“The Country Goes to Town” … Again!


19894216_1620129274678701_562366030_n
You must get up mighty early, these days to see the sunrise.  . .but it is well worth the effort.  It is a holy time for me, when the light comes to the world, whether it it is blinding and joyful or shy and gentle.  Either way, the light proclaims, a new chance  for us. 
The contents of a day, can vary greatly. . .and not all are filled with pleasantries, but many are.  Most often, there is something to be glad about and most often, we needn’t “break a sweat” finding it.  More than ever, we must strive for hopeful things.
We must seek balance.  
Currently, with the whole planet, unsteady, I have thought a lot about this subject.  I have noticed, in the last decade, long before  this pandemic-(that I never imagined) that society in general seemed to be getting further and further away from authenticity.    In some way, we were already donning masks.  We were also already building  fortresses, which hid our truths.  No one wanted to admit they were older or made  just an average salary.  We validated our faults, instead of owning them and  striving to improve ourselves.  What a fruitless and tiring and complicated way of living.  Because we know, we can  not trust our own motives, we are  also, now a suspicious lot, as well.   
Now the present circumstances are trying, for all of us.  The headlines are always grim.   . . and what is yet to come, many fear.  I so wished I had a remedy for all-but I “know” less now than ever and  I realise  that   fully since the “shock” never gets chance to wear off.  In such conditions, I must cling to what  few things I have found steadfast -and “doctor” my self.
 In light of this,I make it my business to  fill my heart with all the goodness I can.  As a prime example, the neighbors have the loveliest  Mimosa tree blooming.  It is as happy a shade of  pink as I have ever seen.  I have several myself, on the rabbitpatch, but none that delightful color – and they all perfume, the evening air, til I scarce want to go in.  I always linger til the first stars appear.  The splendor of star shine has not diminished nor has the golden light of the moon that cracks through  the darkness of night.  
Every day I wander around the territory hunting thorned vines and poison ivy.  I am scratched up and have blisters on my hands, for I never come up short, on my hunt.  I have stepped in yet another hill of fire ants . . .but I  also came across a butterfly bush, in one of the far corners , blooming its’ heart out.  Now, because of that solitary thing of beauty, that “far corner” has become a destination, in my traipsing.  
The oldest barn has a bay that  leads to several small stables.  The boxer and I were walking through  early one morning, when we both heard a “tinkling sound”.  It reminded me of a small music box.  The boxer looked up-and was on high alert . . so I did too.  There, peeking over the top of a nest made of mud, was the  sweetest little face!  How could I have forgotten the return of  the darling swallows?   I appreciate the common swallows that brighten my walk.  Swallows do not have the best reputation, for they are liable to swoop at anyone, who dares to get near their nests . . .but they mate for life, and return dependably, to the same place each year to raise their brood.  The swallows and I are on good terms and  so they cheerfully allow me to adore their family. 
99be56f4bf6a952ec17dba69c4c9a45c 
The “country went to town again”, for on Sunday, I left for Raleigh.  The rabbitpatch was tidy, and I fixed several dishes for Christian and a cake, so he wouldn’t starve.  (I can not stop myself from this practice.)
Sydney has mostly worked from home, since Ryan was born-and then the pandemic.  There was a meeting she needed to attend in person, on Monday, hence my visit.  Of course,  I was happy to go and not even the drive hindered my enthusiasm.  8843bbd5c86b05231644af31c1e2b344
I stayed til Thursday.  Ryan was as bonnie as ever.  He is a calm, happy child and so loving.  I took him on several strolls.  Once we got caught in a sudden rain.  The cool drops fell on us and we neither minded.  One day, we climbed several hills, on our stroll.  The sunshine was hot, when we traveled the unshaded  patches of sidewalks.  The humidity was low, that day and so the sky was especially blue.  I never see a soul in the yards, and I wondered for a short while, if we were the only ones left in the world.  But there, in the far distance, I caught  a glimpse of a dog walker, and so that which I imagined, was not the case. 
Sydneys’ mom, came for a visit and how good it was for us to dote on little Ryan, together.  She stayed with me, while Sydney was at the meeting.  Between the two of us, Ryan was content and dry when his mom arrived home. 
Each evening, we all enjoyed a meal together.  I tried to fix dishes, that I knew were their favorites.  Sydney got her macaroni & cheese, Brant got his brunswick stew and we all enjoyed brownies – both, chocolate and strawberry batches.
One day, it was Thursday, and so I collected my things and left at mid afternoon.  It was a beautiful day -clear and bright.  I tucked a picture of Ryan sleeping contentedly in his mothers’ arm, deep in my heart , to savor on the trip home.

