A lot happened on Saturday at the rabbitpatch. First of all, there was not a single branch left on the territory, by the time the sun set. Even the little pasture, is better off than it was. Oh how good it felt, to see some order restored. While I was cleaning the yard, something was cooking at every hour. By the end of the day, Mama, Daddy and Kyle, would have supper every night of the week.
Mama tends to Daddys’ every need, ignoring her own. At least, she will not have to worry about supper and Kyle . . . well, he is working long hours and not about to have a slow cooked anything for his supper. It doesn’t hurt one bit, that he is always so very grateful, either. When Christian came in, he had several choices for supper and clean sheets on his bed.
In light of all that, I did not disturb a single cobweb on Saturday.
Mama told me on Saturday night, that the remnants of a storm from Florida, would arrive early Sunday morning. She was right, for it was raining before five am. It turns out, that it was a good thing that I hung laundry and did the yard work on Saturday. The rain and light wind made it the perfect morning to sleep, but I sprang out of bed like I was in my youth! This time, I would listen to every verse of the “Water Music” and watch the darkness give way to a silvery morning. . .and take my own sweet time, about it. At daybreak, I looked out the window, by my “morning table”. There were a few fallen branches hither and yonder. I had to laugh.
I made coffee and had a large slice of homemade bread smothered in butter, and listened to the rain. It was a time of serenity, for me.
As much as I write about the value of work . . .well the same can be said about rest too. There is more information available, now than ever before, to mankind. The news is full of heartbreak and discord. There is always some sort of fear, too. Most everyday, a new one . There are dire predictions, which give us something more to worry about. Under such circumstances, we must make a gallant effort to defend ourselves from the bombardment of “doom and gloom”. We must take rest. We must find solace.
For me, this means focusing on what does not change . . .what does not threaten. It is for this reason I am apt to linger under stars. it is next to impossible, for a star to provoke fear, after all. . .and since old trees do not quarrel, they make for good company. More than ever, we ought to all ramble on occasion, whether it is by a “laughing river” or an old field, or down a sidewalk . . . without any specific purpose. It never ceases to amaze me, that happening upon a patch of wild violets, can work such wonders, for the spirit. The world is bigger now than it ever was and solitude is more valuable now, than ever.
I have had such habits since I was just a child. They probably were fostered by not having something or someone to entertain me, every waking moment.. In those days, I was liable to climb a tree and sit for a while or sit on the pasture gate. I walked through the fields, while Mama cooked supper . I did not count my steps nor worry about my heart rate . . or wear headphones. There were no cell phones to stare at, either. . . so I did not miss the songs of the woodland birds nor the “golden apples of the sun”. I had no idea that such a practice would become a part of me. Nowadays, I need this “balancing act” as much as I still need supper, on any given day.
An old bridge, on the way to work is being replaced. It is my route to work. Reports say it will be spring, before the road is opened. There is a delightful, winding country road that loops around the area of construction. It adds a couple of extra miles to the commute, but the scenery is charming. I left a few minutes early today to compensate., for the beautiful, extra miles.
It wasn’t but just a few minutes later, that I was waiting to turn on the familiar road that led to the school. All of sudden, I heard the dreaded sound of screeching tires and then the deafening sound and jolt of impact. I was stunned. The shock of it all rendered me in a state and it took a few minutes before, I regained enough sense to move the car off the road. Authorities showed up and the process started. The young driver, at fault was scared and shaken. Her car was in shambles. She apologized and was so sorry. I reminded her that we were both spared and how grateful I was for that. I cried with her, for her youth convinced her that this was an insurmountable problem.
I had not even looked at the back of my car. I drive an older model, Toyota. Tres had given me the car a few years back.
Several of her family members came and I was glad for her, but suddenly, I wished that somebody was there that loved me . . .and instantly, I heard my name being called. A former neighbor had seen me and stopped to help me however she could. I had watched Sarah grow up and her parents, had practically carried me through the death of my husband. Someone that loved me did show up.
