Autumn Is a Time to Remember


I woke this morning, to a light rain falling.  Since I did not have to go in to work, I laid very still and listened to the gentle splash of the raindrops on the windows and roof.   How tenderly the rain fell. It would have lulled me right back to sleep, but a rainy morning entices me to wake and not a miss moment.  It is my favorite time to write, after all.  
It never rains, that I do not remember,  the voices  of my elders, saying “I love you like rain.”  Tears well up as I write this now, fifty years later, remembering my maternal grandmother, for she said it the most.   Of course we were a farming family, and so rain meant a lot to us.  I say this to my children and grandchildren, for it is one more way to “tell the story”. 
Thankfully, this week did not pass with the fanfare of the week, before it.  There were not quite so many unusual details .  There is always a project to be done on the rabbitpatch, but the fervor of  a prospective buyer coming always evokes a sense of rush- and those that know me best,  can testify, that I elude rush with practiced skill.  The young man called me a few days after his visit, to say how much he loved the rabbitpatch, but could not buy it.  Now, things work out as they ought to and so, I do not need consolation.  What I needed, I received and that is always  of great profit.   
If gains are only measured  financially, then it is no wonder to me that folks feel “robbed” or that they “lost out” on something, often.  We conjure up outcomes, according to our desires never considering our solutions might not be brilliant or even right.  I have learned this the hard way, as I have most lessons, but the liberty that results, is well worth the “hard knocks”. 
“Officially” it is now Autumn, that beloved time of mine.  Oh, how I love the brightest days of the year -and the silvery, grey ones too.  The air is filled with chill and fog and dancing leaves and tendrils of smoke  rising from small burn piles, tended by folks wearing light jackets.  . .just like my “Pop” used  to. 
I am a sentimental  sort, by nature, and for some reason autumn time never fails to awaken memories dimmed in other seasons.  I  have said before, that September is a time to remember -at least for me.  The farm was such a happy time in early autumn.  The long, hot , toiling summer days were behind us and the harvest days were  like a  long celebration.   The elders were cheerful and laughed a lot.  Grandmama made an apple pie every day, for there were several apple trees along the edge of the garden.  It was  the next best thing to Christmas.   
After those years, my memories are of football games and realising that ” boys were cute”.  I collected rain water to wash my hair in and polished my oxfords, promptly at the first sign of a scuff. I preferred a different radio station and sang the songs aloud as I walked the woods and fields – and dreamed like a “big shot”, for that is the fashion of dreams in youth.  Thankfully, those shallow dreams vanished in to  the thin  woodland air, along with my youth, for a more beautiful life, than I could have ever imagined, unfolded.  Years later, I was a mother and every autumn, after frost, we were in the woods.  We walked and read books and picnicked regularly.  
It seems, that I take a long stroll down “memory lane”, every autumn and  this year is no exception.    . . .   but this year, more than any one , . . . I am remembering Daddy. 
The shock of losing Daddy, has almost worn off.  Now, the sorrow has settled in,  at times, thicker than the blinding fog at dawn.  I was looking at Christmas ornaments recently,  and could not imagine, a Christmas without Daddy.  I painted a table, one day, that Daddy had given me-my dear “Morning Table”.  I could not wait to be done with it and the  glory of the crisp white paint, was lost on me.  I argued again, with a door knob, that Daddy had tried to fix and couldn’t-which had shocked me, then.  Now, I know that was one of first warnings, I was given, but I missed it altogether.   Everything seems to prod me to remember Daddy . . even supper, some times.   
I am not crippled by the sadness  and do not even see it as  something peculiar.  Grief can masquerade in many ways and show up at odd times.  It is a natural consequence when we lose  someone we loved-and someone that loved us.  It is an undeniably powerful  force and we just never get to be an expert at grief.    I do not give an account of this, to initiate sympathy,  for we  have  all grieved over some sort of loss.    Like the rain, “it falls on the just and the unjust”   –  instead, maybe there is some sort of consolation, in knowing that it really is ok, to mourn while you paint a table or if  “out of the blue”  tears fall on Christmas ornaments. 
Grief is a complicated affair.    . .and not all days are created equally.  Some days are bright and hopeful and others are not. . . .but really all offer some beauty, if we but examine the contents of them.  I am convinced that I will not have to look far or hard or long to confirm this. 
The maples will soon be scarlet and the sweetgum will don every autumn color,  all at once, earning bragging rights, in the countryside.  Now, the fields lie golden  and beckon us to gaze upon them. They shine fairly now, in the light of early autumn. The bright plumes of the ragweed cover the ditch banks and floss flowers and wild mulberry  bloom-and that sweet morning glory . . . .Daddy never  did like morning glory, for they tangled up  on the plows of his tractor.   . . but I thought, they made the tractor beautiful.













