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.