I did not have to work today, for now schools here, have an ever so often, “remote day”. I had dismantled every alarm and since rain was in the forecast, I had planned to sleep til at least dawn. I woke as usual, long before sunrise. I was wide awake right off and sprang out of bed like a rocket. The world was dark and there was a constant breeze rattling the drying leaves on the old trees. Not yet, has autumn bloomed here. The woodlands have only faded to a dull green, thus far. The days are as warm as April and only require a light sweater, in the early hours, The windows are still up at the rabbitpatch.
The time I spent with Ryan, pn my last visit, was hallowed to me. He is as delightful as ever and rarely cries. We took a few strolls and I showed him the sky, til he would point it out to me. A few of the maples were adorned in scarlet and so I ended up with a maple leaf, to press in Ryans’ journal. . .for of course I introduced him to the trees. There was also the moon, which he already knew about -and birds. I would be hard pressed to name a more delightful moment, than when Ryans’ fair face is gazing in sheer wonder at the Handiwork of God.
One day, we visited a pumpkin patch. It was the biggest pumpkin patch that i had ever seen. Rolling hills were covered with bright splashes of orange. There was a corn maze and a hay ride-all sorts of activities, but we declined all of them. Instead we walked by the corn field. Ryan loved the freedom of open air and open space to frolic in. We left with pumpkins and blackberry sauce. . . and a wonderful memory.
Now the work week went along, til it was Friday. That was the day that Mama and I left to go see my sister, Delores and niece, Dana, at their beach house. . . three hours away.
The GPS on Mamas’ car worked the first few hours, then the screen went blank and the thing started barking all sorts of bad directions. Regular readers know this was a nightmare come true, for me. Traffic was awful and convinced me everybody was late for something. . . and had nine lives. I resorted to reading signs, like we used to and at long last, with a call or two to Delores, we made it. It had taken us an hour longer, than expected. Dana presented us with gifts as soon as we were settled and that took a lot of the sting out of our harrowing trip. Dana is an artist in heart and so she made us bracelets. Mine had a honeybee on it!
On Saturday, not long after breakfast, we went to the soft sands by the mighty Atlantic. There were a few folks in the distance and the weather was perfect. The ocean waves were gentle and lapped softly on the shore. For a while we collected shells and neglected our books. I collected shells for my friend, Elaine, for she is a devoted care giver for her husband and Miss Thelma. Her outings are limited to appointments and grocery pick up. I started making “pictures” with shells for amusement and made several little birds. Then we all sat and talked, and neglected our books some more. It is not often, the ocean seems drowsy and without constant churning, the water was a pure aqua color. It was worth neglecting a book, to hear my Mama laugh by such a sea. . .and to listen to my sisters’ hopes and dreams.
Delores has a lovely house. It is spacious and furnished beautifully. If it were featured in a magazine, I would not be shocked. Every bedroom has a large balcony and so does the dining area and the living room. Meals was prepared precisely. Delores used measuring cups and spoons and timers- a far cry from my sloppy methods -and each meal was applauded.
You probably know that Mama and I dreaded the trip back. Delores had found some type of GPS on Mamas’ fancy phone and assured us it would be accurate. Still, I had her at least tell me how to get off the island. “Left, left, right, left” I chanted as we drove away. The homes there were all extravagant and painted in every pastel, I could name . . but mostly empty of people. When Mama and I got to the main roads, I kept a cautious eye on where we were, just in case -but the gps did chime in and relieved my concerns. We were home at the predicted hour, as it turned out.
For a while, the ocean was mine, and I had the sea shells to prove it. I was part of a different world, where there were no folks to ask me who I was voting for and covid was not a threat on the sandy shore. The Atlantic was singing and shining for the world, no matter our transgressions against her, for “love keeps no record of wrongs.” In these “unfamiliar days, of unfamiliar ways, nature remains as steadfast as the arms of a mother. . . and like a mother, talks to us without insincerity and without malice . Even a young pine knows that . . .and an old sparrow, does too.
