“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!

 

22 thoughts on ““Come Rain or Shine”

  1. Rainy days don’t matter one jot when the children come home. I haven’t seen mine in a year and a half. Enjoy, enjoy. And, yes, bittersweet time for Lyla. Bound to bring tears to your eyes. But grow she must. Hugs from Maine!

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  2. Wonderful post, Michele, you’ve penned your thoughts so well. I loved this: “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.”
    Sounds like you have been VERY busy around your patch. Your farm memories from bygone days brought a wistful nostalgia. Your old big barn may be very valuable in terms of barn boards and beams. Around here in New England, they fetch a good price and are sought after. It makes me sad though to see all those old barns go and where will the swallows nest then? We used to see so many every summer and each year fewer return. 😦

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    1. H Eliza-I am late again, but so grateful to hear from you. Tres (Trace) my son wants me to sell the lumber and I might. Some part of it could be preserved in that way. I have eight other barns, so do not fret for the swallows. . .but how wonderful to know you would. love Michele

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  3. I loved reading your very lyrical post, Michele. How lovely that the children are coming home and you have prepared for them I suspect it won’t matter a scrap whether it rains or not. You’ll find the perfect way to celebrate.

    Thank you for writing so elegantly about your farm. It provides such insight for those of us who live in big cities on the other side of the world. I’m glad you’ve decided to keep the two storey barn. It sounds like an absolute treasure with so many memories. Maureen xx

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  4. The children are coming home! What marvelous words!! And Lyla wants to be an artist! There are so many things to be thankful for! I hope your picnic will be dry, though I know it will be marvelous despite rain.

    We are having a neighborhood picnic on Monday. Since I am not in charge, I haven’t looked at the weather forecast. I’ve made a Devil’s Food cake from scratch and will frost it tomorrow. Cake is more likely to be a hit than potato salad. In NY, that was always what folks wanted me to bring. I inherited a recipe that was as good or better than any from a top-notch deli. It does not appeal to our crowd who grew up in the mid-West, Florida, and NC mountains.

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  5. Dearest Michele:

    You will not be in the least surprised to hear how I was stunned to speechlessness reading the first paragraph, and of the love and reverence for the old ways as well as the old things. It truly was magical, as if reading my own thoughts about writing all day inside my head and cherishing the old barn so much that I caused a rift between my wife and I by refusing an offer of $4,000.
    She really made no argument about it, but was clearly not in agreement. She wasn’t entirely wrong, of course. Half of all belonged to her. We didn’t use it at all, though the space was convenient for summer chairs in winter and sleds in summer and the occasional piece of large furniture that was between destinations. An addition on the back had already caved in. A few loose boards and old paint, and one had to be you or I to be blind to all that and see only the heart and spirit of the thing.
    In the years that followed, a heavy snow collapsed a large portion of the roof. Thoughts came and went about looking to repair or propping it up or having it dismantled. This thinking went on for so long that more of the roof and a few other parts began to go. It’s not that I was frozen so much as driven to let time and the cosmos and the barn to do their will as they pleased. Like when Chuy was in his last year and I didn’t want to take him to the vet because I didn’t want them to tell me he had “such-and-such” terminal condition and recommend that I hasten his demise by “putting him down”.
    Was I right? Was I wrong? Would the universe even recognize such concepts?
    Chuy died at home, and was interred right here in the yard of his dominion before sunset.
    The barn fell. More interminable thinking leaves it still lying akimbo behind the house, weeds and now sumacs beginning to grow in places that have not seen the light of day in 100 years.
    My wife died, and so any rift over it is rendered moot and gone forever.
    Most folks would call it something between unsightly, irresponsible or neglectful to see the heap of giant pick-up sticks and jutting beams lying there. And I am not blind to that entirely.
    But I look into the jumble and see the adz marks on whole trees used for beams, and the bent and mangled trolley that spanned it’s length from the high loft door to the hay mow. I see the corner where we found the baby rabbit, the nail on the beam that matches the scar on my daughter’s belly. I see the headboard of a bedframe I placed there “for now” thirty-five years ago.
    Somehow I am still attached to the tumble-down broken old thing. Personification, I suppose, as it reminds me how Chuy was old and broken down, too, yet we loved every day together right to his last. We took a morning walk just an hour before he died and I cherish the bittersweet moments within that memory.
    My mom was still as beautiful as ever, but was also old and a little broken down, too.
    And my dad.
    And my wife.
    I wish I could hang around another 50 or 75 years to be sure the old barn goes its own way in peace, but that seems unlikely. I guess the best I can hope for is that my children will have the heart and stamina to continue to cherish me when I am old and fallen.

    Sorry to commandeer your blog, but I know you won’t mind because you are an alter me, and I would be delighted if you did so on my blogs.
    I’ll write soon on Life In Engleville of Kerry’s “picnic” at the farm yesterday. 40 vendors, 300 guests, light rain and wind, and 48 degrees!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, dearest friend, for starting my Sunday with the best tears of the many I have cried this week, most have which emanate from the well of peace, joy and love for the world I am returning to. Filled with gentle hearts and beautiful things like old barns, new graduates, and the love of friends like you.

    All my best,

    Scott

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    1. I so hope everybody reads this. I may not be the only one tearing up! I have read it several times now-I will read it again. If it matters, I think you right by your dog. He left on his own . . which is honorable. Now the barn story . . must we always be in the same spot? I have to laugh at that. You made me love your old barn and I think you should share the story. I do not know the fate of my own relic. Being sentimental is beautiful and yet hard too. Maybe it is wise and maybe it is foolish . . yet it is our lot. You are welcome on my blog . .always. I count it a privilege to know you! x Michele

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  6. Such a wonderful post to read…I can picture everything just as you describe it. My four children were home this weekend with their spouses and children. So nice to see all the kids and grandchildren. My youngest is only twenty and he is the only one not married. The grandchildren played beneath the Magnolia tree and I had great fun taking pictures of them in them in their ‘house’.

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    1. Oh! be still my heart! I think we could be sister friends! What a lovely picture of children under a magnolia tree. What a lovely gathering you all must have had-do you pine, as I do when they leave? Thank you, love Michele

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  7. This made me teary, as I haven´t been “home” to Ph for quite a while. I missed being with the big clan and seeing them, eating and celebrating together. Yes, there is too much chaos in big family gatherings but there is also so much happiness.

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