I do not believe, I have ever seen a more beautiful spring, for this one lingers. Mostly, a southern spring is a few weeks of pleasant weather and then it is hot and full of humidity. Not so, this year. The whole week has hosted days filled with sunshine and nights just cool enough for a light blanket. The mornings warrant a light sweater. Birds sing day and night. . .and now the magnolia blooms, lending a sweet fragrance to the air. Rain has tapered to an occasional shower, making each day, the perfect day for a picnic.
It remains busier than usual at school. The grand event, of the dances from around the world, is tomorrow and so that will lighten my duties, considerably. There are mere weeks left in the school year anyway. I tell myself, that someday soon, I will read books again and think about things like geraniums and curtains. , ,and on some morning, maybe a Tuesday, I will stroll with my grandchildren. by the laughing river. These are the kind of things, I hope for.
The contents of a life have great variation. What satisfies one person, seems dull to another and unfulfilling. Even a single lifetime varies from one season to another. What was once necessary, no longer is. What was once sought, is no longer desired. Our needs change and our values may as well. Sometimes, we must broaden our former thoughts and sometimes, we may need to use greater precision. Hopefully, we refine our lives as we go along and discard accordingly, else our own authenticity may be hidden from plain sight. I have often wondered if finding our own truth, and daring to live it, may be the quest of mankind. What if it really were as simple as that?
On Friday, the day dawned bright. The forecast promised ideal weather for the open air program. Since, one of the dances, featured a may pole, this was especially good news. I spent the whole day consumed in details and answering questions. It was more exhausting, than dancing with the children. . .and a lot less fun.
The program was held in the evening, just as the sun hung low on the horizon. Every class performed exceptionally well and so I went home “as happy as a lark”.
Daybreak on Saturday, was a far cry from the cool dawns of the past week days. All of my bragging about the spectacular weather, must cease now, as the temperatures have risen to “about hot” and is expected to remain so, from here on. In this case, I packed the rest of the blankets away, today. The prospective buyer, who has seen the house before, is coming this week-maybe tomorrow. I have been in a state of limbo, for such a long while, that I am used to it. Of course, it would be wonderful if the thing works out, but if it doesn’t . . .well there are worse things, than living on this rabbitpatch. Up until a few short years ago, you couldn’t “have moved me with a shovel”! When ever, the affair, is over, I will write about the “accident” that landed me here, in the first place. . . (and by “accident” I mean, “Divine Intervention”).
Will and Jenny came in town for a birthday celebration. They met me at my parents’ house, to drop the little girls off. Brant and Sydney were with them, and so there was a “short, but sweet” reunion for me. Sydney is “fairly glowing” these days. Being “with child” agrees with her. It has been several long weeks, since I have seen Lyla and Brynn, which is way too long for any of us. It nearly melted my heart, to hear Lyla call out “Honeybee!” and dive in to my arms. Brynn, was a bit unsure, but managed to smile, when I started to sing, “You are my Sunshine”.
Mama showed Lyla a bird nest, full of baby robins. What a pretty picture, they made, walking “hand -in hand” in the long slanted rays of late day sunshine. Later, there was “hide and seek” and then supper. Brynn was growing less tolerant and finally, she cried. No amount of swinging or singing consoled her. Brynn wanted her mama, and no one else would do. Mama built a tower of wooden blocks, and Brynn did hush and watch intently. In moments, Jenny walked in and all was well with Brynn, again, at that moment.
I drove home under the “Flower Moon”, – whose name has a lovely ring to it. There it was, above the fields like a golden lantern, shining its’ light on all peoples, animal wild and tame, wildflowers and fancy roses . . .old trees and saplings, alike. Oh, if we were all as generous as that dear “Flower Moon”!
Dear Rabbitpatch Diary- I am grateful for nests of baby birds and magnolias . . and days fit for picnics. and . . . the light of a blue moon.
The Sunday, that we call Mothers’ Day, began with a light rain. I slept a bit later, because of that. Few things are as pleasant, as waking to rain, and no place to have to go.
Tres had called last night, and we had a long deep conversation. We talked about all sorts of things from “the state of the nation” to the Bible , the environment and current research in medicines . . .and space. We talked about Einstein, too-well we talked for a while. A conversation with Tres, is never dull. He will call again today with warm greetings, as he can not come home. At least, he is finished with school, for a short time.
