I have been in an official routine since Monday . . . and I have lived to tell about it! I could not even sleep on Sunday night, for I was convinced I would never make it to work on time and doubted I would survive a four hour meeting, right off the bat. I never do any one thing for four hours! . . . I was at work, bright and early.
I came home and started supper and laundry. I laid my clothes out for the next day and made a batch of “summer oats”. I must adhere to these practices for I can not put a single thought together in the morning. I rise several hours early, so I can perform my duties, with some degree of sanity, on account of that.
It is hot outside. For days, now a wilting heat has plagued the countryside. In the evenings, a haze covers the fields in a mysterious way and hushes everything. Now, the “morning glory” vines bloom. Like every other vine, the morning glory grows rapidly and anywhere it pleases. It is one of the few vines, that I love. Besides being tender and thornless, the vine bears bright true blue blossoms. A lot of folks do not share my affection for the morning glory. It is likely, that since they grow in ditches and clamber up every fence post, the vines are considered too common to appreciate, which is a shame, for they are a cheerful lot and what fun to ramble the territory and come upon something so sweet, that you did not have a hand in.
The loosestrife blooms too. Like the morning glory, it is not beloved by many. The lavender spike flowers do not bloom til August, which is what Mama holds against it. I laugh every year, when the loosestrife blooms, remembering Mama saying, as she was pulling them up, that they “take too long to bloom”. I have several places at the rabbitpatch where the loosestrife bears its’ pale lavender flowers . . . always in late August.
The ginger lilies are some of my favorites. The flowers themselves are unimpressive – and usually sparse, but their fragrance is extraordinary. I am very partial to fragrant blossoms. A single flower of the ginger lily will make you stop in your tracks, to drink in the sweet air. Ginger lilies are hard to find and they are pricey. They are also dependable perennials, that bloom in August. I am sure we did not buy bacon, the week I bought the ginger lilies, but I have never regretted it.
I realise, that I hold a grudge against clocks and papers announcing the time and date of what I have to do. Their proclamations of “Be here” and “pay this” are but cold demands. . .but nature declares the time, softly and tenderly, like a loving mother. If I were in charge of such things, I would say things like “The sweetest month of May is here, and on the fifteenth, when the honeysuckle blooms, your bill is due.” Or, “school starts in August, when the loosestrife approaches its’ peak.” Or “The sun is slipping and shadows are falling, it is time to go home, now” At least, I can practice this way, for myself . . for I leave for work, “when the sun is almost over the pines”.
It is odd to think I have been on a “school schedule” for most of my life. I remember graduating from high school and feeling so free of that schedule. When school started the next year, I was elated that I would not be facing that familiar routine. I got a good job working for an orthodontist, and did not go to work til nine. I had Wednesday mornings and Friday afternoons off. Oh! I was so very grown. I married a few years later and stayed home with the children as they came along. Those were golden years. I have been teaching music for twenty years now at the school. I worked at another school and also taught violin, prior to this particular school) I am back on that schedule again. . .and now I am thankful for it, for I am that grown. Now, I wonder how any one works through the summer.
The sweet couple that came to see the rabbitpatch, did not decide to buy it. In this circumstance, I am taking some time to breathe. The “remnants of a former farm”, that I call the rabbitpatch is still for sale, but I have not advertised it. I have some decisions to make -and they are not as simple as whether to have biscuits or corn bread for supper. These are decisions that will alter my course . . .and frankly, I need to pray. At least, the peace of it all remains steadfast and as constant as the North Star.
Besides, school starting and decisions to make about the rabbitpatch, something far grander occupies my thoughts. Within the month, my first grandson will be born. He is actually expected right around Brynns’ first birthday. Brant is as nervous and excited as any one I have ever seen. He simply can not be still, for he always thinks of something that is necessary and should be done immediately . . .or else, the baby will surely suffer, in some way. Sydney, on the other hand, is as calm and collected as she can be. Instead of fretting, she quietly and efficiently completes her tasks. She does not worry about what size winter boots, her little son will need when he is a year old , as Brant does. Thank Goodness, Sydney has a gentle nature to “balance the act”!