I finally mustered the courage to look at the car and I had to stare to comprehend what i saw . . .not a scratch hardly! I could drive away, after all. Even the patrolman was speechless.
Of course, once the word was out in my clan, I was given a stern talking to from my children, for not being checked out at the hospital and Tres wants the car checked out by an expert, just in case there is some hidden damage. . .and I know it is sound advice. There may very well be some crack in something important, looming in my future.
There is another twist to the story. For several weeks, and mostly when I was driving, I kept hearing the sound of an impact. It happened at least a half dozen times. At some point, it spooked me, but I never said a word. Even so, I was caught “off guard”, when it really occurred, though very oddly, I knew I had been prepared and so I did not panic.
Things like this have happened before, to me and to Christian, too. I suspect it happens to a lot of people. Now, scientific minds that thrive on proof, may dismiss such things. I hardly claim to be “holy”, but I do declare this. . . God does work in mysterious ways. I do not need to understand everything nor have some sensible explanation . . . and very rarely, do I have a clue as to what is happening next . . . . but I know Who does – and that is enough.
A light rain was falling on Wednesday, in the hours before light. It did not come as a surprise, for I had heard the forecast. More than a few leaves will find their destiny, today. The rain seemed to sing a lullaby and it was so very enticing. Rain has been scarce at the rabbitpatch for a long while. I have declared my affection for rain, countless times and so it took sheer willpower to go about the usual business.
I believe, it all comes from growing up when I did – and where I did. Things were much slower then. Work was harder with no end in sight, for the adults. Children worked too, but our chores were reasonable, looking back – and besides we didn’t know any other way. And even with chores, we had more time to play, than most children do now.
Rainy days meant everybody was close to the house. It meant the kitchen stove was at full tilt and we were most likely to have a cake, after supper. We cut paper dolls and my sister and I played dress up, with old pocketbooks and dresses, grandma kept in a chest . . and looked at the World Book Encyclopedias. . .unhindered by any schedule. Those were merry days. . .and I remain glad for them.
Of course, it goes without saying, that I spent the first few days of the week, mourning the departure of my children and grandchildren. There is just no remedy for that, but staying busy, doesn’t hurt. After work, each day, I would clear one or two piles of branches, from the territory. I am almost finished with the yard, but the little pasture, has not been touched. Before the grandchildren, I would not have been able to think of anything else, except the pasture being littered with branches. Now I wonder, why such things ever mattered so much. . .or even at all. Besides, I suspect the branches will wait, til the spirit moves me . . .as everything else does. Not once, has dust scattered in my absence.
The rain fell gently all day on Wednesday. In the evening, the wind blew. The October wind was brisk and there was a chill in it. I had to put the windows down in the farmhouse and don my favorite winter robe. The moon rose brightly shining and it seemed a shame not to admire it, so I went out. Leaves were flying in the wind, now and then crossing the glowing moon. There I stood, in the silver moonshine with that wild wind blowing and the dry leaves swirling . . .for a long while. October is a lovely time.
Thursday dawned bright and with enough snap, to warrant a good sweater. How lovely the drive to work is! The sun is just rising over the woodland and sets the fields aflame til a common field of soybeans looks like a golden sea and the ordinary swamp flowers are not so ordinary, in those first hours of light. The woods are just a faded, watery shade of green, in the days before their glory and the wisps of mists, that hang over them, makes them look even more hallowed. The whole affair, of an October morning is like a silent hymn. . .sung tenderly and felt deeply.
Jenny and I talked in the evening, as we usually do. I was torn between spending the weekend in Elizabeth City or staying at home to tend to the sprawling house and territory at the rabbitpatch. Every weekend for a month has held some sort of delightful obligation. . .and the next few weekends, do too, so reluctantly, I decided it best to stay home. I plan to cook and clean . . and maybe clear a bit of the pasture.
I am looking forward to it, though what a shame to spend any minute away from the grandchildren, who are determined to grow up before my very eyes! . . and I agree with Lyla, under such circumstances, “a week is a long time.”
