Typically the forecast for April, is “rain, likely” . . hence the saying. “April showers bring May flowers” – Today was no exception. With that being said, I started a fire in the garden . . .again. There is but one corner left now, to burn. I put the house plants out to collect the rain. Not long afterwards, a gentle rain began falling.
Christian was up early, as usual. He took a look out and said “It’s a good day for you to write.” I do not know why, but I do especially, like to write when it is raining. Rain hushes a farming community and so the rabbitpatch is quiet and so very conducive to thinking great thoughts or entertaining notions, when it rains . and I do like to get still, more than ever these days.
I grew up in a world, where you worked steadily and made the most of your time, but rushing was limited to bad weather coming, and clothes were on the line or there were strawberries that had to be picked for company. Rushing was not a habit, in those days. Now, we live in a world of convenience . Folks, mostly buy their berries and very few yards have a clothes line. Yet, everyone is in a hurry. Porches are seldom occupied and supper is often from a bag . . and I declare, we have lost, something beautiful.
Of course, in spring, I am least likely to rush. I do not want to miss “the time of the singing of birds” nor the sweetness in the air. Should I live to see a hundred springs, I will not get my fill .
Since, it was raining, I concentrated on housekeeping. I made a bold decision. I packed my winter clothes up – shoes and all. (This is surely a testament that I believe in Spring . . . and the sale of the house. ) The only thing I have had to unpack, since my huge packing up, in the fall . . was my spring clothes. I have been quite surprised, at this, for there are at least forty boxes, scattered through out the farmhouse. They are in every corner, stacked neatly and labeled. Of course, I have not made a trifle or done any decorating in a long while. The china cabinet looks dismal, without a thing to brag about. So do the bookshelves, but all and all, we have still lived comfortably.
I tackled the linen closet next. This was an easy task as I had at least cleaned it out. Packing up the few extra sheets took no time. In the meantime, a man came to fix the lawn mower. The repairman was kind and fair, thankfully. Though it was raining, he mowed a streak or two, to show me his success. Now, I must wait, for a fair day. No matter, my enthusiasm, . . I will mow around the flowers .
Sunday was born like a lullaby, softly sung. The birds did not even raise a ruckus as the light shyly ascended on the rabbit patch. Not long after, I rose, it started to rain. I still love rain. We have had the rainiest year on the local record, but this has not dimmed my love for rain a bit. Of course, I love sunshine, and clear bright evenings, but the sound of a gentle rain, has a beauty too. Many times, I have planted flowers in a spring rain. It is a an awful mess, but the best insurance of success with the young plants, that I know of. I do not like to drive in rain, though.
What delightful moments, the season affords! On Monday, the first rose of the season, bloomed at the rabbit patch. It is a fragrant , yellow rose and was quite a surprise for me. Another good thing about Monday, was that at long last, the rabbit patch territory got mowed. I hummed as I cooked supper, listening to the sound of the mower. (Kyle did the honors.) How it lifted my heart to see the rabbit patch being restored to its’ former glory. There is still much left to be done, but there is less than there was.
On Tuesday, I heard a whippoorwill sing. Few things are sweeter in the evening air, than the song of the whippoorwill. He sings as if all is right in the world . I remember clearly, listening to the whippoorwill, in the quiet evenings of childhood. In the lazy hours, after supper, we would often sit outside til dark. Mostly, the low hushed voices of the adults made me drowsy. The later it got, the less anyone said anything. We would always look for the first star and then the big dipper before we went in.
I doubt any one of us, would have ever guessed that a half century later, the simple substance of those evenings, would still be treasured- more so than any “Kings’ ransom”. or written about. After all, no one could have convinced us, then, that “our way” would be lost, nor that . . . those evenings in spring, would have made all the difference, for me. Dear Diary, Bless that whippoorwill, that made me remember.
Sunshine has been scarce the last dew days. Spring is full of flowers – and rain. Though we did have, a fleeting storm, Monday night, mostly the showers have been light. Days are born in mist and how lovely the blossoms are in mist, I think. Suddenly, the woods are green! They are the color of jade now, as the trees are adorned with young leaves, The dogwood has a few blossoms, too. . . and now, the birds sing, celebrating the time “when flowers appear on the earth.” You would think, that all of this splendor, would make for a merry heart, naturally. . . but yesterday, I cried.
Being sentimental, I will cry at the drop of a hat . . .at beauty. Kind words, make my heart well up as does acts of kindness. When something good happens to someone, I cry tears of joy, whether I know them, or not. This has always been so . .but this was not the circumstances, yesterday. Yesterday, I cried because the lawn mower wouldn’t start!
