“Come Rain or Shine”

It is early morning as I write this.  . . the tender hour, when the light of the day is born.  I “write ” all day long, in my head – but it always takes  a morning for me to gather my thoughts to pen them.  Often, they are like wayward children running wildly, in all directions!  Sometimes they shout and sometimes, they peek out shyly from some shady bracken. For some odd reason, they all come home, in the mornings.
I have almost got the rabbitpatch civilized!  There are but two barns left to tidy and a large pile of old leaves awaits, but I am “down to the short rows”,  as my Pop used to say.  I suspect, not many folks use that phrase today, or have an inklng what it means.  If you have ever chopped a field , then you would.  The long rows were situated n the middle of the field-and it seemed you would land there, about mid day.  The blessed short rows were on the outer edge, allowing a tractor room to turn around.  To encourage one another, my cousins and I would call out to one another “We are almost at the short rows!”  I can only imagine that when Grandmama got the announcement, she scurried to the kitchen.   
One of the barns is a one day affair.  It  is mostly just dirty, but the other barn is a different story.  The oldest barn is a massive two story structure, known around here, as a packhouse.  The packhouses, of yesteryears, were meant to store crops.  Dried tobacco was taken off the sticks, they had been tied on, before curing in fired barns.  Farm children learned the nursery rhymes in these barns . . and babies slept.  I suppose “raised in a barn”  rings true for many a country child. 
My old barn got converted to uses for gatherings.  The upstairs had four or five old iron beds for “primitive camp outs”  Those were golden days, but alas, tin came loose, an upstairs door fell off and there is a large portion of rotten flooring on the bottom story. Tres says, “tear it down” . . but I declare if the right one comes along, they might make a go at salvaging it.  Trse is usually right. He is sensible and I am hopelessly sentimental, after all.  Still, I am going to do what I can in that old  enormous relic.  Upon my prowling in that old barn , I discovered that the swallows are back! 
I may be the only fan of these little, startling birds.  Besides being delicate little birds, they can be warriors over their young and take to swooping and diving at harmless folks, just getting a shovel.  You can’t even bribe them with food, for their diet is mainly flying insects.  I get in their good graces by just sitting in their presence.  They seem to soon learn that there isn’t a bit of malice in this human and will tolerate my presence. 
Barn swallows, like the grape vines and winter wheat, serve as clocks and calendars for me.   Sunshine determines  the length of a day.  What a beautiful contrast such things are, to jarring alarms and obligations on a calendar. I went about the business of cleaning out and sprucing up.  I do love to work and make things better, as I always say . . whether or not we are having a picnic  -but this time we are!  The children and grandchildren are coming this weekend and a picnic is planned.  It has not rained here in a long while, but the forecast says it may, that day! 
I do have a shelter, and you can believe the housekeeping is completed there.  Several tables have been scrubbed and painted, the walls are washed and the little china cabinet fairly shines !  Living on this rabbitpatch is a full time job!
Besides all of this commotion, Tres and Sarah  have birthdays on Wednesday!  They are going to the mountains to celebrate and so they will miss the picnic.  I gave Tres two solar lanterns and a flashlight that does everything but cook biscuits!  Sarahs’ gift is to remain a mystery, until she opens it. 
I left for Elizabeth City after  Tres had opened his gifts.  Lyla attended preschool this year though she could have gone to kindergarten.  I was so glad for that .  Her graduation was on Thursday.   That morning, Brynn and Lyla put on fancy dresses.  Brynn wailed the minute Lyla left with Will, for Lyla had to go early.  Jenny said that Brynn cried whenever Lyla left the house. I did not expect to, but I  cried too, just hours later.  I was so moved that slow  tears welled up and splashed like a very lazy waterfall, during the program.  Next year, will be very different, as I know all too well. I felt, like Brynn . . “Lyla . . was leaving the house.”
After the pledges and songs,each  childs’ name was announced and “and what they wanted to be, when they grew up” was declared.  Many said firemen. one a police officer. One wanted to work on old trucks with his daddy  . .and one said, artist!-my Lyla- and I was thrilled!  Shortly, after lunch, I was headed back to the rabbitpatch.   . .”with visions of sugar plums, dancing in my head” -and why,  did they have to grow up so very fast.   
I found the rabbitpatch, as tidy as I had left it. The table  cloths, that I ordered were in a box on the porch.  I ordered cloth ones that were the traditional red and white checked.  The forecast does not deem a single day of the next three, suitable, for a picnic.   We need rain so badly, that I will not complain.  My rain catching buckets are all bone dry and even the hydrangeas are weepy.    The truth is . . “Come rain or shine” . .  .the children are coming home!


