your own balance is a quest to pursue with great fervor, for it makes all the difference in our life . . .and what skill, it requires, for the scales tilt, first one way and then another, as we go along, depending on our circumstances. What once worked, no longer does and off we go again, adjusting and adapting, according to our current needs. Balance is truly a lifelong endeavor, but the reward is also, lifelong.
This weekend is no ordinary weekend at the rabbit patch. Tomorrow is Christians’ birthday. Birthday ceremonies are not only for the day, at the rabbitpatch. We start before the eve of the special day and finish up, several days later. Only Christians’ favorite foods will be on the menu and he will be on “light duty” too.
Christian is my fourth and last son-and the youngest of five. He is not without fault, but they are few and far between. Worldly things hold little attraction for Christian-they never have. He is bored with trends and has never followed shallow dreams. He is compassionate, gentle, humble and an artist, to the core. He is one of the most spiritual people I know and has served as a beacon to me, on countless occasions. If it sounds like I am a doting mother, it is because I am. I do not bear a bit of shame in it, either. Far be it from me to make light of such a beautiful gift.
It is also Miss Thelmas’ birthday. Miss Thelma lives across the street from Jenny. Tomorrow will be Miss Thelmas’ ninety fifth birthday! She has been so excited. She explained to me, that she did not have a big wedding. She married just after World War II and the world was still recovering. She had a son , who passed a few years ago. Her husband is bed ridden, but has a clear mind, at 96! She told me today, that seeing her name in the Church Bulletin was just thrilling!
I met Miss Thelma several years ago, when Jenny and Will moved in to Riverside, the old village by the “laughing river”. A few weeks later, Miss Thelma came over with a card and candy, to welcome them. She was a striking lady with long silvery hair. Her smile was just beautiful. We struck up a conversation and became fast friends. She has done a good bit of traveling, and was head of the NC teachers for almost a decade. To her credit, she STILL has students, that come to visit her, thirty years after retirement!
Tomorrow, is a “red letter” day, in these parts!
I did not scurry a bit today. I did make a caramel cake for Christian. I have talked about it enough, that he wanted one too. I did laundry and other housekeeping tasks. I like to leave my house clean and orderly on Monday mornings, and it will be here sooner rather than later.
Though it rained again, last night, it did not rain today. I took a stroll around the rabbit patch in the still grey day. The boxer was with me as we explored the aftermath of winter. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought. There were branches, but all were small and manageable. The wind had brought in debris, which was found lodged in the old fence. The peach trees behind the barn were blooming, and so were the daffodils, making bright patches of bright yellow here and there. The forecast declares a stretch of dry, sunny weather, ahead . . . and so maybe, all hope is not lost for an abundant and colorful spring, after all.
Christian and I were up early on Sunday. He opened his presents, while a light rain fell. I was to play for Miss Thelmas’ birthday reception, so I hadn’t a moment to waste. It didn’t help a bit, that we had to change the time, as well. I received notice from two loved ones of bad news. just moments before I needed to leave. . .and so I left the rabbitpatch with a heavy heart.
It was a mild day and a friendly breeze was blowing. I drove to Elizabeth City, in rain and shine, for it would rain for a few miles, and then sunshine dappled the highway, the next few. I had to really concentrate on my driving, for I do not take sorrow lightly.
I barely made the service on time, which was very unsettling. The house Miss Claudia lived in, was just a street over, and how hollow I felt, all over again. What an awful time to be so full of sorrow – and late! I walked in to a church full of friendly folks. The pastor could not hide the relief, at seeing me. Neither could Miss Thelma, who was lovely as ever and fairly glowing. Somehow I manged the first song with a heart, not yet stilled. Listening to the sermon, improved my spirits, for the message was about the dependability of Christ. The second song came easier than the first, thankfully.
The ride back to the rabbitpatch, was much like the one, away from it. This time I noticed the blooming, stark white pear trees and the wildflowers growing everywhere. Sunbeams fell tenderly over the fields. How, I wondered, could a day hold so much beauty, be also filled with tragedy?
I had not been home long, when a dear friend, for over a decade, dropped by. Gayle and I were neighbors for a good while. She was steadfast and dependable, when my husband was sick. She dependably cared for my youngest sons and fed us all. When storms blew in, we got in the habit of cooking a joint supper. Today, she brought me a sweet picture of a rabbit. Her visit did me good, for we sat around the kitchen table, chatting, as if we still saw each other daily.
Afterwards, the boxer and I walked around the territory. I gathered more branches and collected a small bag of trash . . .again. All sorts of birds were flying about and singing cheerfully. I found a patch of wild violets. . . . and Dear Rabbitpatch Diary, I love violets.
What a mixed batch, the weekend was. Celebrations and calamities all at once, grey skies and sunlight. Oh how glad I am for old friends and violets.
