Sometimes, you have to “grin and bear it”. That has been the case, for a solid week, at the rabbitpatch.
I was leaving on Monday, for Raleigh. I was going so I could help Brant and Sydney, care for our very precious “Ryan”. Sydney works from home and besides , with their recent move, they are still “setting up housekeeping’. I was packed and ready, when the refrigerator stopped working. What a predicament! It is no small thing, when that appliance stops. Christian and I were scrambling . . but we ended up losing the milk, anyway. We were low on cold groceries, but I was due to pick up an order the next morning.
A simple phone call landed me a used refrigerator. . . to be delivered the next day. I called Sydney and post poned the trip a day. Later on, I told Christian to move my car, as the delivery , would be so much easier . The problem was now . . . that the car wouldn’t start. What is next, I thought, for “things really do happen in threes” . It didn’t take long, to find out.
This all happened on July fourteenth, I remember it well for I needed to mail my state tax payment. I had to refile my taxes this year, for apparently, my returns got lost when they were filed in March. I decided, on a whim to call the IRS and make sure, that they had received my taxes, this time. . . of course, they had not. A very kind agent assisted me, and I am sure she heard the quiver in my voice, for the last folks I want to have trouble with is the IRS. I wanted to tell her that the refrigerator had quit on me -and the car -but decided against it. She would just have to think me “fragile” or worse . . .”unstable”. Really I was both, at that moment.
Thirty long minutes later, the agent cheerfully announced that she did indeed, find those awful papers. I ran to the mailbox repeating, “at least that is over.” It was not even noon!
Christian reported that it was the battery on the car. He jump started it and so I thought that I would need to think about that later. The task at hand, was too move the broken refrigerator out -and the kitchen table. I scrubbed everywhere and everything in that kitchen, as well. Before the floor was dry, the truck pulled up with the refrigerator.
The thing was older than I had expected and like me, “not much to look at”, but it was cold within moments and that mattered most, at the moment. With the kitchen clean and orderly, and put back together, I noticed the long, slanted, golden ribbons of sunshine spilling through the windows . . .it was suppertime.
That night, I also found out that there was a possibility, that my job as a music teacher, was a bit in jeopardy. By this time, I had exceeded, the “things happen in threes ” theory . The refrigerator was purring softly, though and I could come by a battery for the car, I reminded myself, but what a complicated day it had been!
When I was a child, and some disappointment came along, I would run to the nearest elder and give them the details of my latest plight. There was a wide range of calamities from a lost doll shoe to the wayward behavior of a naughty cousin. Many times I would be told to “grin and bear it” -and rather flippantly, I thought. The elders would go about their business, leaving me to my own devices to solve the matter. I was not coddled in that way. Comfort would come later, usually after supper, when we all tended to reflect on our day. Many times, I had forgotten by then, what ever was the matter . Other times, the direness of the situation had diminished altogether. How beautiful, I think now, for in this way, I developed the confidence and fortitude, that would become mighty handy skills to have in life. The elders were always right. How good that I had such a childhood, I always think. . .every single time I remember.
That night, I wondered about my future. The battery and the refrigerator purchases would surely strain my shoestring budget and what if I faced unemployment-and at my age, especially? Oddly, even this did not make me feel desperate nor hopeless. There is a “peace that passes understanding.”
I have finally realised, that the odds do not hinder God. Things may looks complicated and chaotic to me, but I do not need understanding so to make sense of things, nor “the wisdom of Solomon” to find solutions . .what I need is Faith. Looking back, this has always rang true . . .and the many accounts are tenderly, etched in my heart. My role is and has always been, is to do my best and trust.
Sadly, I have failed at this on occasion. I walked on with faltering stride and cumbersome burdens, but declaring that “God was with me”. ( It makes me to shudder to reflect on that. ) The good news, is that even with such feeble attempts I was rewarded . God did not alter His purpose for me due to my shortcomings. He was close as could be, round the shady crevices and in the “tight spots”.