a1e253952706671cadbc6f5e38e7547d

I did something brave . . .for this “scared rabbit” anyway . . .I took a different route home!- and lived to tell about it!  That awful twisting turning detour was still in place, and I had heard Sydney talk about driving through a town called Zebulon.  and there at the intersection, just before the road construction, was a sign marking the road to Zebulon.  The GPS simply said “Drive ten miles” and did not seem alarmed in the least.  Ten miles later, I was on the highway to the “rabbitpatch”.   
Christian had made a pot of coffee, to welcome me home and the boxer pranced about, as we carried things in.  I looked around the tidy yard and noticed the lilies were blooming    – and the roses had clearly caught a “second wind”.
After supper, the boxer and I took a walk around the territory.  I spied a little, spotted  fawn .  He was walking around the yard as if he too was taking account of  such an evening.  I hushed the boxer, and he became as still as a  statue.   The fawn showed no sign of distress and did not hurry on his way back to the young woods.  I was sure his mother watched in terror, from the shadows. 
The corn had grown a least a foot, I noticed and the cotton field was green with plants in neat rows.  How lovely, it all looked in the amber rays of the sunset.   . . ‘  . . .even the very old and shabby barn .  

31b5537845f8a59f6dd755ae71b0a979

 

A Time to Remember


Featured Image -- 15455

I drove back to the rabbitpatch on Saturday . . in the rain.  I had been away a full week, and was only home several days, before that.  The rain was light and did not hinder me.  I always think of Mama, when I am driving in rain, for Mama loves to “ride in rain”.
Besides knowing the rabbitpatch was bound to need tending, besides missing my  son, Christian-and the boxer, it was Fathers’ Day on Sunday.  Mama and I had made plans to share a meal, as this was the first observance since Daddy passed in April.
April seems like yesterday . . .and sometimes it seems like  years ago.  I think of Daddy  all the time.  I thought of him at the beach, last week.  I think of him when I am watching birds – or the grandchildren.  He seems to be alive in my thoughts and I am likely to say “Isn’t the day so beautiful, Daddy?” as I am hanging clothes on the line.  I feel like he is with me and that death could not part us . . . but Fathers’Day  will not allow me to saunter through the day without  facing the harsh truth  . .that Daddy really died.  
I planned the meal carefully, of Mamas’ favorite dishes, omitting any reminders of what Daddy would have wanted.  Maybe next year, we will be able to eat barbecue . . .but this year we are having ham and potato salad, garden peas and cheese biscuits.  

87b4c609ca94fe59a8996dd0090cab82

If you have ever had a loss, then you know that the first year of holidays, is always the hardest.  Knowing this fully, I made up my mind, to rise with gladness on Sunday and start cooking, which is a favorite hobby for me.  That worked for at least a few minutes.  It didn’t help, that large and slow drops of rain fell, outside.  I tried to console myself, remembering that Daddy was well, now and not suffering . .that  I had  my Daddy for sixty-one years and that he was now, in the Presence of God,  for “goodness sakes!”  It did comfort me to consider all of that, but I did not ponder a single thing as I peeled the potatoes.
While everything cooked, I toured the rabbitpatch. The Cape Jasmine is in full bloom.  I intend to root some of them, this year,  It was not a good year for irises, but the hydrangeas are beautiful   The  territory is as green as it has ever been, on this first day of summer.  Along the edge of the woods, the rose-of Sharons bloom and the so do the fragrant butterfly bushes.  There were also the wild honeysuckle vines cascading  their delightful tendrils of blossoms.  The boxer stopped whenever I did, to look closely at a blossom, but his eyes darted here and there-on high alert . . . just in case, a wild rabbit dared cross our path.
I love dogs-but mine especially.  Cash is as loyal a friend, as can be.  He does not care about trends or pomp or status . . .or any of the trivial things, that humans tend to dwell on.   . .therefore, he does not wear clothes or have his nails painted.  I like dogs, just the way they are, as he likes me the same way.  He does not care, that I am letting my silver hair shine or that my skin is weathering daily.  He does not base his admiration for me on my salary, nor have an opinion  about my faults.  A dog just loves and serves . . .and they are good company.

06f4fdf1edcb3da6e2379c6ed3c01071

When the caramel apple cobbler was ready , I left for Mamas’.  I know that everyone will be  as pleased, as I was, that we had a delightful visit and it seemed to be, it was just what we both needed.  After supper, we strolled around the yard to look at her flowers.  I do not know if this is a southern custom or a “ladies custom” but I remember as a child, walking with Mama and Grandmama to see my great grandmothers’,  flowers,whom we called “Mama Hodges-at the close of every spring and summer visit.  I did not like the walk as a child, for Delores and I had to stay within their sight at all times so we had to abandon any form of mischief.  But . .  We also needed to stay out of earshot , so we could not hear the hushed tones of the women. As Mama and I walked around her yard, I remembered those days , now with fondness.