Christian had to work today. Will and Jenny are on a vacation. Kyle is away and so my holiday , will be with Brant and Christian, when Christian gets out of the “rat race”. We decided to eat at home, as I can not bear the thought of any restaurant on Mothers’ Day. It is the worst day of the year, I know of, to eat out. Besides, I will take any chance I can get, to cook for my children.
In light of all this, the morning was calm and quiet at the rabbitpatch. I took full advantage of the lack of duties. I knew full well, that a lot of folks were already busy preparing for gatherings, but I did not envy them one bit. It soothed me deeply to have a morning lacking details. Certainly, I am all for, celebrating our mothers, and I suppose that I would be singing a different tune, if my clan was all able to get here.
Rest assured I consider, motherhood, one of the most sacred states, that this life offers. For me, being a mother, has been the blessing, that I hold most dear. . .and I will be the first to say, that having a good mother is sterling . . . I ought to know, as my own mother is just that.
My mothers’ generation did not lament over the work of raising children and running a home. Mama never “announced” the almost daily sacrifices she made, nor “denying her own dreams” to be a mother. Truthfully, I do not believe she considered, putting her childrens’ needs first, a sacrifice and I think being a mother, may have been her dream. I admit, I agree with her. Mama made being a mother, “a valuable contribution, to this earth” and one to take seriously. It is hard for me to think of a more noble endeavor, myself. After all, what does it matter if we own a kingdom, or rule a dynasty, if our children are spending a childhood in the shadows of such accomplishments?
Motherhood is a complicated affair, and no matter how and the decade we do it, it takes the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job. Parents, must be a “jack of all trades” and today, more than ever, maybe. There is an overload of available information, that convinces us , we are bound to do something wrong. Unfortunately, many families are often not even in close proximity, any longer, and so young parents, are without the constant and vital support of previous generations. Things like fevers, and teething, poison ivy and bee stings take a toll, on young shoulders. . .and that is only the beginning.
When our children are little, we are far busier than we will ever be again. We do our best to teach them to become independent. We are consumed, in those early years, with the numerous details that go along with the days. Then, the children really do grow up . . .and it seems, in a flash! Suddenly, there are less settings at the table and the laundry is more manageable. Bedrooms are cleaned and stay that way. Now mothers have to adjust, to that. The once, constant activity slows now, and so mothers get still, so everyone else can move. It has always been this way . Some things do not change. Some things really are the same, every where. Motherhood, is an understanding, that could bind women, from every continent, from every way of life, together.
No matter, how times have changed, no matter how circumstances are presently, the thing that remains, that covers us all, is love, and that is the greatest inheritance we can bestow, upon our children. I have said it before, but it bears repeating . .and remembering . . “If you were born, to a good mother, then “you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth.”
When May came, it did not come “empty handed”, but instead bearing gifts. Surely, nature is at its’ finest, just now. Every day has been drenched in golden sunlight. “The heavens have been declaring the glory of God . . and the firmament, His handiwork.” Dappled shade falls on the territory, where a few short weeks ago, it did not. Every day is born with cool air that is filled with melody. . .and something blooms everywhere.
Now, the wild honeysuckle blossoms sweetly taint the night air and the fireflies, which we call “lightening bugs” – are out in great numbers, flashing in the pines. If the days are golden, then the nights are surely silver.
Now is the time to buy geraniums and strawberries. Blankets sought in January, now are packed away and window fans hum softly, at the rabbitpatch. Even the kitchen table reflects the season, for chowders and roasts smothered in gravy, will now be replaced with lighter fare.
No matter how mindful I remain of this lovely season, one day seems to turn in to another “behind my back”! I am quite busy at work, as is usual for the last weeks, in any school. I am also busy at the rabbitpatch, where the fence needs mending and the grass grows unreasonably fast. Most every day, the boxer and I take an evening walk around the territory to survey the unfolding beauty of the landscape -and to note what ought to be done next. Still, the days pass and when I do look at a calendar, I am always shocked!
One evening, I noticed the “Mothers’ Day” rose ,was beginning to blossom. The pale pink roses are the small roses, like that of the “ladybanks” rose. The sprawling bush climbs a fence in the corner of the “Quiet Garden” and blooms faithfully at “Mothers’ Day” . . hence, my name for it. That is why I looked at the calendar, at all. In light of the news, my sisters and I met Thursday and went out to eat, with Mama and Daddy, at a local restaurant. Connie, a nurse had been in class all day. Connie is much younger than, I am, and I suppose that is how she mustered the energy, to join us. Delores, lives near Raleigh, and had driven in that day. Both of my sisters are able to honor busy schedules, while I am not. In contrast, I am on a mission to declutter my life, as if it were a pantry! Still, “Mothers’ Day” is upon us and my own dear mother, deserves her day.
