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!