05b4c05c946d7d27edcc2525c75f2c44

The first days of summer are wonderful.  The June flowers are in their glory and oh how, they sweeten the air – and there are fireflies twinkling in the evening.  More and more, the stars  increase in numbers and the smell of charcoal tinges the evening air, for someone is having a picnic.  Meanwhile, the rabbits are feasting on clover and wild berries in the “enchanting evenings”  of early summer. 
I like to bring in bouquets of gardenias,-and lilies pair well with “Queen Annes’ lace.  I always had some sort of arrangement for those Sunday Dinners”, which now seem like affairs of  “olden times”.  We never seem to know which things will become precious memories.  We are prone to trying to create events that will surely be golden moments, but the truth is often, it is practices, that we remember.  The habits  that seem so ordinary, at the time, and surely not worthy of lasting a lifetime,  somehow do.  They are sweet and tender  recollections, without need of embellishments.
I know for me,  that I still remember playing in the shade of two massive oak trees, in months like June.  I remember hanging out clothes with Mama, and picking strawberries and setting up housekeeping in the barn, when it rained . . . and the sound of my maternal grandmothers, voice, though I have not heard it in more than fifty years now.  

 

174acf7b149b80ca635e0ce0a2218480

 Not every memory  mat evoke gratitude, nor loveliness.   I still shudder  remembering the last year of my fathers’ life.  . . but I can also remember the tireless care my mother gave him, the bravery my sisters’ mustered and the compassion of neighbors and friends.
The task at hand, seems to me, that we ought to hold on to, what was beautiful.

13164367_260633830950793_2955921840524185014_n

When it Rained by the Sea


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

Elizabeth City, is  just an hour from the coast. It is no wonder, that many residents of the town by the laughing river, have cottages by the Atlantic sea.  Wills’ family lends their cottage to he and Jenny for a certain week each year.  This past Friday, we left in the rain, for the time by the ocean.  The rain did not hamper our excitement, one iota.   
After we were settled, everyone relaxed.  Will and Brynn took a nap.  I began reading.  Just a bit later, I heard a slight commotion and it was Tres and Sarah, much to my delight.  I was surprised so pleasantly, as I had asked Tres, the night before, if maybe he would come for a day, at least.  He fumbled through the conversation, and I knew he was so busy with some very complicated studies, so I did not press him to commit.  Now, here they were with luggage!  Everyone laughed at my surprise.  We had dinner at the cottage, for we are all still cautious and do not go out.  Afterwards, once again, the cottage was quiet. . .and once again, I was reading.  I did not even hear the next bit of racket-but suddenly Jenny came in, holding Ryan!

5c7f2fbd360172b03ae1fc469c535e71

I was  stunned and could not make “heads nor tails” of it!  Brant and Sydney tumbled in seconds later . . .and they had luggage too!!  As it turns out, Jenny had arranged the whole affair, and all had rearranged their lives to make the gathering possible-a belated “Happy Birthday to me”!  I was one happy rabbit, to say the least.
Oh how happily, I drifted off to sleep, knowing the cottage was full of my darlings.  A light rain fell  and the waves of the Atlantic tumbled by gently.

6a6b95c0a6e2193eac193ef59e4a0589

The next morning, the rain fell steadily as we had our coffee.  One by one, the grandchildren woke and what sweet morning expressions, they wore.  Lyla is the early bird and awakes with “great expectations” every day.  Brynn and Ryan smiled shyly as each of us reaffirmed our love for them.  Each were greeted with “Good Morning, I love you.”  I cooked breakfast and listened to the happy chatter of  my clan-not one person complained about the out of season coolness and the consistent rain.
The days passed-every one wetter than the day before.  The men went to pick up carry out food, as most restaurants were practicing this service.  Tres found a deck of cards . Brant found little projects to do.  Sydney did a fancy hairstyle for Lyla and Brynn, did her best to “mother” little Ryan.  We feasted on fresh baked breads with Irish butter, gourmet cupcakes, and doughnuts Will picked up from a local bakery.  We ate sea food cooked various ways and were constantly amused in the antics of the grandchildren.  One of the things that warmed my heart was watching the way my family loved one another.  That is the purest form of gold, I think.  May it always be so, I prayed. 
Brant had a birthday during our “holiday”.  That was the day that Will, bought the doughnuts.  I told the story of that day.  It was a Sunday, and I told Mama that I was not going to church, as I felt a bit “off”.  Brants’ dad was working.  Mama promptly declared that she wasn’t going to church either.  She came to sit with me.  I hadn’t a single sign that I had heard about.  I just didn’t feel right.  There was nothing to “time” . . so Daddy planned a cook out!  I remember remarking that I could not believe he was planning a picnic at such a time.  I did not eat a bite, but showered and put on my favorite maternity dress -just in case.  By one pm, I left for the hospital and Brant was born at four pm.  A few days later, I brought him home-and showed him the Mimosa tree in full feathery bloom, before, I went in the house.  

fb85d9f5fb7c0def5f785bf0badab8c0

It never did stop raining, but on several occasions, there would be a brief lull between showers.  At those times, all scurried to the beach.  The wind blew fiercely and was so chilling, that no one lingered.  They did manage to get a few photographs, before the next batch of clouds gathered.  
The rain and cool weather was not the calamity, that it may seem.  The cottage was quite adequate.  Sometimes, it was lively and sometimes it was quiet.  It was always happy.  So many wonderful things happened, in the absence of clocks .  There were maternal conversations, shared by Sidney and Jenny and everyone napped with some child at some point.  The clouds had a fair share of “silver linings”.