“The Best is Yet to Come”

It is a very cool morning and quite early-barely light, as I write my first words of this day.  Some hours, I love more than others . . .morning hours are some of those.  I gather my thoughts as I watch the day bloom with light .  Hope wells up in my heart like a fountain and there is a sense of well being.  The grandeur  of  a sunrise, humbles me every time.  It is  just never “old hat”.
I said before, that I had never seen such an early spring-now I say that  have never seen such a long one, too!  In the south, spring weather is usually a brief affair.  . . a few weeks of pleasant days and then it is hot!  I am not sure what to make of it-and neither do the irises, nor the privets nor the fireflies, for they are all doing now, what they usually do in mid June.  So are the thorned vines.   My last diary entry was left as “waiting for the dust to settle” .  Some of it has.
It seems that I am soon to be semi retired.  I did reach that golden age of 62 in April, after all.  This will mean a much tighter budget.  . .and God forbid a calamity of any sort arise.  I do not mind being frugal.  It is about second nature to me.  My elders drilled the “sin of wastefulness” in me, til at last it stuck.  That ought to come in handy.
I love pretty things as much as the next person, but I do know the difference in want and need.  What I do need, is more time with my loved ones, for the grandchildren grow wildly fast.  There is my mother, who deserves more than I give her  – and my sisters and there is nature . . .and I can afford  all of that!  Maybe in some odd way, “I hit the “jackpot!”
Now, on the way to that conclusion, a lot happened.  My thoughts were muddled and so I cleaned and painted the linen closet. My laundry room got a thorough cleaning.  Flower pots got painted and  so did the back door.  The territory around the rabbitpatch is almost something to brag about.  Each  completed task seemed like a small victory.  
In grief, I do not move.  When I am hurt, I sulk.  When I am sad,  I wallow in my misery and can barely think about supper. . . but worldly concerns, make me work. I suppose everybody that drives by the rabbitpatch knows I have had something on my mind, lately!    . .and  “lo and behold”, the rabbitpatch looks so happy! 
Mothers’  Day was a a happy occasion.  Delores, Dana and I spent the night at Mamas’,  Connie is a nurse and had to work, so she celebrated early with Mama.  Jenny said that Lyla made her a card and put it under her pillow. How, sweet, I thought.  Another sweet story is that Tres is back at the rabbitpatch! 
Tres finished  school and took the summer off to work.  How glad I am to have him sleeping under my roof again.  Thank Goodness, he had enough gas to get here, for he came on day one of the “shortage”.   
Now the work week progressed, without fanfare, which is the best kind of week, to me.  Children gather fragrant blossoms along the edge of the woods and hunt for turtles at recess.  (none of them would dare even bother a creature, but will sit and watch them, instead.) I have several students that sell fresh eggs and how proud they are of their speckled dozens.  I hear stories of new kittens and well mannered dogs are walked by older students daily, on campus.  A new puppy came to visit one day. Many students don crowns made of clover, these days.  All is not lost, I think. How hopeful, the “heart of a child”  can make you.  How good it is to think, that no matter how many dire circumstances, that modern man creates . . children still make jewelry from  flowers and search high and low, for kittens . . .in months like May. 
Time has passed in all sorts of happy ways, since that turbulent week, a fortnight ago.  What seemed so impossible, has lost its’ punch.  The truth is, I was facing things that I hadn’t any control over the outcomes. We  like to think we always “get a say” in all things – and we usually do.  We get  so used  to that feeling that when something, we can  not prepare for, pops up, we are shocked-and  are liable to be rattled, when it does. 
Now it is said that “hindsight   is  20/20”.   Looking back, what really happened, was simply a change of plans.   . .my own plans. Maybe, my plans were not the ones, intended for me . . maybe they were too shallow . .or too lofty.  I am choosing to believe, that no matter the reason . . “The Best is yet to come.”