There is a light rain falling this morning, from a silvery sky. It taps on the leaves, which are just sparsely scattered on the territory. The blooms of the goldenrod seems to light up the edge of the woods, on such days. Still, there is some patches of late blooming floss flower -and the grass is still green. The old barns look even older . . .when it rains. Sundays are especially quiet in our farming community. The farmers do not pick corn, unless there is threatening weather predicted-and no one can repair a barn nor mow the lawn, even if they were a might to -in rain. A rainy Sunday suits me just fine.
I am rarely home on weekends and so there are all sorts of “tasks at hand” to tend. Yesterday, I made a small fire in the garden and burned a bit of debris from the hurricane, a month ago. Half of the garden is still piled high, but I like tending small fires and therefore, may be burning in December!
Years ago, when the boys were here, burning the garden was like a celebration. A small fire is prone to make you think peaceful thoughts or to make you think of nothing at all. To be friendly, the fire should be small and burn slowly. Different woods produce different smells. When there is a tinge of pine, I am most delighted. Now, the boxer loves a fire too and races around when he sees me gathering pine cones to start one. Once there are flames, he falls asleep. The cat watches intently, as I do. I still enjoy a fire, but it was better when the boys were here.
I couldn’t help but cook today, just as I couldn’t help but write. The conditions were perfect for both. I am making dishes, with Mama in mind. So far, she has chili and biscuits. Spaghetti sauce is simmering and I am thinking to make asparagus in a creamy, buttery soup with garlic. I do hope to makes something sweet, for I have such a “sweet tooth” . . but Mama is so much more sensible than I am, when it comes down to sweets. Christian is too, so it always falls on me not to waste a cake or a cookie. As the food simmers and fills the house with enticing aromas, I hum a merry tune as I go about other business. . .and there always is “business that needs tending” when you live on a rabbitpatch.
On Monday, I was up before the crack of dawn. I had lessons for remote learning students and like everything else, the process has changed. I declare that I learn technology as slowly as “molasses pour in January” . I have lessons in my head that have to “roost” there til I can get them posted. Still, I can wash clothes or cook beans while I mull through things, so I ought not to complain. . . and the presence of the boxer is so very pleasant.
In the late afternoon, I visited with Mama and presented her with my efforts in the kitchen on Sunday. She was especially happy about the biscuits. Mama is doing as well as anybody could, with a life turned upside down. Daddy died six months ago and all of us are still apt to burst in to tears at any given moment. We sat on the porch, as it was a nice day.
It seems to me, that taking time to mourn, is quite necessary, but the odds are just against having that opportunity, in our very modern ways. We are expected to return to our routine, in a matter of days, even if your Daddy dies. I thought about this when Grandmama died. Kyle was in high school, and was told to write a paper about why he missed three days of school, without a note from a doctor. To me, it seemed like a punishment. Grandmama lived with us and died with us. . . You must know, that I helped Kyle write that paper.
I know first hand, that no matter how great the loss, no matter how vast the void imposed . . that we must find our way back to living with it. Still, I think we need more that a few days -or the day after the funeral, to even begin the processing of healing a single iota. The world is just not set up , to do so. Daddy died during the covid “lock down” . School was closed, but , there was so much business to tend to, that I remember saying over and over . . .” I will cry later”.
The days were lovely this week and perfect for dancing outside. We are working on an almost military style dance and it takes a good deal of muscle and memory. We take breaks often. This week we sat and watched clouds, on our breaks. The class of young children became silent, I noticed and when I looked around, every one of them was staring with great concentration. I wondered that day, if anything greater could have happened in music class.
Before, I knew it, it was Friday and I was packing to go to Raleigh to see my son, Brant and his family. I was up early enough, that I had completed my work for school, so I left in the early afternoon. I drove through a light rain, a heavy rain and an outright storm, as it turned out. Traffic was light, thankfully and I was soon at the home on Hamlet Green, where some folks beloved to me, live. It had been just over a month since I had seen Ryan last . . . .and that was way too long, for this Honeybee.