Friends of the rabbitpatch, know the joy that I derive from work. I find it “therapeutic”, to use a current term. Physical work is also one of the best ways I know of, to find solutions to complicated matters and if need be, to heal. Now, I am thankful for a job- (and my banker, son- in – heart, Will declares, that I must always have one). It is a beautiful thing, to have a paying job, that allows for fulfillment. . .but it is not the jobs that are meant to pay the electricity bill , and keep tires on the car, that I am writing about. It is work that is directly related to home and hearth-and whatever patch of earth you live on. Rarely are any of the task glamorous, nor scarce. . .but there is a reward, none the less . . .even if you are the only one that knows about it.
My last entry was about the beauty of “ordinary” – simplistic greatness, to me. This time, the weekend holds some fanfare-at least for me. All of the children are coming home! We are gathering at the home of my parents and so Ryan will meet his great grandparents, at long last. I could hardly sleep last night, in light of the occasion.
I came in the back door, of the old farmhouse, on Friday with a spring in my step, though I was lugging groceries. We are gathering on Saturday, this time, for a mid day meal. This meant, I best get started cooking on Friday night. Within minutes, I had the biggest pot I own, on the stove, filled to the brim with chicken, celery stalks and all sorts of seasonings. Tomorrow, I would make the dumplings. Another pot was full of string beans. I would fry the cornbread at Mama and Daddys’ for cornbread has a short span, to sit and still be good. For dessert, I was making strawberry brownies, for though, it may seem out of season, this family loves anything with strawberries. Delores is making apple pie cookies, so very fitting for early autumn.
I will tell you, that I nearly danced, in the kitchen, while the pots simmered.
Mornings are so cool now, that I drug out my winter robe, on Saturday . . .and I put the fan away. I have not been able to use it, for most of the week. It seems, that summer is at long last, over. Now, even the trees declare it. The sycamores are starting to drop their huge leaves. Sycamore leaves go from green to brown, without a bit of fanfare. The dogwoods are starting to turn their familiar crimson-just barely, but enough that their bright red berries are seen easily. The grass has slowed down, thankfully, too.
The sun was shining as brightly, as it has ever dared to do, on Saturday. This only increased my good spirits.
Just before noon, Kyle and I were pulling in the driveway at Mama and Daddys’. Of course, Christian had to work, which put a damper on things. The car was loaded down with steaming pots and a large pan of the strawberry brownies. I was frying cornbread within minutes.
One by one, all arrived. We made quite a ceremony of Mama and Daddy, meeting little Ryan. It was a tender moment. . .and the beauty of it, was not lost for any of us.
A noisy, happy meal followed that hallowed moment. Delores, especially loves babies, and she opted to hold Ryan, She did so til there was not a dumpling left in the pot! Being the cook, I was horror stricken, but Delores ate cornbread with the broth and did not complain.
We talked about the Christmas gathering til I have no clue what was really decided upon. We drew names for gifts-that I am sure of. Lyla played with her uncles and her cousin Dana read to her. Brynn, being shy, stuck close to her Mama, but she did venture outside, with her uncle Tres. We looked at old photographs and it was decided that the “Warren bloodline” was showing up in the grandchildren.
When the kitchen was clean, and everyone had packed up . . and little Brynn was laying her head on her daddys’ shoulder, the party concluded. Oh, how dreadful, to watch them all leave. Some things never change.
Suddenly it is October! I know because the mailbox was stacked full of bills. The leaves weren’t saying so, nor the climate, for it is still hot at the rabbitpatch! The reliable window fans make all the difference. The night air is a welcome relief from the heat of the afternoon.
For most of my adult life, October was the month, the first fire of the season was made. Unless, things take a drastic turn, that is as highly unlikely, this year as it was last year. We are still battling mosquitoes, at the moment. A cooler weekend is in the forecast, at least. If it holds true, I hope to take a walk by my old friend, “the Laughing River”, for tomorrow, I leave for Elizabeth City, where my very darling granddaughters abide.