f8e05d78276e2a10a591e6702eb6e7ed

“Parting is not such sweet sorrow.”   .  . .there is nothing sweet about it, to me.   . .but the day came anyway.  It was raining as we packed and  as we cleaned the house and as we loaded up.  We all promised to let one another know, when we arrived at our homes.
I have done a lot of thinking since the trip.  I realise more than ever, the joy of being loved.  To love and to be loved, is all its’ cracked up to be.   Love is the tie that binds, after all.  Jenny, orchestrated the entire thing , quite craftily, I must say, for she knew, I would love nothing better.  My sons , then cancelled plans readily, to accommodate such a venture.   I am completely humbled by their generosity and filled up with gratitude.
Something happened to me, during the rainy days by the sea but words fail me when I try to name it.  My gratitude increased greatly in a single bound, it seemed.   . . but it was more than that.  I felt content, which is more than happy.  I was completely satisfied and void of want.   I reflected deeply on my life, and I did not find it lacking.  I have no ambition to move from such a place, either.   
I am not immune to desires, even in light of this, but “sitting in a storehouse, counting out my money” pales in comparison, to  authentic “gold and silver” which does not diminish in value on the whims of society.  I  must do better to love bigger and better.  I should remember that all acts of kindness, compassion, generosity and forgiveness stem from  love.  It is so easy to love my family, but  might I strive to remember that all folks are sons and daughters, when you think about it.  I will spend some time considering this lofty and complicated subject.   . .meanwhile,   I still have high hopes for a small cottage  -and a good pair of boots.
104339932_3419191814772429_8777149593886752252_o 104428596_3419192171439060_5458237571908048838_o 104322367_3419192958105648_6731780326293399197_o 104646767_3419192794772331_2965338671250370071_o 83104587_3419192164772394_7327254872385932466_o

104392463_10220515117022170_3210245666554824402_o 82927380_574221843238910_6917759219954632948_n

A Capital Event


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

Lo and behold!  I drove to Raleigh!  It came about “for the love” of Brant, Sydney and Ryan”.   This news may not seem “earth shattering” but I dare say, that   regular readers are shocked, for I have made no secret of my dislike of driving on “roads less traveled”, in my scant collection of journeys. 
I am a careful driver and thankfully, do not suffer from “road rage”.   . .instead I am fearful.  I am scared the old car will break down on a desolate strip of highway or I will get eternally lost, and never be heard from again  . . or be on the road after dark!.   . .oh what doom lies ahead, I wonder. 
Brant and Sydney  were moving and little Ryan  needed his “Honeybee” to care for him as they “set up housekeeping”.  Besides,  that I wanted to  master the trip to Raleigh, just as I had the road to Elizabeth City.  So, Brant installed a GPS on my car and off I went into a world gone wild, on top of everything else. 
I was determined on Wednesday morning, to rise above and beyond my  grim expectations .  The morning was glorious and Sydneys’ mom called right off to cheer me on.  Traffic was light on the long stretch of highway, and so at some point, I called Mama and Delores, to let them know where I was -just in case I went missing, they would know where I was last.   I told Delores that all was well . . .and I was almost really cheerful . . .until I saw the flashing “DETOUR” sign.  
Yes,  I had the GPS on and yes, the detour route was clearly marked, but how unsettling, still!  At least, the landscape was appealing.  There were beautiful rolling hills and elderberry was blooming everywhere.  Some horses were grazing in a pasture by a small church. Pink mimosa blossoms dotted the woodlands and oh how lovely, I thought.   Somehow, I lost the panic and decided I was going to be fine, after all.
The next thing I knew, I was right in front “of my destination”.  The GPS kept informing me until finally, I got out of the car.  There was Sydney, holding little Ryan, in the yard. That was a sweet sight.

13895268_299531330394376_3979181968724719654_n

I stayed six days.  Sydney worked on putting things away, for there was no shortage of boxes to unpack.  She is a meticulous person and even watching her  fold the  laundry is like watching an artist at work.  Her linen closet should be featured in a magazine.  She had taken great effort in the guest room, and it showed.  Her kitchen was tidy and well stocked, too.  She worked in the house while Brant was at work and Ryan and I strolled the community in the capital city.  
The first day, I called out to Sydney, not to worry, for I was used to strolling an hour or more with Lyla and Brynn. . . but I had not taken the hills in Raleigh into account.  Within thirty minutes, I turned back.  Going uphill, was tiring   -and so was going downhill!  I learned very quickly, the route with stretches of level sidewalks. 
In the evenings, while Ryan slept, Brant worked in the garage and I cooked supper.  