I spent a delightful weekend in Elizabeth City. The weather was as lovely, as I have ever seen. It is true, that I can be quite fickle about seasons, but these days, I declare that autumn is my favorite. The hateful southern humidity vanishes and the brightest days of the year are here. Evenings are chilly and so are mornings. A light soft blanket will do just fine. . . .and supper can be bit heartier, than in months like July.
The little grand daughters and I took several walks by the laughing river, during my visit. The constant breeze seemed to tickle the shining water. Lyla walks now, beside a fancy little stroller for Brynn. One day, we walked over a mile. It was too lovely a day not to do so. Lyla never complained, but she did say, when her home was in sight, “I am going to take my shoes off, as soon as we get in.” -and she did.
Another day, when we walked, the river was a deep purple. What a pretty sight that was! The sky was a royal blue and here and there were stark white, cotton clouds. Some of the dogwoods have started to turn crimson and their berries are already a bright red. We watched a small family of birds have a late breakfast of them. The birds chattered cheerfully and caused quite a commotion as they feasted on the generous bounty of October.
I tucked these things in my heart and told Lyla to do the same. I have had this practice, for decades. My idea is that if you fill your heart with gladness and beauty, there won’t be as much room for undesirable notions . Besides, it can’t do a bit of harm.
With such turbulent times, I have slipped back into the habit of keeping up, somewhat with the news. Of course, now one must sift through the many falsehoods, to find a single strand of truth. That is tiring. What truth, I do find -and I use that word loosely – is not pleasant. Everyone is full of harsh expression and folks are sorted into categories as if we were objects. I fear hearts have hardened. There are systems for everything “under the sun”, yet to me we are less civilized now, than ever.
Maybe, I have gotten old and grumpy. I will risk that and say, that a lot of things seem to “have taken a turn for the worse”. I agree with Solomon –for I too am dismayed with all the folly, but I am more determined than ever to live a meaningful life. . . so I have thought a lot lately about that.
I can not cure this virus, nor feed all the hungry people in this world. I can not clean up the planet, or make it a safe “playground” for its’ children. . oh, I do have quite a lofty “wish list”. . .but sometimes, it seems that what I am mostly doing is working to eat and keep the electricity bill paid! How shallow, I think. Lacking worldly power and influence, I have only very ordinary earthly means at my disposal. . . but I do not lack will and perseverance. I do not lack the capacity to love, either.
In light of all this “vexation”, I drew the conclusion that the contents of a meaningful life varies greatly, depending on whom you ask. For me, I will keep strolling along the banks of rivers and meandering through fields and woods. I will stand in moonshine and plant flowers. I will feed people as best I can and teach my grand children poetry. I will fill their hearts and souls with beauty and gratitude. I will try not to be wasteful and I will value the lives of strangers and sparrows, too. I will dwell on these things, for that is what I can do. . . but above all I will love . I do not suppose, my “meaningful ” life will change the world, but it may have its’moments. For all I know, that may be enough. After all, there have been many small moments, in my own life, that made a difference. . .and I can not dismiss the significance of my elders. Not a one of them could claim fame or fortunes, according to this world . . yet they left us all better off .
My paternal grandmother never had a drivers’ license. She did not hold a fancy job nor ever have fancy money, yet often we all talk about the grand legacy, she left us. Grandmama loved us with all her heart, and never made a secret of it. The way she loved impacted her children which impacted her grandchildren and all the children thereafter, which include my own grandchildren. Grandmama served God and she made no secret of that either. Grandmama ‘wore her sermons in her shoes” -and if she ever sinned, well, it was long before any of us came along. No one ever had a bad thing to say about her, and that ought to tell you something. Grandmama made a difference with her life. . .a mighty difference. So, I take heart in that and decide, to just watch the weather.
The diary of this country woman certainly is short on glamour and fanfare -but it is my own story, told in truth. . . and that ought to count for something. Maybe, if we all just try to seek whatever is pure and holy and good . . . . and love one another . . .maybe that is meaningful. . . maybe that is good enough.