On Sunday, my sister, Connie is hosting a picnic, at her home on Lake Phelps. Mama and Daddy are going to that. Connie and husband Mike, will cook for an army, that day, as if it were a “second nature”. We are all invited. My own children, who “take after their mother” are still working on the plan . . . for tomorrow! Will and Jenny are leaving today for a vacation – or else Jenny would have herded her brothers, like a devoted shepherd, and covered details. Jenny, born second of the five, has always been like a “second mother to her brothers. I see her now with Lyla and Brynn, and declare she is a natural at the art of mothering. Thankfully, Jenny is loving AND sensible, with her own children and her brothers, who often depend on her advice. My children are devoted to me . . .and to one another . . and this thrills me to no end.
On Saturday morning, I had some housekeeping to do, and the list compiled from my mental notes, taken on the evening strolls, around the rabbitpatch. I have a party, quite interested in buying the rabbitpatch, coming this week. Though, I haven’t a bit of the former anxiety, regarding the sale of the place, I do want things tidy. The truth is, I want things tidy, anyway. I like things in a proper place. I am not opposed to a jacket on a sofa or a pair of shoes, by the door, but I do like order. My pocketbook is the only exception to that rule, for that has always been an impossible quest, for me. Money is tossed in, like I have plenty of it and there are often chocolate wrappers, and receipts for all sorts of things. There is always a book, in case I have to wait, for something, somewhere-and a small notebook to write in, for notions strike me at odd times. My mothers’ pocketbook, on the other hand is a wonder, all to itself.
I have read several essays on aprons- and their many uses, besides cooking. They hold apples and eggs, and even dry tears . Grandmamas’ apron did those things and more – and when my Aunt Josie died, I asked for her faded , thin apron. . . but my mothers’ pocketbook even rivals an apron. That pocketbook still hold all sorts of remedies. There are band aids, tissues and, if a headache or a sore throat, a nagging cough or pangs of hunger arise . . the remedy is in that pocketbook. There is a stash of money hidden in some dark corner of it, folded neatly . . .just in case . . and things for nails and hair. I think if you wanted to write and mail a letter, the supplies for that . .are likely, in there. In fact, for all I know, there could be an apron – in that pocketbook. . .along with a rain bonnet, of course. I simply, can not live up to my Mamas’ “cure all” pocketbook.
By noon, I was sure I had done a full days’ work. The light of day did not offer any indication of the hour, as clouds had muted any chance of telling time by the sun. Lunch revived me enough to plow on and I ended up, accomplishing enough, to have a holiday tomorrow – no matter what plans, unfold.
It has been a while, since I had a day without some sort of obligation or some place to be . Under such circumstance, I was drinking coffee at the “morning table”, when the day arrived. I listened to the mockingbird sing a prelude, and watched the sun rise, shyly over the old barn. The fragrance of morning, drifted in the open window and this day I could smell the wild privets blooming in the young woods.
For a while, the world was a silent and peaceful place, then a dove took flight, and shattered the spell with its’ alarm of impending doom. When a dove coos, I declare it as a beautiful sound as this world offers. His song is capable of putting one in a trance , in a total state of contentment . . .when the dove flies, its’ song could startle a rock! The dove always seems in a state of panic, when it flies.
Last night I heard a “Bobwhite”. I am convinced, I will always feel young when I hear a bobwhite, for a flood of memories wash over me like a sudden rain, every time. I do not know why, but learning about birds, was as important as learning your abcs when I was a child. The lesson on the bobwhite has remained vivid in my mind throughout the many passing decades. The bobwhite sings his name and if you whistle back, he will answer! I clearly remember when Daddy demonstrated this. I was quite young and was amazed that when Daddy whistled back, the Bobwhite did too! Now, I have never been able to really whistle. Kyle can whistle with clear trills and on pitch. My whistle sounds like something is in dire need – and it is almost too late. . .however the bobwhite , is a courteous bird and will answer the most feeble attempt. I do not hear a bobwhite, without calling back . . .and also remembering the unfaded magic of those long ago twilights.