Kyle was caught completely off guard, by my behavior and stood there looking stunned. Before, you consider me totally mad or “fragile”, be aware that the territory is about three acres of yard – and I went through this all of last summer. Had it not been for my neighbor, Susan, I do not know what I would have done. If the grass gets too high, you will need a tractor, which mows it like a hay field -and it is very costly. It is no small thing to be behind in mowing, on the rabbitpatch, and I am just weary of this predicament. Still, it was much ado for an untidy yard. I did apologize to Kyle for my outlandish display, but I am ashamed, that recovery,did not come swiftly. I counted my blessings – and I have so many. This is the best remedy I know of, for such occasions. By the time I went out, to bid the world, good night, I had calmed down from my tantrum, and felt foolish.
The stars were out, after all and the faint smell of clover hung sweetly, in the cool air. There was a chorus being sung, by tiny little night creatures -and a killdeer pierced the dark, with great excitement. An evening in Spring, is lovely.
I slept soundly, and convinced myself , that in spite of myself, all was well. Life is more than one moment, thankfully.
I rose the next morning, to an “early bird” singing like his life depended on it. It mattered little to him, that it was still pitch dark. It mattered even less, to him that the grass needed cutting. A new day was just over the horizon and so he sang an especially sweet prelude, because of it. Today, I would not be ill tempered, I promised the Heavens.
A few hours later, I was driving past the quiet pastures and the fields of winter wheat. The emerald grain, is now knee deep. Sunlight flooded the fields in long slanted rays and the once, bright corners of the field, are now shaded.
At school, the children are telling of sightings of young bunnies and finding kittens. . . .a sure sign of April. I remember finding kittens as a child. It was a joyous affair and we would spend a morning trying to catch them, for they were feral as could be. None of the adults ever shared our enthusiasm for the discovery of wild kittens, under a barn. I do not know what Grandmama held against cats, but as it turns out, Mama is scared of them! She is to this day and don’t you know that there is more than one story about that. I did not find this out, til many years after childhood. I knew that when we we would run in the little farmhouse full of excitement,at our find, the adults shared odd glances, with one another, that became familiar over the years. No matter what, children can never be convinced that finding a litter of kittens, is not a sheer and divine stroke of good luck.
Only one kitten was ever tamed. It was a calico and I thought she was beautiful. I named her “Frosty”. She never did allow us to hold her, but she like to be petted. To this day, I love calico cats.
The week passed, with every day fairer than the one before it. It is no wonder to me that people fall in love so easily, in months like April, for the earth itself, seems to encourage it, with the lilacs blooming , butterflies wafting along and all the nest building. Such things conjure up tender thoughts and soften hearts, in the young. . .and in the poets.
Surely the wild hyacinths, do their part, to lend enchantment to the season. A few are blooming by the garden, as they always do. They smell every bit as good as their fancy cousins, even if they aren’t as regal. Beyond the garden . . .the white tufts of clover are abundant. I love the smell of clover – almost as much as the roses in June. Some people do not like the hodgepodge look of such a yard. Many will go to great lengths, to rid their yard of “Aprils’ flowers”, but it is but a few short weeks of the whole year . . so mine abide. . .and the bees are happy.
Somehow, I was able to live up to my conviction, this week and not pitch another single fit. I do hope this is not a short lived affair – for life itself, is a short lived affair. . . .really a sacred one. One of the most beautiful and brave things we can do, is to live authentically, recognizing our truth. . . and some times our truth may not be so charming, and may include things like tantrums. . . but truth is always of great value, for it acts as a compass of sorts, and shows us our short comings, so that with practice, we will get along better as we go.
Besides, there are too many loved ones in my world -and too many hyacinths to waste a moment . There are the fields and the woodlands . . .and a laughing river. There are the robins and young rabbits, to consider . . .and there is “April”.
Dear rabbitpatch Diary, Might I dwell on “whatever is true,whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, and whatever is lovely’ . . . always.
Lyla turned four years old on Thursday. On Friday, Tres picked me up after school and we were on the way to Elizabeth City to celebrate. Brant and Sydney joined us on Saturday. Lyla had gotten her first bike, from Will and Jenny, and so it rained, as it often does, when children get a bike. We were set to attend a festival too, which seems to evoke rain, as well. Not to be outdone, Jenny concocted a last minute plan to go to an indoor facility with all sorts of games and activities -and so, Lyla soon forgot all about the band and the petting zoo, she was looking forward to.
Afterwards, we all came back to the house for cake and ice cream amongst Lylas’ beloved decorations. Lyla is such a domestic soul, after all. She loves her dolls, cooking and just like her grandmother, Miss Claudia loved to decorate for occasions. Miss Claudia had a wreath hung for every holiday-including sporting seasons. Lyla, I expect will follow suit.