Cakes and Other Nice Things


Seldom is a week as full as this past one was, for me.

The week started off with Brynns’ second birthday party. Mama and I had spent a night there. Brant and Sydney were there with little Ryan-and so were Tres and Sarah.

Lyla decided she wanted to sleep with her Nana and I on the pull out couch. Jenny thought it was an awful idea, but Mama and I agreed with Lyla. It will be a sweet memory. I thought. That night, Lyla wanted to sleep with her soft little bear, who just happened to have a balloon tied to him. Jenny said no firmly, to that. Mama was asleep and I almost was, when Lyla climbed out of the bed and retrieved her bear, from his lonely corner. I didn’t let on, that I saw it. It is a startling thing to wake with a helium balloon looming over you-but Mama laughed later.

On Sunday, more folks came that loved Brynn-and so she had quite a day. This was Mamas’ first venture out , since Daddy died and we were all glad to have her join us.

It rained the first few days of the week-and at last it got cooler.  The floss flowers celebrated by opening their delicate blossoms, with all their heart.  The loosestrife is fading fast, but the stalwart rose-of-sharon, still blooms.   . .and the wild mulberry is starting to don those bright fuchsia  berries along the edge of the young woods.  Leaves fall leisurely now revealing empty nests and corn fields are a warm tawny brown.  There is a different smell for each season.  Early autumn has the smell of leaves and in the country there is a faint smell of smoke, most days.   
In the farmhouse and barns, we have always done a thorough cleaning, just as in spring, in the fall.  Just knowing shortly, we will be shut up  in the house, makes me want everything clean.  I started early this year, before there was any chill in the air.  As it turns out . . .that was a good thing.  I got a call last week from a young man interested in the house.  I had been thinking, I would put the house back on the market. 
The memory of almost selling the farm, had at last dimmed enough, that I could entertain the notion, again.  I still have boxes, awaiting their destiny, to prove the thing happened.  Of course, Daddy got sick and had I moved, I would never had been able to be with him and Mama as much, so in some way, I really consider the fiasco a blessing now. 
With the farmhouse not getting a bit smaller and the territory not slacking a bit, in its’ needs and me not getting a day younger, the thought had crossed my mind, to sell.  The young man and I set an appointment for Sunday.  With little Ryans’ first birthday party, scheduled for Saturday (two hours from the rabbitpatch)  my work was cut out for me.  Thank Goodness, I had started early.  Christian and I worked diligently every evening .  By the time Mama and I left on Saturday morning, the house was in good order, with very little left to do on Sunday morning.   
Ryans’ party was at the beach, where Brant had been working on a cottage this past week.  All of the same loved ones were there, from Brynns’ party – and Sydneys’ parents and brother, as well.   It was a delightful time  without a single dull moment.  Brant and Sydney asked us to bring things to fill a “time capsule” for Ryan to open on his eighteenth birthday.  It seems so far away, to think of that, but I know it will slip up on us suddenly, in the blink of an eye . . .much like his first birthday.   Ryan concluded the celebration with his own little cake to discover.  He played in the cake and wasn’t interested in eating it.  We all had fancy cupcakes.  Tres thought I was quite messy, for he saw  icing all over my hands . . . but it was really paint, from my work at the house! 
 So dear Brynn is two and Ryan is one.  . .and it is shocking to me-and more so than my hair, which is the color of a silver dollar, since I left it to its’ own devices!  I just had gotten used to the fact, that my own children grew up! 
 Sunday dawned “bight and beautiful”.  Christian and I did some last minute things and by the time the young man came, I was having an afternoon coffee. Several family members came with him, and my heart swelled in gladness that he had them to lend their wisdom.  They were a friendly lot and it didn’t hurt one bit, that they liked the rabbitpatch.  Time will tell if things work out.  It always does.  