By mid morning, clouds had moved in, making the constant breeze cool and so very pleasant. I have the usual chores to accomplish and in addition, there is that one last room in the farmhouse, that needs to be scrubbed. I am also going to tend to those awful vines at the back of the property, for left unchecked, they can give shade in just days! There is also the small pasture, now vacant, since the grand children were born. It needs to be mowed. If “idle hands are the devils’ workshop”, as Grandmama used to warn us, then I suppose the rabbitpatch has been a remedy for that.
Not long after noon, I tackled the vines. It is a dreaded task, as you must cut and then pull the hateful, itchy things off their victims. A the same time you are looking out for snakes and bees that sting. The day was almost sultry, on top of that. Of course there was more work to be done than I thought behind the barn. I decided to take a break. On the way to the house, I passed the cherry tree and to my delight-there were cherries on it!! Now, not enough to make a pie, but it was the first time, the thing had produced fruit. I had taken the half dead tree from a neighbor, who had bought it, with good intentions, but left it in the pot a few years. I happened to be there, when they were tossing it in a burn pile and asked for it. That was almost a decade ago. Every year, the tree bore blossoms, but no fruit. I remained on good terms with the tree, as it was pretty in spring and so fragrant. I overlooked the absence of fruit . . and quit expecting it. I saw the cherries and forgot I was hot, dirty and tired!
Christian and I tackled the pasture in the late afternoon. The thick grass was knee deep and you had to mow painfully slow . We used a push mower, for that is what we had. We took turns so it wouldn’t kill either of us. We ran out of gas, with about ten minutes left of mowing. It was almost dark anyway.
I was tireder, afterwards, than I have been in a long time. A bath felt the best is has in a long time, , . .and the grilled cheese, for supper, well , that was the best, I could do.
When I first moved to the rabbitpatch, many days were like today. It mattered little to us, that we didn’t have TV, for we worked so hard, that after a bath and supper, we wanted to go to bed. My elders used to say “hard work never killed anybody” . . maybe that is true, but a few times, it at least came close to that. We made an entire garden, with shovels! It is a big garden sight, too. That was hard. There was the time, the Roofers came, and I had the bright idea, that to save money, we would do the clean up. That remains the hardest work that I have ever done and I was sorry, almost immediately. Shingles are heavy!! I was amazed at at how the young men would toss a bundle on their shoulder and then climb a ladder! By about day three, the yard was covered in broken shingles as we were way behind. When the crew drove up, I was out there with a bucket, picking up shingles and barely able to walk. The men jumped out of the truck, like spring chickens, and began spreading a huge blue tarp. Next, they began tossing the shingles in the middle of it. They told me just to throw what I could on the tarp. Well, this was a different game, altogether. Then, it dawned on me, that the tarp would have to be emptied and the horror of that, sunk in. In a state of panic, I asked, how that could happen? The crew said they would empty it . . .and hours later, after three days of watching them work, in that awful back breaking work, they did, To this day, I am full of admiration for roofers.
Another job, that tops my list, was making the path in the patch of young woods. We did everything by hand. We cut the trees, with hand saws. Then cut them up to burn. We removed vines that had trunks! The vines had been there for years and had choked many trees , that we were cutting. The vines clearly “owned the joint” . Removing the roots of the trees, with a hand tool, was maybe the worst job of all, and when we were successful, we would yell out to one another, our victory. One particular night, I was so tired, I didn’t think, that I could walk back to the house. I was filthy and my back was hurting, so that I stepped oddly. I came in, put a sheet on a sofa and laid down. I was too tired to even eat. The phone rang several times, but I was dozing and let it ring. Next my young neighbor, Molly came bounding in the back door, calling out “Michele, your barn is about to be on fire!” I sprang off the couch and nearly ran! Molly, was the one calling . . .and she was right about the circumstances. The fire I had started and put out, was made on peat soil and peat will burn underground. Smoke was rising in several places, a long ways from, the burn pile . Now, we had to carry water, in buckets from the house to the woods. Her children helped and they were so very young. Kyles’ friends drove up, and in the midst of their greetings, I interrupted and screamed, ” bring water!!” Hours later, it was all over. Molly had saved the barn . I have never made a fire, on that soil, since.
I remembered these things, tonight – and many other such occasions , of the same nature, as well. Of course, I was younger then and blissfully ignorant of what it would take to make a home, out of the remnants of a farm. . . but the rabbitpatch proved to me . . .that it can be done.
“Everything is coming up roses’ at the rabbitpatch! The rose bushes are full of blossoms and it makes a stroll through the territory a grand event . Miss Sylvias’ irises are blooming too. They are so named, in her memory. Their watery blue color is striking and so cheerful, at the entrance of the drive way. Now all of the grass is green and the lilies are up and full of promises. New leaves adorn the old trees and quiver tenderly in the constant breeze.