In light of my remembrances of decades past, I knew that in one way or another, things would work out. I decided to make a batch of brownies and then packed a bag for a trip to Raleigh, for we had planned a small gathering, months ago. We would celebrate the new home on “Hamlet Green” and I would have all three grandchildren together. That meant everything.
July is swiftly slipping by as steadily as a silver river. The sultry days turn in to sultry nights and it is now that “white moths are on the wing”. The blackeyed Susans brighten a corner of the yard like another sun -and the watery lavender buds of the greedy loosestrife lie in wait, for August. Gardens are in their prime and red tomatoes are served at most every meal, in some form. Farmers are on alert for those evening storms that pop up in months like July. Hail is a dreaded component that can ruin prospects in a few moments.
Farmers are stalwart folks and can not afford to be lazy, any day. They must be a “jack-of all- trades”, too, for there are all sorts of chores that range from mechanics to tilling soil. A farmer must pay close attention to the signs of nature, and realises in youth , that he is dependent on Nature therefore, a very intimate bond is forged. When I used to frequent groceries, I never failed to think of those that tended the land as well as the agricultural workers who harvest the crops. Anybody that eats anything, would do well, to do the same.
My packing was finished and the brownies were cooling, when the internet went out. I called and was put on a list with folks having the same problem. It was expected to take a week, to restore service. I lost the original post . . . and the next one. It was awful. When I lose the car keys, well, I know they will turn up, but losing my writing, felt like losing a part of me.
Now this was a week ago , and I am still unsettled with that same notion. I probably did not have a single brilliant line written, for I never do, but how I mourn for those thoughts . . .at any rate, I am in Raleigh now, with my grandchildren and having a lovely time.
July arrived and with it came fireworks . . .and sultry days. Right when I am sure, I can not bear the heat of a day, clouds come up and sprinkle a cool shower. This convinces me to muster the grace, a southerner needs in months like July. . .the window fan, does too.
I have been home a few days now. . .long enough to know where the fawn lays. Though, I am liable to surprise him in the early morning-and again at noon, he does not scurry in haste. I have not seen him sauntering around the yard, recently but it has been a pleasure to catch glimpses of him in the young woods.
I am breaking all the rules instilled in me, as a child, when it comes to taking to the woods in July. I spent a good deal of my youth rambling in woods . . .but not in the late spring or summers. There were poisons of all sorts, and ticks, redbugs and snakes. There were hornets and ground bees -and we children were all warned, sternly about such calamities. It took a hard frost for the woodland ban to be lifted.
I can not help but feel a bit guilty for not heeding my elders . . .even now, and find myself thinking of them all as I work.
The path I am working on is wide and grassy. Sunlight falls lovingly, in bright patches along the way. Birds are constantly tattling on my whereabouts, as I try to tame the wild vines. I have seen several dens of small creatures as I work, in the first light. I know a good many of them are rabbits, and surely there is an opossom or two. A few years ago I saw a raccoon. . .and the wild mulberry is everywhere. How lovely it will be in September.
I always feel like I am in another world, when I am in a patch of woods. Things that matter so very much, outside of the woods, aren’t even relevant . . .in the woods. Trees do not gossip, nor hold grudges. . .and they have always kept my secrets. When I was young, it didn’t matter that I had freckles, and it does not matter today, that my hair is silvering. Trees are not “fair weather friends”.
Yesterday, I did not work. I just did not want to be hot, tired and dirty by eight am, and the rainy forecast gave me permission, to indulge . I stayed busy, for I have been researching the genealogy of my very Irish family. I have gone as far back as the first generation born in America. What lovely names I am finding, such as “Elizabeth Snow, Aqua Belle and Kissie- and then there is “Sarah Asabella Ann”! The men have names like “Julian, Whit and Force”! I just wished the names were spelled the same in official records consistently -and that folks didn’t start using their middle names at random times. It makes the task difficult, but I have fallen in love with these folks. They do not feel like strangers, though I can not explain it. I imagine Johnston and Kissie coming here, young and hopeful. They have a son, named Benjamin, who married Nancey C . . .my great x 3 grandparents. Apparently, the Irish are as tribal as you have heard, for they all married Irish. Only three cousins died young, I suspect from illness, but it is early in the study of my dads’ ancestry, and who knows what awaits. At least, for now, there is no record of anyone so much as stealing an egg!