I suppose, I can not chide Brant too much, for Sydney called today and I uttered “Yes? What! I mean hello, are you ok?” I was senseless, and Sydney laughed, as I tried to recover, feebly. Sydney says her own mother did the same thing recently. So that is where we are. . . We are all “in a state” as my elders used to say. How can it be, otherwise? We are all well “over the moon”, after all. . . and that is one Holy place.
I came home yesterday from an extended time in Elizabeth City. I had been away almost two weeks straight- really I spent the most of my summer with my daughter and her family. Now, I am back at the rabbitpatch, for suddenly . . .it is August ! . . .and I start school on Monday.
Brant came by just after I arrived home. He, Christian and I had supper together, which was a huge consolation, for me. Brant has been working in the area, but tomorrow, he leaves for good for Wake Forest. His little son is expected in September, after all. Sydney has been patient, throughout. . .and deserves a medal. How wonderful and anxious a time, it is, awaiting the birth of your first child. All mothers remember, though decades slip by. It may not seem so, but, without doubt, the “season with child” is that remarkable. I see the mother of my first grandson, fairly alight, with hopes and dreams, and it pleases me to no end, and I am filled with joy.
Last weekend, we had a gathering at the lake to celebrate the impending birth, of the first grandson. My sister, Connie hosted the affair and her husband, Mike cooked on the grill . After a satisfying meal, a lot of us headed to the lake for a swim. The water is crystal clear with a clean, white, sandy bottom. It is also a shallow lake, so we were able to walk a long ways out -even Lyla! Mama and Daddy sat in the shade and a cool breeze blew around them. After the swim, we all had ice cream. Little Brynn was passed around like a doll and Lyla was pleased to pass out popcorn and eat ice cream with little supervision.
The days afterwards dwindled by at an alarming pace. On one day, the girls and I took a very long stroll around the village. At some point, Lyla asked me, “Are we even still in Elizabeth City?” Not long after we got back, a horrific storm popped up. It was full of “straight line winds” that brought down branches and scattered everything not nailed down. Part of the town lost power. Jenny and I both love storms, but this one was cause for concern. It did pass quickly, leaving us somewhat bewildered, by its’ sudden fury.
Both of the girls love to swing. Lyla is quite accomplished now in this art. Some hours were spent under old the cypress singing, telling stories and swinging. Lyla and I made lists of birds and flowers she knew by name and sight. We recited her poems. What a goodly collection, we gathered, while Brynn cheered us on, clapping her little hands and squealing in delight.
One day, Lyla had a fever. She said her head hurt and later her stomach. She was so pitiful and slept a lot. Once she said to her mama “I don’t understand what happened,” through tears. Lyla has never been sick, so it was a shocking ordeal for her . A day or so later Brynn had a fever and was cranky. . . .and a few days later, Brynn started walking!
We had some visits with Aunt J -and Miss Thelma. One afternoon, Miss Thelma and I cooked together. Those were golden hours. Lyla and I watched Venus rise and the moon grow to its’ fullness. We listened to Andre Bocelli and one day, I made a new friend, who lives down the street, while the girls and I were on a walk. Will and Lyla picked a few figs from the little tree, that Lyla sings to. We went to the book store and ice cream parlors , Brynn learned to say “Lyla – and Lyla danced around the willow tree most days. . til suddenly it was August . . and the roses faded . . . and the dragonflies came.
These are some of the contents of my summer. I will not deny that I will sorely miss the liberty that affords me such pleasures. It does not bother me in the least, that I did not see distant shores, for I have found that I am most content in the company of loved ones. I needn’t stray far for “Divine” , for I am as close and surrounded as I can be, in the shade of an old tree. Venus shines most brilliantly, when I am holding Lylas’ hand and a sparse meal in the company of my daughter, is worth a Kings” ransom. There is wonder and enduring beauty -genuine and as rare as fine pearls, in the union of my parents. . . and joy, unbridled and without rival, as we await the birth of a child. I have listened to the dreams of my sons and sung songs to Brynn.
Surely, the summer, even in its’ haste, did not leave me empty handed, but instead bestowed gifts generously and without ceasing. Now, in the twilight of the season, I remember these things, fondly . . . and with gratitude.