The morning dawned silvery. Not long after a light shower fell. Tres had spent the night here, but he had stayed up pretty late with , Kyle and Christian, for someone who was smoking pork at six am. Christian, was up first and he made extra coffee, as Tres loves coffee as much as I do.
I decided, to take it easy today and just do what was required for housekeeping. Maybe I would cut the wild vines as they grow with great vigor. It would at least keep them at bay, for a bit. I have often wished vegetables grew with the same vitality as those hateful vines. I had laundry washing, by the time Tres and Kyle were up. We had a light breakfast and then Tres went out to inspect the car and the mower. That is my Tres. He reminds me so much of my daddy, who always walked in my house and found repairs needed somewhere. Once, when Jenny was little, she piped up and said “Granddaddy, you just want something to be broke!” She was maybe four, but had learned the circumstances, – and ( had not learned to use the word, Broken, instead.) I still chuckle, remembering.
Tres left around mid afternoon and so the holiday was officially over. I did collect some branches, that were strewn again, all over the place – and I did cut some vines. I packed another box and that was about it. I also spent some time in front of a window fan, which I declare is as pleasant, as can be. It is a worthwhile practice and I look forward to using fans each year.
This time of year, at school we are preparing for the folk dance program. The dances come from all over the world. This means that I am outside all day watching the children perform and dancing with them often. On the day of the program, the children will don clothing that reflects the country they have been studying. They will also prepare foods and display art from places like Colombia, South Africa and the Dominican Republic. These days, I sleep especially well, but few things are as lovely, as children dancing in the sunshine , in spring.
The fireflies are back! With such good weather, I am back in the habit of going out each night to bid the world good night – and so I have seen them twinkling, this past week. The first one of the season, flew very close to my face, and I was sure a star was falling on me! It was startling – but I laughed a good bit later, about it. A night or two later, another thing happened . . . I keep the windows up, this time of year, and I heard rustling sound just outside the window, by my beloved morning table. I ignored it, but it kept getting closer and closer. The boxer didn’t seem concerned, but I was. Surely the sounds were footsteps and were approaching the back door. It was just after twilight, and I couldn’t see a thing, so at last, I mustered the courage to go see. I stepped cautiously out, and “screamed like a banshee” for a young rabbit hopped onto the door step with me !
Now, the sweetest month, May has arrived, like a well loved friend, that was sorely missed. It is no wonder to me that the birthstone for May is the emerald. . .for in May, the fields and woodlands are all shades of green and even the most hesitant flora, will bloom in May. This is the month for picnics, if there ever was one, for pesky creatures, like mosquitoes are scarce for now- and so are the dreaded flies of summer. Once, I brought a baby home in May and how delighted I was to sit on a front porch swing with Tres when he was but days old. Maybe it is for that reason, that I am very partial to May.
Every May, I remember, that children were allowed to go barefoot, on May 1st, when I was growing up. But in those days, of long ago, things were different. I was richly blessed with a lot of loving adults, who indulged us with rich memories. We were children, but highly involved in the day to day tasks, meals and all aspects of life on that little farm. Looking back, I do not know how the grown folks did it all. I learned nursery rhymes, songs and Bible verses in the old barn, and in the garden and in the kitchen. There was also the faithful clothes line and the back porch, where beans were snapped or shelled. Stories were told and songs were sung. We wrote our abcs’ in the dirt, for the first available adult to check. . .and the World Book Encyclopedias, was a required reading.
Sometimes, however, a task just did not require the assistance of a child and so we were sent to play untethered . . mostly. To keep us safe, all sorts of notions were put in our heads. If we played in the ditch (by the road) we would surely get the “ditch itch” – and that is the way, we were kept out of the road. No one ever talked to me about the possibilities of snakes or black widows, being under the house . . for the devil himself, lived there! I can say truthfully, not one of us met our demise under any house. The well would swallow a child whole, so none of us drowned either. If you stayed out after dark, you were not only late for supper, but there was the chance, that a bat would make a nest in your hair-hence no one was late for supper. We kept our shoes on too, . . .to avoid the “Hong Kong” flu, which would kill you, . . . before the first of May.
In this way, we all managed to live to grow up. . .and tell about it.
Dear Diary, I love the gentle, fair time of May, when the wild becomes tender and “flowers appear on the earth.”