I have seen butterflies this week. I have only seen but a few fluttering around the phlox, but, I like to see such business. I also had the first ripe peach of the season, one day. Both peaches and apples are a light yield this year. There isn’t a single pear, but one of the fig trees is laden. . .as are the grapevines. I am still faithfully practicing social distancing and so I have time to notice such things.
With schools having closed in March, and that running in to the summer, well . . I had forgotten this kind of life. The kind of life that allows sheets to line dry, and flower beds to be maintained and leisure suppers . . and a cooked breakfast. . .and talking to Mama on a Tuesday morning.
I have never understood the theory that there is “nothing to running a home” . Many are under the impression that it is dull job and requires minimal ability. I suspect, the folks saying such a thing, have never attempted it. There is a lot to do and truthfully, a lot less to it now, for me, than when the children were little, but somehow, I still manage to stay busy. . .of course I do live in a very old house . . .on an almost uncivilized rabbitpatch.
There is an art to housekeeping, even now, when we have modern conveniences. and it is an especially noble work, for the whole family benefits from it. I can not imagine the substance of the folks, before us, like my “Grandma Kissie”. I bet she would have been thrilled to have a can of peas! -and carrots, that she did not dig!
As I write in my beloved rabbitpatch diary, I realise that an account of my own days, tells a story as true as it can be . . but beyond the rabbitpatch, lies another tale.
I used to say that “Farm Life” saw the world changing and just did not participate. That impression has remained. Neighbors here, still bring sweet corn and pies to one another. If a tree goes down in your yard, it is tended to in a group effort. Keys were left in cars, in case someone needed to use it. It gives me great pleasure to write such things . . .and living on a rabbitpatch, nestled in this place, is certainly a beautiful and gratifying experience. I want my heirs to know this and so I keep a record. I have also, always hoped that this diary might inspire readers in some way. I do not expect it to change the world, but maybe, it could change a moment, for someone.
So, beyond the rabbitpatch, things are happening, that I can not fathom. . .and opinions about it are a dime a dozen. It is a sad state of affairs, no matter what . No one can say anything “right” these days and judgement comes swiftly and harshly. Fear and desperation are very conducive to poor behavior, in general. Even the best of us , will fall under these conditions. To say that I am concerned, is a feeble statement for I am heartbroken, really. I am stunned to find us in such a predicament, as well. I am always the last to know anything, but I declare,it seems now, that the world is rushing at an alarming pace to more chaos. I so wish, we would slow down enough to collect our thoughts and seek reconciliation to all the various dividing factors.
One thing I am sure of is that pandemics and politics do not pair well. – And I also am sure, like Tennyson, that . . .”More things are wrought by prayer, than this world dreams of.”
You must get up mighty early, these days to see the sunrise. . .but it is well worth the effort. It is a holy time for me, when the light comes to the world, whether it it is blinding and joyful or shy and gentle. Either way, the light proclaims, a new chance for us.
The contents of a day, can vary greatly. . .and not all are filled with pleasantries, but many are. Most often, there is something to be glad about and most often, we needn’t “break a sweat” finding it. More than ever, we must strive for hopeful things.
We must seek balance.
Currently, with the whole planet, unsteady, I have thought a lot about this subject. I have noticed, in the last decade, long before this pandemic-(that I never imagined) that society in general seemed to be getting further and further away from authenticity. In some way, we were already donning masks. We were also already building fortresses, which hid our truths. No one wanted to admit they were older or made just an average salary. We validated our faults, instead of owning them and striving to improve ourselves. What a fruitless and tiring and complicated way of living. Because we know, we can not trust our own motives, we are also, now a suspicious lot, as well.
Now the present circumstances are trying, for all of us. The headlines are always grim. . . and what is yet to come, many fear. I so wished I had a remedy for all-but I “know” less now than ever and I realise that fully since the “shock” never gets chance to wear off. In such conditions, I must cling to what few things I have found steadfast -and “doctor” my self.