Friday has a different feel to it during the school year . It is a light hearted feeling. This is not so in months like July. The liberty of summer does not distinguish a Friday, from the other week days. The hours passed and before I knew it, I was on that familiar stretch of highway, driving past massive fields of cotton . “Snow has blossomed, I thought, for that is what a cotton field looks like this time of year. Then there were the fields of hay. Some fields were picked and hay bales lined the road for miles. October is a golden time in the country. The absence of rain and the abundance of sunshine, are favorable conditions for farmers, now.
I crossed the three rivers and how lovely to see the bright blue water shining and fairly sparkling . The whole world seemed happy in those moments.
Lyla bounded out the back door, calling out “Honeybee!!” when I drove up, and little Brynn smiled and clapped her hands.
I had barely brought my bags in, when it was time to go again. The “artwalk” a monthly event in Elizabeth City was that night. It is one of the things I like about the town. Artists are encouraged to thrive. Whether you are a painter or a potter, a cake decorator , arrange flowers, or a musician, you are honored, in the small town. One shop gave out pumpkins to be decorated and the Flour Girls bakery gave out cupcakes, for children to decorate. Lyla was as “happy as a lark” with such activities and was especially pleased with her pumpkin.
Saturday was cooler, as was predicted. It was so pleasant to feel an autumn breeze, at long last. I have lived my entire life in the south, and just when I think I will surely perish, an autumn breeze blows and my good nature is restored.
Lyla and I sat outside. I told stories about our imaginary community. There are a lot of dolls in the community with names like “Marigold, Gypsy and Helen”. They are bakers and librarians and the Nutcracker keeps the peace, when there are squabbles. A rabbit named Cookie, just went to court, for trespassing and a baby named “Snapdragon” was just born to a friendly witch named Clara. Lyla helps solve problems and gives advice to the Nutcracker, on how to keep peace in the land. A lot can happen in those afternoons when we are telling a story. It is the easiest way I know of to teach compassion, forgiveness and disappointment, for things are not always “fair” in story land, either. . .though all in all, it is a happy place.
Brynn and I spent time on the porch. I would name the things we saw, til I could say words like trees, water and pumpkins, and she would point to the subjects. Brynn loves the porch. . .the swing , especially. When she is “out of sorts” that swing acts like a tonic, on her.
Now science has proven the benefits of swinging-but I knew, already for I have sought the comfort of an old swing on many occasions, myself. Brynn knows too. It seems there is always some study going on -and it will make you shudder to think of the money spent -only to conclude a lot of things, which our elders knew by instinct. . .or by observation.
Lyla was drawing pictures, before breakfast on Sunday morning. Her Aunt Sydney is a bonafide artist and had given Lyla a very nice collection of pencils, markers and crayons, on our visit to meet baby Ryan. Lyla, has made good use of them, ever since. I wondered if Lyla, was like me, waking up full of notions to create, in the first hours of day. ( I love to write in the mornings.)
She drew pictures of us at night, and in all the seasons. I treasure her art, for to me, these are her journals. She is drawing her memories and things hoped for, after all. Lyla takes her drawing seriously , just as her uncle Christian always has.
Will and Jenny decorated the house for autumn and how lovely it looked. Lyla was thrilled as she loves to decorate as much as Miss Claudia ever did. We had an early supper on Sunday and I left with barely enough time to make it home before dark.
I left under a sky the color of apricots. The glow of the light turned everything a warm shade of tawny gold . The water and cotton fields, all seemed to be celebrating early autumn in the twilight hour. I felt content to have had such a weekend. It may sound a bit too ordinary, for many. But, to me it was grand. I cherish stories told under the stars and songs sung in a porch swing. There is an undeniable magic present under such circumstances. It is not idle time, to hold the beloved children, nor to imagine, with them, but instead a deep understanding of one another unfolds- and if there is anything left to wish for . . . .then I don’t know about it.