It is hard to say whether or not “March came in like a lion”, for February made such a spectacle of itself, masquerading like the late days of April. Either way it is the time of March -the time of daffodils and wind.
I came to Elizabeth City on Thursday. A cold wind blew and rain soon followed. It didn’t matter for Jenny and I had plenty to do -and it was inside work. We had high hopes of changing out the wardrobes of both girls. I thought that would take the best part of a day. We also had planned a special supper for Wills’ “Aunt J” and his sister, Mari. We wanted to go to a new grocery store and I wanted to make a caramel cake. I have never made one from scratch, and the icing takes a long while to make, for it must simmer for about two hours. There was a lot to do, for we were not short on lofty notions.
Lyla always celebrates my arrival by running in to my arms and then hugs me for a long while. It is always a wonderful feeling-to know you are so loved. Brynn has been warming up to me over the last month and now she is quite satisfied in my arms. One thing, I can say with certainty, is that it is a wonderful blessing to be a grandparent.
Jenny and I started switching the clothes out on Friday morning. I had forgotten that Jenny has a small group of mothers that pass clothes along to one another. There were four or five bins to sort. Each bin was holding the maximum amount of little dresses, coats pajamas, socks and every other article of clothing you can imagine. First we sorted by size, then by season. Of course, first we had to sort through the clothes. the girls had out grown. Stacks of clothes soon filled the bedroom, for mothers, with younger children and ones for Brynn to grow in to. It took all day just to get to that point. Then it was time to wash all to be used. That happened on Saturday. As we went along, we cleaned the closet out, as it seemed foolish not to do so. Now here it is Sunday morning and there is still one bin left!
There was a lot of activity amongst the birds this morning. There were doves and the robin that sits on the fence surveying the goings and comings of everyone, was in his usual post. He always sits in the same spot, and does not stir from it, in my presence. There were sparrows and wrens – and some noisy blackbirds. A pair of cardinals were frantically on some mission and then . . .I saw the Tanager. I had to look twice. He was as red as could be, and made the cardinals “pale in comparison”. I have only seen these birds a time or two, in the last few years. I do hope, he decides to stay.
Will and Jenny met friends for brunch. Will has had such loss recently, first his beloved mother, then someone he admired, a mentor and a friend -and last week he lost his oldest and best friend to a sudden and fatal pancreas attack. Well, the friends of Will and Jenny just wanted to do something to lift their spirits, hence, a brunch. The little girls stayed with me and it was a delightful and calm hour.
When they all returned, I walked to Miss Thelmas’ for a quick visit. She has a birthday, this coming Sunday, on the same day as Christian! Miss Thelma is turning ninety-five! She has been planning a party, for weeks. She showed me her napkins and she has party favors for all of the children. Her church will host the event. I am playing the violin, at her request, during the service. I am trying to persuade Christian to play with me. A good guitarist, like love, does cover a “multitude of sins”. I helped Miss Thelma choose an outfit and listened to her grand plans. It made me glad to see her so full of joy and anticipation. Jenny and I started on the last of the clothing, when I got back.
It took all afternoon, to wash and place the clothes in the drawers and closet -or into a half dozen piles with different destinations. By evening. the piles were packed and some sent on their way. The upstairs bedroom was orderly at last. Jenny and I were so tired, that we ordered supper out. Lyla was tired too, from trying on one dress after another . . . and shoes . . .and coats. I took a shower and told Jenny, how good it felt and that I was restored, body and soul, from those wicked stairs and sitting on the floor for hours. When Jenny got her shower, I asked happily how she felt and she said . . . “exhausted.”
Another thing I can say with certainty, is that Lyla and Brynn do not need any clothing for the next several seasons -and at this rate, Brynn may never need anything til she is in the fourth grade! It is a sensible practice, but it does require an amazing amount of effort. . .and so I never did make that caramel cake.
It rained again that night. Rain fell and muted the street lights. There was wind too. Lyla watched the young willow, from the nursery willow. The bare tendrils swirled gracefully. Lyla loves the willow. She loves to play under it when the leaves fill the branches, for it makes the perfect canopy to dance beneath-or to have a tea party. Lylas was upset that the willow was bare, so I explained to her that the earth was just resting. Now, Lyla loves the willow, but the other day, she was in the back yard talking to a little fig tree. I heard her say “Grow little tree!” I know you can!” Jenny says that Lyla often talks to the fig tree. I may be the only grandmother alive, that would say so, but this thrilled me with no end. It will come as no surprise that I talked to trees when I was but a child. It came about quite naturally. . .and I still do.
Before I left Elizabeth City, I noticed a few green, tender leaves on one of the branches of Lylas’ willow tree. I told her and she ran to the porch to see for herself.
Dear Rabbitpatch Diary, In a world so changed, from the one I knew, and I fear, some beauty lost , . . . I will remain hopeful . . for as long as children talk to trees. . . there is hope.