In light of this,I make it my business to fill my heart with all the goodness I can. As a prime example, the neighbors have the loveliest Mimosa tree blooming. It is as happy a shade of pink as I have ever seen. I have several myself, on the rabbitpatch, but none that delightful color – and they all perfume, the evening air, til I scarce want to go in. I always linger til the first stars appear. The splendor of star shine has not diminished nor has the golden light of the moon that cracks through the darkness of night.
Every day I wander around the territory hunting thorned vines and poison ivy. I am scratched up and have blisters on my hands, for I never come up short, on my hunt. I have stepped in yet another hill of fire ants . . .but I also came across a butterfly bush, in one of the far corners , blooming its’ heart out. Now, because of that solitary thing of beauty, that “far corner” has become a destination, in my traipsing.
The oldest barn has a bay that leads to several small stables. The boxer and I were walking through early one morning, when we both heard a “tinkling sound”. It reminded me of a small music box. The boxer looked up-and was on high alert . . so I did too. There, peeking over the top of a nest made of mud, was the sweetest little face! How could I have forgotten the return of the darling swallows? I appreciate the common swallows that brighten my walk. Swallows do not have the best reputation, for they are liable to swoop at anyone, who dares to get near their nests . . .but they mate for life, and return dependably, to the same place each year to raise their brood. The swallows and I are on good terms and so they cheerfully allow me to adore their family.
The “country went to town again”, for on Sunday, I left for Raleigh. The rabbitpatch was tidy, and I fixed several dishes for Christian and a cake, so he wouldn’t starve. (I can not stop myself from this practice.)
Sydney has mostly worked from home, since Ryan was born-and then the pandemic. There was a meeting she needed to attend in person, on Monday, hence my visit. Of course, I was happy to go and not even the drive hindered my enthusiasm.
I stayed til Thursday. Ryan was as bonnie as ever. He is a calm, happy child and so loving. I took him on several strolls. Once we got caught in a sudden rain. The cool drops fell on us and we neither minded. One day, we climbed several hills, on our stroll. The sunshine was hot, when we traveled the unshaded patches of sidewalks. The humidity was low, that day and so the sky was especially blue. I never see a soul in the yards, and I wondered for a short while, if we were the only ones left in the world. But there, in the far distance, I caught a glimpse of a dog walker, and so that which I imagined, was not the case.
Sydneys’ mom, came for a visit and how good it was for us to dote on little Ryan, together. She stayed with me, while Sydney was at the meeting. Between the two of us, Ryan was content and dry when his mom arrived home.
Each evening, we all enjoyed a meal together. I tried to fix dishes, that I knew were their favorites. Sydney got her macaroni & cheese, Brant got his brunswick stew and we all enjoyed brownies – both, chocolate and strawberry batches.
One day, it was Thursday, and so I collected my things and left at mid afternoon. It was a beautiful day -clear and bright. I tucked a picture of Ryan sleeping contentedly in his mothers’ arm, deep in my heart , to savor on the trip home.
I did something brave . . .for this “scared rabbit” anyway . . .I took a different route home!- and lived to tell about it! That awful twisting turning detour was still in place, and I had heard Sydney talk about driving through a town called Zebulon. and there at the intersection, just before the road construction, was a sign marking the road to Zebulon. The GPS simply said “Drive ten miles” and did not seem alarmed in the least. Ten miles later, I was on the highway to the “rabbitpatch”.
Christian had made a pot of coffee, to welcome me home and the boxer pranced about, as we carried things in. I looked around the tidy yard and noticed the lilies were blooming – and the roses had clearly caught a “second wind”.
After supper, the boxer and I took a walk around the territory. I spied a little, spotted fawn . He was walking around the yard as if he too was taking account of such an evening. I hushed the boxer, and he became as still as a statue. The fawn showed no sign of distress and did not hurry on his way back to the young woods. I was sure his mother watched in terror, from the shadows.
The corn had grown a least a foot, I noticed and the cotton field was green with plants in neat rows. How lovely, it all looked in the amber rays of the sunset. . . ‘ . . .even the very old and shabby barn .