I arrived at the rabbitpatch, last night. I had been away a full week and so Christian and the boxer made quite a production over my return. The cat, Christopher Robin, did not. He “put on airs” and acted indifferent. He does this on occasion, if I have been gone too long.
How good it was to see that my neighbor, and friend Susan had mowed the yard! Most especially, since someone is coming to look at the house tomorrow. I know that a manicured yard does not make or break a deal, just like clean, well groomed dogs, but it can not hurt, I think.
I was pleased to find the house in good order. Christian is always dependable in that aspect. Still, I concocted a full agenda for Saturday.
The “Morning Service” on Saturday was cool and sweet. I miss the chatter of birds in spring, but somewhere, a dove was cooing and that was enough. The peach tree bows with small peaches. I am certain the weeks without rain are accountable for the little fruits, but oh how delightful to eat a fresh peach in early light. Without even the slightest breeze, the pines were as quiet as the oaks, on this morning. I prayed as I walked around the territory. I usually do, but the only thing that I could utter, was “thank you”.
I came back in and started washing the linens, for Christian does not think about washing curtains . . .ever. Nor does he worry his sweet head with cleaning the refrigerator. I wanted the floors scrubbed, which is no small task in the rambling house. He does keep things in the right place, which is a huge contribution. When Christian, came in from work, he gave the dogs a bath and I had to laugh. I suppose, the dogs will be as glad as I am, when the place does sell.
I was busy all day long and well into the night. This was because, I took a good many breaks-almost a shameful amount. Years ago, I cleaned the house from top to bottom, in a day – and cooked supper! The only sense I can make of it, is the house really did get bigger . . . and, well, I did get older.
Sunday dawned fair. A gentle sunlight dappled the countryside, almost lovingly. I did not feel the old anxiety, in the wake of the visitors. Maybe, it is because the first two deals shattered, just before closing or maybe it is because I am finally able to “practice what I preach” – which is “not to lean on your own understanding”. A peace has welled up inside of me, that I can not account for . . . I do hope it is for the latter reason.
Everything went well with the couple that came to see the house. Neither of them liked dogs, so once again, clean dogs are just not a selling point. They did love the house and property, so time will tell as it always does.
My dear cousin, Faith popped in later on. What a nice surprise! Faith and I grew up, like sisters. Faith was a “firecracker” as a child. She was liable to” talk back” to the adults and would fight with boys twice her size, if provoked. We all had ponies, when I was growing up and we rode them to see each other, often. Faith had a sweet pony named “Sam” who seemed trained to dash off at full speed, at the drop of a hat, if Faith got in a bind. I can remember clearly, watching them gallop away down the country road, when something didn’t go right, in a game. I hated to see her leave, for Faith was the liveliest of the cousins. She would not play “school” or “housekeeping” or let the older girls brush her hair. That kind of play was too tame for my cousin. . .but the truth was, that I learned early on, that Faith had a tender heart and would protect those she loved, with everything in her. She lived to grow up, despite her reckless childhood. Faith tended her ailing mother for years and is a doting mother and grandmother, today. . .and remains a loyal cousin. No matter how diverse family members are, one thing they all share is the remembrance of the elders and the past way of life. That is a “tie that binds”.
A thunderstorm popped up in the evening. It was a “full blown” storm with thunder and lightning that cracked the sky. The rain was blinding, so that you could not see your neighbors house. With the house clean, I caught up on my reading . The boxer curled up for a nap and Christopher Robin, who is back on good terms, lay in a window sill to watch the event of a storm.
To me, the storm was a perfect conclusion to a day, to be glad about.
It finally rained -and that changed everything. After weeks of blistering heat that wilted flowers and spirits, a cool wind blew and then the rain fell. That was on Tuesday . . . now almost a week ago.
On Wednesday, the realtor came. I will tell you that every room fairly sparkled and not a single cobweb was in sight. Even the dogs were bathed! The meeting was all business and I could tell, the realtor was thinking hard about how I should proceed. The big question is , should I spend money on the house and hope to get it back? or should I sell as it is, and hope I sell it soon. The realtor left , wanting to consider the facts. Apparently clean dogs, do not make a difference at all.
