I rose early on “Fathers’ Day”. It was the first day, I had been at the rabbitpatch, since school had adjourned. Will and Jenny were at the beach, Christian had to work, Brant was in the mountains . . .well everybody was somewhere else. I was cooking a “Sunday dinner” and taking stock of what project to tackle, this week.
The morning was quiet and unlike the mornings, I spent on the porch, at Jennys’. this past week. No one walks a dog in the “Farm Life” community. There are no joggers -or walkers, and certainly no skateboards going by the house. I can not imagine living in a major city, for even a small town, perched on the banks of a river, offers a life of contrast. I like both. I used to spend part of the summer time in Wilmington, which is not a small town. Brant lived in a townhouse community. The neighbors were a friendly lot and the place was full of old trees and flowers-and so tidy. I took walks daily, but other than that, I was “housebound”. Traffic there was a nightmare for me. There is no courtesy amongst drivers, for it seems they are everyone late for something. Whenever, I got a ride to a grocery, I made it count.
I cleaned the porch, while a load of laundry washed and a pot of green beans simmered. I heard my grandmothers voice, reminding me to “season the water first, before adding the beans”. I never understood this practice, but I practice it faithfully, because Grandmama did. Besides, Grandmama was an exceptional cook. She used ingredients of quality and cooked with a tender spirit and a gentle hand. She did not cook hurriedly, either. My eyes still sting, at her memory.
I made JoDees’ barbecued chicken , for that takes the better of two hours and potato salad for Mama, as with it being “Fathers’ Day”, the dishes most all, centered around Daddy. A cinnamon cake, chocked full of raisins, was baked for dessert. When it was all finished, the dishes were packed up like a grand picnic parcel for today I was bringing “Sunday dinner” to them.
Of course, I am bound to sing the praises of my dad to today, especially. When you are a child, and know no different, what a good father does, does not seem spectacular . My own dad worked-long and hard hours. Though we were taught to be thrifty and sensible, I was never made aware of any time there was a lack of money. I never heard my parent argue. “Sass” was not tolerated and “sass” included tone of voice and flippancy. Mama taught us sterling manners-Daddy made sure, we “minded” Mama. Daddy took fatherhood seriously. He was not the sort of man, to read books to us, though I do remember him reading me a “little Golden Book” which ironically, was “The Tale of Peter Rabbit- and another one . . “The Billy Goats Gruff”. Daddy taught us other things, not found in books. He taught us how to saddle our ponies, constellations . .and leaf and bird identification. He bought us sturdy shoes and winter coats, and flew kites with us. I could not appreciate such things, as a child. I had never gone without a good nights’ sleep, nor worked in sleet and hateful heat. I had no knowledge of what it meant to provide for another living soul. I was ignorant of working all the overtime you could, to buy dolls and tea sets for Christmas – and eating out of a lunch box, every day. Fathers do such things, at least mine did. . .and what a thankless job, it can be, for years.
Thankfully, I have lived long enough, to realise the advantage I have, in having a good father. Thankfully, he can know, my gratitude for it .
On Monday, I got up when I felt the notion-in spite of a clock. I still got up early, but to have the liberty of that decision, felt good. It was a clear morning. A young mimosa was blooming for the first time in a delicate shade of pink. The thing is full of feathery blossoms and though it grows in an inconvenient place, I haven’t the heart to remove it. . .and most especially, now. Mimosa trees are so common, here. They adorn the edges of field and wood- and come up in flower beds -and sidewalks. The trees are quite tropical looking, with palm like branches, that always mange to grow in a graceful canopy form. The abundance of the mimosa, does not decrease its’ value to me. I love them, as my grandmother did-and Jenny does now. I remember laying with Brant, under a mimosa, when he was but days old. It was one of the first times, he was outside, and I couldn’t wait to show him the beauty of the world, he’d come too.
I had two projects on my agenda -but didn’t attempt either of them. I dreaded both of the tasks, truthfully. One was painting the kitchen ceiling and the other was painting the front porch. I decided to put off, today, what might get done tomorrow. Besides I was weeks behind in reading and I have not written nearly as much as my heart desired, as of lately. I did cook, for I organised the freezer. There was nothing to discard, but plenty to cook. I washed some laundry, and I read page after page after page, til the rabbitpatch was bathed in moon shine – and at last, my obligations were satisfied.
On Tuesday, I behaved as I did on Monday, upon rising. Early light fell in bright splashes on the territory-so that was what time it was. I did not dally, but went straight away, to find the paint for the ceiling. I sat it out in plain sight, so that the gumption might well up inside me to paint that ceiling. In the meantime I put on a large pot of chicken to stew. I was wanting to try to make a chopped barbecue, using chicken. Now, this goes against my southern roots. Eastern NC barbecue is highly regarded as the best there is, and rightfully so. It is made painfully slow, with pork roasted over a wood fire. Stewed chicken, is a far cry, from that, but I had some recently-and liked it. I will season it, and chop it, as if it were pork . . and hope for the best, though I may not breathe a word of it, to my neighbors.
By noon, I was sick of ladders and painting, altogether. It was also apparent that it would take the best part of the day to finish. . . . longer than I had expected. . .like everything else, I start. Since the cabinets are white, the bright ceiling made them appear dingy. There was nothing to do, but to paint them too. I took a good many breaks, but each time that I climbed down, meant another time to climb up, too. I wanted to stop many times, but I knew I could finish it today. When the kitchen is closed down -well, it is awful around here.
Everything was finished and the kitchen clean . . .around midnight.
Daddy had an early appointment at a hospital, in a neighboring town, on Wednesday morning. That turned out just like my kitchen project, . . . dreadfully, under estimated. I regretted not carrying a book, as I usually do, but we all expected to be home by lunch. We got home , just before supper. Thankfully, all turned out good for daddy. We took great comfort in that.
With all the imagination, nurtured in me, I hadn’t enough to see my daddy in a wheelchair, or my mother putting his shoes on, for him. I knew, they would both grow older, as we all do . . as I do, but it always seemed a far away time . . .too far to think about on any given day, thus far. My parents seemed as ordinary as other folks, when I was growing up . . .now as I watch them, a half century later, holding hands , united in heart and spirit, throughout all seasons, I understand, finally, that they have never been ordinary people. They were always great people, doing the ordinary things, life called for.
It seems as if I under estimate, most everything.