514408b75a93b1831a27cc72889c300f

Sydney had a birthday, and so between the chores, we celebrated.  Her mom came with a box of cupcakes (the best I have ever had) and in the evening, we all celebrated with a special meal.  I just love everyone I have met in Sydneys’ family.  
My sister Delores, lives in the area, but had been visiting with Mama.  Not long after she came home, she and Dana paid us a visit.  Delores just adores babies and so she showered Ryan with love.  He fell asleep in her arms and so she stayed longer than she had intended.  I suspect supper was late that night, for her family.
The days flew by as they always do when I am in the presence of loved ones.  This was the longest time that I had ever spent with little Ryan.  I can say whole heartedly,  that he is a happy child and so loving.  Brant and Sydney are wonderful parents and they too are happy- all of this is worth its’ weight in gold.   After all, of all the things we hope for our children, happiness matters most.

296d763d1a403a128db5896eedaad54b

The day came, for me to leave.  It was a bright sunny day, but though, I had stayed a day longer, than I had planned, I still felt melancholy.  Oddly, I wasn’t worried about driving home.  I had made it through that terrible detour once and somehow, that had given me confidence-well, that and the GPS.
Before long, I was on the detour route.  There was the elderberry welcoming me back-and wishing me well.  The rolling hills made the road ahead look wrinkled.  The fields where the winter wheat had  been an emerald green, a few months ago, now was a gleaming sea of slight, golden waves.  Then, over one of the soft hills . . .there were the horses grazing by the little church.
Once, on the highway, I called Mama and Jenny to let them know that I was truly on the way home.

31b5537845f8a59f6dd755ae71b0a979

Rain or Shine


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

A suitcase is a handy thing.  Miss Claudia (Wills’ mom and my friend) gave me several and I have put them to good use-especially recently.  I had not even unpacked from my week long visit to Elizabeth City, when Brant announced that he and Sydney were coming home this weekend . . . with our Ryan!  I quickly sorted out my things and headed to Mamas’ to spend the night there. We had supper there while we all adored little Ryan.  He is a merry child and friendly . . .and so adorable.  What a happy time it was!

The next morning, Tres  and Sarah came, for it was he and Sarahs’ birthday weekend.   Sarah and Jenny have been friends for over a decade, so when Tres and Sarah started seeing one another socially . . .well, we were all thrilled . . and what a shock it was to learn that Sarah and Tres share the same birthday!  Will, Jenny and the little girls came too.  We had a big breakfast and then a delightful visit.  I was in “high cotton” having the three grandchidren all at once.   . .and my children . . .and Mama! 

 

13872967_301336053547237_2130134113970904877_n

On Monday, I left for Elizabeth City.  We had all sorts of plans.  Tres and Sarahs’  actual birthdays were on Tuesday, so there was a special supper on that day.  I am still not over the thrill, of Tres living in Elizabeth City. There were several tasks to tackle too -and there was that big laughing river, inviting us to picnic.  

It rained  every day.  “Rain or shine”, the dinners went off without a hitch, as planned.  The tasks were all completed . . .but the picnic would have to wait.  Lyla and I read in the afternoons, while Brynn napped. til at last, we finished Charlottes’ Web.  Lyla was so concerned about the fate of Wilbur, that she did not take notice of  Charlottes’ decline, and so Lyla cried for a while about the tragedy of poor Charlotte.   I did too, though I have read this book to one child, and then another, over the decades.  There is a quote in the book, that struck a chord  . . . .

You have been my friend .  That in itself, is a tremendous thing.”

Will and I had just had a conversation about friends.  We both concluded that, in youth we gather.  We gather all sorts of possessions and gadgets. . .but we also gather friends.  Sadly, many only remain for a short while.  People move, after all.  Sometimes, what was so very valuable, in the beginning, may not remain so.  Some things, even friendships, are often temporary.  Now, I find no joy, in that fact . . but it is so.  I can also honestly declare, that I still love many folks, that I no longer engage with, for I do not even know where they are.   . .but I love them, just the same.  I also have friends, that I have had for decades.  . .and that is a “tremendous thing”.  With my own youth, having faded long ago, I felt a bit melancholy about the prospect of “gathering”-and then it dawned on me . . .I have made a new friend!  Her name is Elaine.  We met through Miss Thelma, Jennys’ ninety six year old neighbor-  another friend of mine, for about five years now.  Elaine and I have been talking a lot as of lately.  At first, it was about the care of Miss Thelma.  The next thing you know, we were talking about our families, our childhood and eventually chickens!  Now, I miss Elaine, when we do not chat, for a few days. That is the way of friendship. . . and so Charlotte was right. . .and I was wrong to ever think,  my gathering days were long past.  I may not collect old china anymore, nor do I need stuff to fill a barn, but I will always have room in my life for dear ones.

2039b63056a72f68f13f4429621e5d9c

Now, the rain did not halt Lylas’ fun, for she loves her doll houses and has quite a community, composed of rabbits, pigs, a royal family and dolls.  They must all be put to bed at night and awakened the next day.  Lyla considers this serious business, that she must tend to-or else, something dreadful will surely happen.  One night. Will was up with a flashlight (for the pigs live in a house on the back porch) for Lyla to put them to bed.  She had forgotten them earlier and was highly disturbed upon her remembrance of her beloved pigs, unable to dream in their little beds.