In a few hours, I was on that very familiar stretch of highway, to Elizabeth City.
Since my arrival, there has been a whirlwind of an agenda. I declare I am at the “house that never sleeps”. One day, we cooked a supper for Wills’ Uncle Larry and his aunt Mary Ruth. Of course, we also cooked for ourselves and Miss Thelma. Uncle Larry has a huge farm, and I must say, that when we went to deliver the food, I felt right at home. In the yard were apple trees and grapevines, There was a pasture of cows, with two grandsons, there working. There was a litter of very young kittens in the yard. . . and there was a tremendous sky overhead. I understand this kind of beautiful. I surveyed the landscape and all sorts of memories flooded in. I half expected “Pop” to appear from around one of the barns.
We had a nice visit. Jenny and I listened to the story of how they met, and how they were not allowed to date for a while. When at last that ban was lifted, they were married within about six months . That happened fifty years ago and so they do live “Happily, ever after”
With the weather, remaining pleasant, I took the girls on a stroll one day. Jenny has a double stroller, so both girls ride. The day we went out, I had high expectations, to walk the whole course along the river. It was a lovely day, after all and besides I had done so countless times, with Lyla. We stopped to watch some porpoises in the laughing river. That was a sweet surprise. We stopped under a pine and smelled “Christmas” and later, we watched about a half dozen turtles sunning on an old log, by the little bridge. We had traipsed all the way to the furthest edge of the village, which had seemed manageable, but the thought of walking all the way back . . .well, that seemed daunting. A double stroller, is not for the faint of heart. Still, we struck off in high spirits. Lyla identified pine trees all along the way. Brynn watched some friendly squirrels and the river rolled by, all the while, like a lullaby sung with a hushed voice. Before I knew it, we were approaching the shady lane, where the lilies grow, that runs along the side of Jennys’ house.
On Saturday, we went to the “Farmers’ Market”. I went straight away to the lady that makes soaps. This is where I bought the “dish washing” bar soap. I continue to promote this, as the soap has pleased me in every way – and I am far from a light weight in the kitchen. Whether I have fried pork chops, made a pan of biscuits or a pitcher of peach tea . . .the soap works. I was pleased, my new friend had shampoo bars , too. I have been using shampoo bars for a year, and so I decided to try hers’. It is a pleasure to find, that this bar is my favorite. . . and once again, it doesn’t come in plastic. I know, such things are but a minute dent in the enormous problem of plastic, in this world, but it is what I can do – and that comforts me.
One day, we had an almost fancy luncheon. Aunt J and two of her best friends came. It was a lovely affair altogether . The table was set with Miss Claudias’ beloved dishes, which touched Aunt J. Lyla played her violin and recited poetry, she minded her manners, but said she was “too young, to eat such food”. We had a wonderful visit and it did me good to see Aunt J smiling with her best friends. She was “in good company” – and it made a difference.
Modern living does afford so many conveniences. Just in my lifetime, few things remain as they were. Technology changed life and continues to do so. Many things are better, many things are easier, yet there are some remnants of the yester years untouched and unrivaled by modern progress. My elders used to say “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. I don’t suppose many folks say that anymore-or can make “heads nor tails” of its’ meaning, for we do not even bathe our babies as they did, with a large washtub in the kitchen sink. After the bath, the tub was emptied out of the back door, hence the saying. We ought to take great care , not to lose the most precious things in our haste.
Now let me admit, that I have little hurry in me. I never have. I did not grow up in a mad rush, for I played well past the age children do now. My parents did not push adult issues on any of us – and I remain grateful for that, now decades later.
I thought of this when I listened to the love story of Aunt Mary Ruth and Uncle Larry -and again when I saw the “ties that bind” with Aunt J and her friends. . . and as I rocked Brynn to sleep and felt her against me . . . when I watch Lyla dancing around the willow . . .and when I peel apples. Some joy remains -ageless – and is not improved upon.
P.S. Here is the link to the lady that makes lovely soaps – and does not use plastic! “loveandlightning.patternbyetsy.com