The rabbitpatch is always quiet in winter -and this year more so than ever. Of course, there is no shortage of tasks and I have a borrowed book, that I need to read. There is a small cabinet to paint and a corner of the territory hemmed a foot deep in leaves . . but I have always viewed winter, as a time to rest . . .body and soul.
This is the time, I usually pick a subject to study. I do plan to research something, but for now, I’d as soon paint the table. ( I am still muddled from the months I followed politics fervently.) In that case, I will choose something to wonder about wisely. . .after I paint the cabinet.
This is Tres’ last week of winter break, therefore his last week here. He came in early December and of course, Christian and I dread him leaving. He will be back earning his second degree. It makes me dizzy to hear the names of his classes, but he enjoys them. How handy he has been! He has done several repairs, that were needed. He is good company and cheers me on in my own endeavors. Goodness, what a difference Tres makes at the rabbitpatch- and in so many ways. Of course, my loss is Lyla and Brynns’ gain, for they have missed their uncle and look forward to his return to Elizabeth City.
I am enjoying the stark winter beauty that has at last settled in. Some days are born in brightness, some are born in fog. “Jack Frost” turns up regularly, but never stays for supper! I do not frown on winter, as many do. Even living in a drafty farmhouse, where each room varies greatly in temperature, does not diminish my enthusiasm . I love the winter landscape too. The scene is simplistic. Fields lie in wait for April, as do the flowers. In the absence of leaves, sunlight falls lighting up the dark corners of the territory and what peculiar shadows the twisted branches of the oak make! The colors of the season are muted and I find that peaceful. The silver bark of the sycamore, the gently mottled pecan seem to implore one to slow down and take a close look. How pretty the redbirds are in such a time as winter and most especially when perched on a soft ash branch .
I do not mind the longer nights nor the later mornings, either. Home and hearth are revered more than ever, under such conditions. The old house is almost cold in the mornings and I rise reluctantly from soft, warm blankets, to warm the place up and start coffee. Now, I scurry back to my “nest”, for this is where I have my “early service” in winter. A large window, is my alter, for it frames the sunrise with precision. A pile of books is within arms’ reach ,to prod me on and a cup of coffee is added to the collection. There I await, the light. . .so I do not mind the “late mornings” of winter.
Unlike the rest of the year, by six o’clock in the evening, all who call the rabbitpatch home are settled in, while supper cooks. I see the lamps shining in my neighbors’ homes and am glad they too, are home, “safe and sound”. In warmer months, folks are likely to be anywhere doing many things . . .but all hearts come home in winter. . . and earlier than usual.
There is another thing about winter. My only daughter, Jenny was given to me on a bright, cold day, in January. Hence, she is my “lovely winter bird”. Now,she is all grown up with her own nest to tend. . .and oh how well she tends it. She was born with a mothers ‘ heart. She had lots of practice with her dolls and four brothers. How deftly she practices the fine art of mothering and “homemaking”. This is as noble an endeavor as there as ever was and I couldn’t be prouder of her. A mother “wears many hats” rings true . . .but so does a daughter and Jenny is all any of us could have ever hoped for.
Many people place great stock in a new year – and most especially this particular year. I have never been any good at making resolutions,just for the sake of it, for I must truly be convicted, to change a habit, or practice a new one…and I am likely to do so in months like May! Now, during the quiet time of Christmas, I did do a lot of thinking and self reflection.
There is just no shortage of things to ponder. For a long while, I was about overwhelmed with “the current state of the union”. I am still a bit shocked and so very disappointed too. It seems everyone wants to take some sort of spectacular stance on every subject known to man. The elders used to say, “you all would argue in a pie factory!”, when my cousins and I quarreled. (instead of eating pie). I think that sentiment rings true today. To me, the world got too loud. . .and I could not bear the noise so, I finally decided to just “Be still” -as it is written.
Now being still, is not for the faint of heart. It sounds like it is such a passive event-but for me, I must muster determination to quiet myself. It is my mission to dwell on what is holy. . . .and to live peaceably and without causing harm to this world.
When the time of thinking was over, I left for the gathering, in Elizabeth City. Brant and Sydney came with little Ryan, that evening. What a happy reunion, it was. Lyla and Brynn were so glad to see their “baby brother cousin”. Watching the three of them clapping their little hands, in unbridled joy, at the sight of one another, tickled my heart. We all stayed up past our usual bedtimes., in light of all that celebrating.
The next morning, as usual, Lyla and I were up before everyone else. We are always the “early birds”. Every time, someone awoke, they were greeted cheerfully, as if the night had kept us apart too long. After breakfast, Lyla and Sydney began work on a gingerbread house. We had quite a lengthy list on our agenda. There were two kinds of candy to make and cheese straws, several special meals and a few walks in the “new neighborhood”. Since it was raining and no end in sight, the strolls had to be abandoned. Because of this, it seemed someone was always in the kitchen.
We had several days together- but, being greedy, I never get my fill. How could I tire of those lovely folks! Brynn trying to tend to Ryan. Ryan following Lyla like a shadow -even the occasional squabbles, were cherished. Brynn at two, was reluctant to hand over all that was hers’ freely to Ryan. She would put up a fight for a little while, then smile sweetly and share , for she had established her independence to her satisfaction. Ryan has learned to say “no” and uses it appropriately. Even so, he remains mild and pleasant and very loving. Lyla shut the door to the playroom on the day, that her dolls were all sick. That sent wails of protests from the little ones.
I watched the children play with great amusement . It is another way to know them and what a delightful way to do so.
It rained day and night, the whole time of our holiday. This did not hinder our happiness, though I had looked forward to some leisure strolls. Several times, Ryan and I watched it rain through the window, together. He stared intently at the large silver drops falling- in wonder . . .so did I. May neither of us ever outgrow watching rain.
Somehow, the days were quickly accomplished. Brant and Sydney left on Saturday. I left on Sunday. Though, I am satisfied with life, it does seem to lack luster, after a gathering. Regular readers know, I am likely to whine and pine every time, in the days after a reunion.
I spent the next week restoring order in the old farmhouse. I went to work and cooked supper. Headlines went from bad to worse. The discord of man is as rampant as covid and apparently just as contagious. There are more ways than one to ail.
Meanwhile, the night sky is lit up with stars the size of silver dollars. The Handiwork of God is a stark and mighty contrast to the handiwork of man. In the early morning, there is that magical time, when the day awaits light. It is another favorite time of mine. . .it is my beloved “morning service”.
How beautiful, truth is and no one is better at truth, than trees. Their bare arms, covered only on frost, bravely proclaim, broken, jagged branches and the scars of former storms. The earth rests in winter and does not harbor hidden agendas and falsehoods, nor does it plot . The earth rises to the needs of all that call it “home” without showing privilege or discrimination. Therefore, I will renew my pledge to seek peace and cause no harm. This is the way I will do battle.