Brynn is busy, trying to say every word she hears.  She has a soft voice with a high pitch that seems to ring like a tiny bell-and most especially, when she says “Bee”.   Her favorite thing to play with, is whatever Lyla has.  When she is told “No”, no matter how kindly, it breaks her heart.  She covers her face and wilts to the floor, slowly and sorrowfully.  If Brynn is out of sight . . she is liable to be anywhere!  On a table, in a cabinet or anywhere there is water.  It is quite likely, that in mid sentence, one is prone to stop and ask “Where is Brynn?”

5c7f2fbd360172b03ae1fc469c535e71

On Friday, I thought it was Thursday-all day until I checked out the covid 19 numbers for North Carolina, for the day.  It was almost supper time, by then.  I do not understand the passage of time.  I had arrived on Monday, been there a few days-and suddenly, it was Friday! and June loomed just days ahead! I try to make every day count, for even a single day, does become  part of the content of a life, but no matter my effort, I am always startled by the fleeting  departure of time. 

Now, the covid 19 numbers have been dramatically increasing in our state .   One county even made the national news, for the consistent doubling of daily cases.   Still,  I can not complain, thinking of the plight of others.  Folks gathered in large numbers for the Memorial Day holiday.  Where they went afterwards their events, remains to be seen.   . .but we will likely soon know.  We all remain careful.  Jenny has only been to a strawberry patch-mostly our family, can all say  that same sort of thing.   For this reason, we trust one anothers’ company.  Of course, we are in a very unique situation.  Will works from home, as I was doing, till school ended on Friday.  Tres takes his classes online and we all order everything needed.  I say this because, I do not want anyone to think that I am taking the conditions lightly.  

Now tomorrow, the publisher (WordPress) will introduce a new way of doing things.  I just barely learned how to post lessons on line.  . .and order groceries!   The elders used to say, “if its’ not one thing, its’ another!”  They were right.

 

101314522_10220353656185750_5632268705787281408_o  99439907_274317593691068_2449612916278689792_n 100626433_191498118692272_3336818306249129984_n

 

 

 

 

Strawberries and Sweet Reunions


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

What a bright, clear day came to the rabbitpatch this morning.  The young leaves on the old trees are a jade green-a color particular to the season.  Now, shade falls where sunlight used to.   A bed of watery blue irises brighten the entrance to the  drive and roses bloom everywhere.   . .but it is cold-and windy, again.  So cold that a scant frost fell last night, in the  corners of the countryside.  It as been a fortnight, since I last wrote in the diary . . .and a few things have happened.

Mothers’ Day was a quiet affair.  My sister Delores came with my niece, Dana.  Connie is a nurse, and she had to work.  After a nice meal, we gave Mama a new television. Thankfully, Tres is coming on Tuesday, to make the thing work.  Jenny said Lyla wished a mother robin “Happy Mothers’ Day”.  The robins are nesting in a bush by Lylas ‘back door.

 Until then, I am still cutting vines-this time along the edge of the young woods.  I will also cut branches that hang low enough to hinder mowing.  Here and there, I smell the wild honeysuckle, as I work. The place is full of privet too, and their fragrances implore me  to work happily.  I am in good company, they remind me. I have never been lonely in any patch of woodland.

c608d73f559e6667cf12ed05239e079c

After a big breakfast on Wednesday, Tres and Christian started on a  few chores that required muscles.  I left for Elizabeth City!!  I had completed a full three weeks of quarantine-again, and thus was cleared by Jenny to visit .  There were hardly any cars on the highway.  Oh, how different the drive looked, since my last trip. Now the yards were green and there were newly plowed fields.  This was the longest I had ever gone, without seeing Brynn and Lyla .   . .so of course,  we had a sweet reunion.

8843bbd5c86b05231644af31c1e2b344

One day, we went to pick strawberries.  It was a perfect day to go berry picking.  Lyla surprised me, and filled her little bucket!  Brynn did not surprise me, for she ate strawberries during the whole ordeal, as I suspected she would.  We came home and washed the berries.  We gave a quart to Miss Thelma, which “tickled her pink”.  Miss Thelma sits on her porch so folks can visit safely.  She is ninety six and still looks so pretty sitting in the sunlight.  She has long silvery hair and a dazzling smile.  At the drop of a hat, she will recite poetry.  

With the abundance of strawberries, I made strawberry biscuits for breakfast, one morning.  I even made a glaze for them.  The idea of strawberry biscuits, had to be a good one, I thought. I prepared the strawberries the night before and rose early to make the dough.  While they baked, I made a glaze.  The house was filled with an aroma, that made you want to get up . . but the biscuits turned out “just fair”.  Well, we all  agreed they were good enough to eat, but nobody ate two.  

7e13f344ad5a8b1ac4040762a3041091

It was picnic weather, for a few days.  Jenny, Lyla and Brynn,  ate under the beloved willow tree, one day.  I was visiting with Miss Thelma, who lives just across the street, and how pleasant it was to watch “the picnic”, we both agreed.