No Matter What Direction

A lot of things can happen in a week. Sometimes, a week passes in an ordinary fashion. Sometimes, it does not.
My dads’ dog died this past week. It was sudden and unexpected. “Casper’ was a samoyed and though he was eleven years old, he had the face of a puppy-and no ailments.
He was a rascal of a dog. Daddy could hardly work on a motor without Casper peering over his shoulder, for Casper was downright nosey. He was a happy dog and always ready to fetch a ball. He barked whenever anything came up, like lunch or he couldn’t see his folks. We had made sure that Casper and Daddy visited, when Daddy became confined to the bed. Casper loved Daddy and Daddy loved Casper.
When Daddy passed, Casper took on a new mission. He didn’t let Mama out of his sight. I think it is safe to say that Mama likes dogs, but saying she is a “dog lover” would be a stretch. Casper did not take this in to account and went on about his business of being a very devoted guardian and a loyal friend. . . and when he died, Mama cried.
A day or so later, I went to the cemetery with Mama. It was the first time that I had been since Daddy died. Mama tends his grave, lovingly. My sisters have bought flowers and have been more attentive than I have been. They visit the grave regularly. I think now, that I will do better.
Afterwards, Mama and I went to her parents grave, (my “Pop and Grandmama”), then to Aunt Josies’ grave, Aunt Agnes, Mama Hodges, Aunt Virginia until we had seen several generations of our people. It dawned on me, how many loved ones that we had lost. I remembered them all . . . Mama Hodges, sternness-and her pound cakes . . . Merry, flashy Aunt Agnes , quiet ,gentle Aunt Virginia . . . .and I missed all of them, suddenly and deeply. It seemed so long ago, too, longer than it had ever been, since the days we were all together. To their credit, they each, left an impression on me that has not tarnished over the decades. Love is not prone to fade -like old curtains. I realised, that I was still, “living off their love” . . and gratitude washed over me, like rain. Oddly, I did not leave the cemetery, feeling depleted. Instead, I was full of gladness for the gift of my elders.
Since, that day, I have wondered if some of my stubbornness about abandoning the “old ways” might be some sort of tribute to that beloved time. I do think, that a lot of precious things have been discarded, in our haste to do more, go more and have more.
September came and at last, it is a bit cooler. I went to see my little grand daughters. There were at least five dolls sleeping in the guest room, so I had to enter quietly. Lyla and now, Brynn are full time mothers and have “children” to tend to in every room. The minute Lyla is dressed and had breakfast, she makes sure every doll has risen and brushed their teeth, Brynn will use whatever she has at hand for a baby blanket . . .a dish towel suits her just fine. She plops a baby in a little carriage and off she goes strolling the house. Brynn has even convinced her Uncle Tres to hold a doll, tenderly.
I am constantly amused for it is serious business to tend to those dolls.

With a bright day dawning and a slightly cool breeze blowing, all of the dolls were put to bed, one day and we visited with the laughing river, a while. Lyla looks for birds and fairies. Brynn looks for unsuspecting cats. On this walk, Lyla and I talked about old trees and all they offer. I am always in awe of old trees.
On Sunday morning, after breakfast, I stayed in the kitchen.  This day, we were going to visit “Aunt J” .  Aunt J is Wills’ aunt, but we all claim her.  She is a cheerful, thoughtful and generous soul.  She is always doing something for others, and so today  I would make some dishes, that she especially likes.  Lyla was not interested in the pimento cheese or the chicken salad. but when we needed to whip cream for a dessert, she was glad to help.
My friend Elaine, was out strolling with Miss Thelma, that afternoon after the visit with Aunt J.  I had a basket of the same fare, I was delivering to Miss Thelma.   What a sweet sight it was to see the two of them.  There we stood in the sunshine while Lyla danced around the willow tree.  
Vector illustration of tree with falling leaves
 The next day, I came back to the rabbitpatch, where the floss flowers are blooming.  The purple loosestrife is blooming too.  Around the curve in the garden path, a  small sea of pale lavender and periwinkle blossoms greet me.  What a lovely pairing of colors, I always think.   Further on, the ” Autumn Joy” is shyly sporting pale pink blossoms, which will deepen to burgundy, by October.  Morning Glory vines  claim every bit of territory, that they can.  It is a good thing that I am so fond of them. 
September is a lovely time and is like a threshold to that glorious autumn season.  Right, when I am sure I am going to wilt in the sweltering southern heat, a September morning will dawn cool . . .and full of morning glory. 



Two of my grand children were born in September.  Brynn, two years ago, which seems impossible . . and little Ryan a year ago.  Brynn is now talking and Ryan is walking.  My nephew, Brandon was born in September too-on his dads’ birthday, at that!  Brandon and I used to ramble in the woods, looking for old bottles and other relics.  It seems that  it was just a few years ago, but Brandon, is a young man now-a noble young man, that makes me proud and glad.  . . so those walks I remember fondly, happened a long while back.  
September is a time to remember. It is a time to “ask for the old paths ” , and to ask “where is the good way” ?  It is a time of gratitude for our children , bestowed on us like holy gifts.  I know this . . . no matter which direction, I look, backwards or forwards, or sideways at the present  . . . my  blessings have always been abundant.