The cake was presented with great ceremony, which thrilled Lyla. Since the rain had let up, Will took Lyla with a doll, in her basket, out to practice riding her bike. The little boys found a mud hole to play in. The littlest boy, eventually took most of his soiled clothing off, which really tickled me. He was but a few months older than Lyla, after all, and childhood affords such liberty. When the guests left, Tres and i cooked supper . He did the grilling and I worked in the kitchen, while Jenny gave the girls a bath, for Lyla had chocolate, from head to toe. When at long last, the children and the kitchen were clean, a peace settled in . Lttle Brynn, has a cold and she went fast to sleep. I looked in on Sydney and Lyla snuggled in a bed watching old cartoons and the young men were watching a ballgame, quietly, against all odds. Dear Diary, My heart was so happy.
I can scarce take in that Lyla is four! I watched her riding her little bicycle and marveled at the slyness of time. It is startling to consider. I know first hand, that children grow up in “a flash” , and as it turns out, so do grandchildren. Oh, I shouldn’t waste a single hour of this beautiful life!
I got up early on Sunday. First there was the breakfast and I planned on making a Mexican soup for folks to carry home with them. Brant and Sydney had to leave early and Tres couldn’t tarry, either. While the coffee brewed, I went out and was greeted by the tanager. It was good to see he had stayed. Oh how I wished to see his mate, but the yellow bird does not venture far from her nest.
True to their word, all did rise pretty early. There was a scurry of showers – and suitcases and bags were being brought out. Car keys were laying in plain sight, and oh, how it all dampened my spirit. Jenny and I packed a box with cake and soup for Brant and Sydney. We hugged several times, as if we lived on different continents (which makes me shudder, to think about) and Lyla cried. By the time, Brant and Sydney had driven a mile, Tres said we would need to leave shortly.
Tres had a long drive ahead of him. He works a full time job and goes to school full time. Tres writes papers, that I can not made heads nor tails of-He certainly does not write about such things as violets and young rabbits. I knew right from the start , that Tres was the intellectual sort, for he “wondered” about everything, from a young age. Still, he will waltz with Lyla and coo back to little Brynn. He also loves to cook and travel.
Lyla and I made a dash to visit with Miss Thelma, before I had to leave. I had given Lyla a lesson on visiting etiquette. I prefaced it with “since you are four . . ” and Lyla took it very seriously. She followed every rule, which took great restraint. Miss Thelma was pleased to see a well mannered young child -and so was I. In the “old days”, when I was a child, manners were taught with great diligence. I can remember my grandmama saying ” Even if you didn’t have good sense, you ought to know how to act.” Adults would stop in mid conservation, to correct a careless child, for it was that important. When we came back home, and Lyla was in “earshot” I told everybody of her success. Only God knows what will happen next time, but today was a victory!
Tres and were back at the rabbitpatch, by one. We had listened to a lecture on the way there, but on the way back, we talked. I listened to my sons’ dreams of living out west for a while, and then California, maybe go back to Europe . . .for he has already done quite a bit of wandering. My heart lurched at the prospect of all this traveling, but I encouraged him anyway. My son was speaking his truth and above all, I want my children to live their truth. He softened every new dialogue, with “but I will always come back home, a lot, Mom.”
It was a beautiful day. Dogwoods dotted the countryside. Wisteria and jasmine adorned the edges of the woodlands. Great clouds of pollen gusted through the air. It was spring and the little wildflowers blooming all along the roadside were proof of of it.
The rabbitpatch was mighty quiet after all of the commotion of the last few days. My azaleas and dogwoods were not yet blooming. The sycamore was covered in new tender green leaves. The spirea had faded a bit. The hydrangeas were starting to leaf out and some of the running periwinkle was blooming. Birds were singing and chattering. You would have thought the rabbitpatch community was all in cahoots to cheer me up . . but it didn’t work.
It never fails, after a gathering with my children. I am downtrodden and melancholy, when we part. I am not a foolish young mother . . .I am an OLD foolish mother. Why I have not ‘grown out of this” is beyond me. I miss them every one thoroughly -and I wish I had made more soup. I wish I had tucked little love notes in their bags and on and on I go working myself into a sad state. I didn’t make the pancakes for Lyla and I left laundry for Jenny and poor little Brynn has a cold! Oh, if only they all came in for supper every night, I could manage.
Being an old hand at mourning, after a holiday, I knew the remedy. I reminded myself how blessed I was to have my children. They are loving and devoted children to me . . . and very importantly, to one another. We do not quarrel, but instead lift one another up. We are as likely to boast on each other, as anything. . . and as Tres says . . .”They all come home . . .and often.
There are few things as pleasant as waking when you please, to a choir of songbirds. Add to that, an open window, with a soft breeze blowing, causing the pines to whisper . . .and a faithful dog sleeping by you.