That same afternoon, Jenny put up a birdbath.  The sparkling water beckoned to the bird community and soon a robin, then a mockingbird and later a chattering blackbird ,  all visited to drink and bathe.  I felt quite privileged to witness birds splashing in water.  It was a cheerful moment and their antics quite amused me. It seemed like a long time since , I have taken such a liberty.  For in that moment, I wasn’t obligated to anything.  Nothing had happened, nor was expected to, in that brief span of minutes.  

I make great effort to lead a “quiet and peaceable” life.  The constant ruckus, in this world, in the most ordinary of  times –  and long before this pandemic ,  demands that I seek serenity, just to maintain some sort of balance.  Sometimes, it is just not enough to take notice,  sometimes I must stop everything and abandon all, for things like watching birds take pleasure in water.  Great thinkers have  always declared this truth, but I  found it was difficult to  completely clear my mind of any thought, when I attempted to do so.  Oddly, on this day, I seemed to fall in to this “place”.   “A little bird told me . . .” seems to ring true, now.

28d11c6b4564effbcdb4bef0ae7e1036

Meanwhile, a storm came through and “made itself at home” and  lingered for days.  Wind blew and rain fell until at last it was cold . . again.   Brynn and I took to the porch and watched it rain.  The young willow swayed and its’ long tendrils bore the brunt force with ease and grace. (A willow tree never loses its’ poise.)  The dullness of the day warranted the streetlights to light and the willow seemed lit up with twinkling lights.  Brynn clapped her little hands and laughed in delight at the spectacle of light and wind on a willow tree.

We all woke to rain on Friday.  The world outside the window was drenched and soggy.  We were all pleasantly surprised when by mid morning, the sun was shining.  Lyla donned her rain boots and we took off for at long last, a visit with the laughing river.  We were so happy to see our long last friends, the little barking dogs on their balcony.  We had not seen them in months and I worried something  unpleasant had happened-but alas! there they were on this day, scolding us for walking by.  How glad we were to know all was well with them, even if they are grouchy.

I left in the late afternoon. heading back to tend to the business of a rabbitpatch.  Brant and Sydney are coming on Saturday night and so we will share a meal at Mamas’.  I will get to hold little Ryan, for our family could care less if the “state opens up”-we are not taking any chances,  so we continue to  proceed with  great caution, . . . and I suspect when little Ryan is tucked in my arms . . .it will all have been gladly worth my while.

f395e277c91b96fe33a8c5fc6c02ae06

 

96769451_10220258545928053_2810923118749548544_o94796308_10222317242591035_5169882817441562624_o (1)

 

 

 

 

 

It was Always the Goats


18308774_1551366114888351_1429573978_n

This may be the year that I will never remember clearly.  It is May . . and it is cold!  I am sitting at my beloved “morning table”  bundled up like it is January.  The daffodils bloomed in February, school closed in March and with Daddy being sick in April-we sure did not hunt for eggs this year.  I admit-and everyone that knows me, will agree, that “time” in general is not a strength for me  – but I feel totally disoriented- and this time, it is not due to my own fault.

I was going to paint a table and chairs today-but that cold wind howling outside my window, may make me put that off.  Of course, it is early morning, as I write this and so there is still hope for a milder afternoon.  It all started with me having time to clean up my act at the rabbitpatch.  I have an old porch out back by the old field.  It is a small porch, that was once attached to my grandmothers house.  I  saved that porch, and use it like a gazebo.  It has a roof and I have sat there many times, pondering, praying and gazing at the woods and field.  I love the view, for there is not a man made thing in sight.  I thought to paint the old table and chairs today . . .if possible.  My dear friends, of several decades are coming for an open air visit ,  in the next week or so, hence the table getting painted.  I might need to just use a tablecloth!

With all of the traipsing around the rabbitpatch, I feel like I am walking down memory lanes.  There was a time when, every stable was filled and chickens roamed the territory.  Tame rabbits played in outside pens, in the sunshine.  The small pasture had a miniature horse and a small herd of miniature goats.  I did buy the chickens, but every other animal had landed here, because mostly, children had “outgrown” them.  I got the reputation of having a “rescue farm” and so when a horse trailer pulled up unannounced, I didn’t bat an eye.  I really loved that time, but when Lyla was born . . well that changed everything.  Nobody wanted to feed horses, goats, chickens, a cat, a dog and twenty two rabbits, while I was away.  My dear neighbor, Susan did try, but the goats got out a time or two, after all.  . .It was always the goats.

Miniature goats are adorable.  They are loving little things, but they do eat roses.  I had several , when a farmer called wanting me to take three more.  He lived but a few miles away, so one day Christian and I headed in his direction, to bring home the little goats.  We went in the barn and there they were in a stall with the biggest goat, that I had ever seen.  He started snorting and pawing and bleating so loudly, it was deafening.  The farmer, slight in size acted like nothing was going on, in particular, and chatted away as he gathered a rope.  He explained cheerfully, that he would hold the giant, mad goat, while Christian and I caught the little ones.  I was in a state of fear, about entering that stall. . .so was Christian.  That goat had a rack of horns, the size of Atlanta, on top of everything else.