Duty always calls at the rabbitpatch, and today is no different. I started several tasks yesterday, that need to be finished, not only the garden fire, but I also started on another deep cleaning in a room. . .I hope to finish today. There is just something about the liberty of doing things, when you see fit.
When “the spirit moved me”, I pulled the bed in the bedroom, that I was cleaning, to the center of the room. You would have thought, this had never been done before, for it was beyond dusty. All of this was cleaned before Christmas, when Kyle was on a “leave of absence”! He came back just a few months ago and couldn’t possibly have accomplished this mess! I declare, I could have grown potatoes right there in that corner, the bed stands in!
Oh how wonderful I felt, when a few hours later, the room fairly sparkled and smelled so clean. clean cotton and orange may be my favorite housekeeping scent. I smelled clean, too, for I sloshed a good deal from the bucket, on myself- and I am sure there were cobwebs in my hair. There are two rooms left, for the next time, “the spirit moves me”.
At noon, I still had some gumption, so I decided to finally clean up a corner of the rabbitpatch, which I had been dreading for months. Everything not nailed down through the winter, was in that corner. The leaves were a foot deep and odd shaped things poked out in places. Only God knew what lurked in the heap, so I hit the pile, with a broom, and made some racket. This alerted the boxer, who came bounding to protect me from . . just some trash and branches. I admired his gallant effort, anyway.
I had dumped three wheelbarrows, when the rain came. Big droplets fell hard and quite suddenly. There were at least a dozen more loads left, but at least I had started.
I was cooking a quick lunch, when the rain stopped. It took some convincing, but I willed myself to go back out and pick up where I left off. I was already dirty and so it made sense to work til another shower fell. I could not burn, but I could haul. Truthfully, I was never going to be in the mood to do this task. . .my track record was proof of that.
I do not know how many trips, I made to the garden-more than the dozen, I had guessed. At one point, I seemed to be in a mechanical trance. I would dump the load, smell the cherry blossoms and trudge back to the shrinking heap of now, muddy leaves. Oddly, I do not remember thinking about anything as I worked, except being too cool, from the raindrops and willing myself to go on. I kept waiting for rain, so I could stop without feeling guilty. It never rained again. The temperature dropped, the wind picked up, but not a drop fell and so I finished . . .and I was glad.
Now you can believe, that I slept soundly that night. I knew Monday was coming . . .and that always changes everything.
This Monday, was a work day for teachers. I usually take those days off, to stroll by the “laughing river” with Lyla or bake cookies. Sadly, Will lost his grandmother, a few days ago. The funeral was this weekend in a town southwest of Wilmington-about three hours away. This is Wills’ third significant loss, since Christmas. “Miss Mildred” was so dear to him. I admired Will, for all the times he visited her, even at that distance. Will has lost his mother, grandmother and his oldest friend in just a few months. What a series of tragedies, for this young man. Such seasons are life altering and I intend to comfort Will, as best I can. I consider Will my fifth son, after all.
When I drove up to the rabbitpatch, after work, I immediately saw that the pile of wood and shingles had been put away. These things were left over from a previous repair. They had set there, for months, ruining the look of the place. I almost cried, I was so happy. Kyle and Christian, spurred on, by my work yesterday, had moved them to a proper location, in the barn. Clean up after the winter, on a property this size, is not for the faint of heart. . . and we are not finished, by any means, but I have hope now- and Dear Diary,hope is so very golden.
On the drive home, I had noticed the fields of winter wheat. This is my favorite crop to watch grow, though when the cotton blossoms, that is lovely too. Just now the tender wheat is an emerald green. In the shade, it almost looks blue. In a few months, the wheat will turn golden . No matter, the stage of the cycle of wheat, it is bound to make you want to kneel right there.
Daddy has an appointment today. The forecast was for a cold rain and a lot of wind to follow. The mountains got snow, and so I thought of my friend “Sweet Anne”.
Sweet Anne is a hostess to somebody constantly . She walks everyday at the crack of dawn, and watches her little neighbor, board the bus. Otherwise, she is visiting waterfalls, dining out or listening to world renown choirs.
Now, the cold rain fell as predicted, all morning. Thankfully, Daddy got a good report. It took everything in me, but I went to the grocery, afterwards. I really tried to think of something I could cook tonight, but we were out of milk, which stopped the biscuits and the pancakes and the creamed potatoes. I did not have tomato sauce, which meant no spaghetti and besides that, we needed dog food! No matter what I could concoct for supper, it always came back to that dog food. There was no way out of it, I was going to the grocery.
I drove back , past the winter wheat field, that I love, to the rabbitpatch where things are blooming and the yard needs mowing -where supper would soon be cooking -and the roof wasn’t leaking . . .where a warm love abides and takes the chill from a cold, April rain.