Have you ever chased a goat?  They are quick and nimble.  They can jump and dart on a dime.  That is what we were up against-and a goat we named “the devil”, right off.  It was a harrowing ordeal and it didn’t help that the slight farmer was red in the face, gasping and yelling out,  periodically, “Hurry up!  I can’t hold him much longer!”  Somehow, Christian and I caught two of them and made it out shaken, but alive.  The farmer was unratteled and joked, that “he thought we were country folks?”  I told him he could keep the other little goat.

Kyle came home from work a few hours later and loved our new additions.  He was quite disappointed, and could not believe that we had the heart, to leave the last one.  Christian and I didn’t say a word,  for we did feel guilty about that.  The next thing, I knew, Kyle was in the truck and yelled out that he was going to get the goat.  Christian started to tell Kyle, about the conditions, but I stopped him.

An hour or so later, Kyle came back, white as  a sheet, holding the little goat.  He had faced “the devil” and won.  On top of the awful circumstances, he endured, the moment he got his hands on the little goat, the thing stiffened and toppled over, like a wooden toy!  Kyle said he thought he had killed it, but the thing sprang back to life and took off again!  The poor farmer was in pain it seemed and had resorted to cursing, but Kyle heard him say “It is a fainting goat!!”  “Fainting goats”  do not crumple, they do not wilt, they simply fall over, like a doll would.  They remain rigid and even their face looks frozen in expression.

Visitors always fell in love with the herd of little  goats and would say things like “oh, I bet they keep your ditch banks clean.”  “No,” I said, “they just eat the roses.”

91accac8926485931fee0a498bbc7c36

The goats were always liable to create a rucus.  Once, during a Sunday dinner, I heard the sound of calamity, at the front of the house.  Christian ran to the front door, to see what was happening.  Several of the little goats, were being chased by a dog and bolted past him, galloping through the house,  I do not know why, I realised what was happening, but I ran to the back door, opened it and they never lost their stride, bounding the steps and right back to their stable.  Mama and Daddy were dazed, when I asked them, if they needed anything, while I was up.  It was always the goats.

The goat stables are empty now, and the blue roses, that I painted, on them, have faded some, but believe or not, I remember the goats, fondly.   . . .but not enough, to do it all again.

6e19e3de262c1c990e145512df4a19a8

 

May, the “Sweetest Month”


19894216_1620129274678701_562366030_n

 A fair  morning, when the birds are singing and little blossoms are making promises . . .and a soft breeze sweeps the territory  . . .beckons to me  -to linger, there in it.  The yard is a bit uncivilized now, for it has not been mowed in weeks.  I love the wildness .   I may be the only one, that does, but some how the wildflowers that that spring up, seem grateful and glad, that I dare to let them bloom.    The only things, I really quarrel with are poison ivy and thorned vines. 

In the evenings, I have been spotting the first of the rabbit community, appearing.  They are a skittish lot and likely to startle me, darting from under a garden bench.  The boxer is on high alert and bravely defends me .  He has never harmed a one of them, but chases them playfully, back to the young woods, that the rabbits call “home”.  There are fireflies too. 

June has always been the time of fireflies.  Country folks take notice of such things.  These last few years , things seem to bloom and grow “out of season”.  . .and it seems the peach tree is easily fooled.  I can not blame the lovely peach tree,  nor the fireflies, for I  think, that time flies whether you are having fun or not.

 

00f4231a19d5e27e57a3e73eab378178

Now I do not measure time,  by keeping up with minutes.  I like to do things til, I am finished or do things “for a while”. A sundial would be the best clock for me.  I know, by shadows when early morning, isn’t “early” anymore. ..and they also tell me when to start supper.  Of course I spent my childhood outside and so such things are quite natural to me.  I keep track of the calendar, for the bill collectors are  reliable folks.  And now . . .all of a sudden, “they say -” it is May!

May is called “the sweetest month”.  I am fickle, but for now I declare it is so.  The iris blooms and the cape jasmine will soon follow.  The birds sing merrily in the morning and the fragrance of the  wild privet fills the air.  Clover is starting to bloom .  I love the sweet, green scent of clover.  May is a wonderful time to bring a baby home, too.  My own Tres was born in May, on a mild, bright Sunday morning.   I could not wait for the sun to shine on him and  so we stood for a while, in the sunlight of May, before we went in the house.  I always remember that in May.

13895268_299531330394376_3979181968724719654_n

The rabbitpatch  territory is almost tidy!  Every day, I do a chore or two.  The tasks range from trimming the roses in the “Quiet Garden”.  to stacking tin and yes, cutting vines, AGAIN.  I have stepped in fire ants (several times), and have scratches from thorns, everywhere.  Still, the rabbitpatch looks “tended” and I declare it may have been the geraniums, that sparked my heart, to even begin!  

I was shocked, when my sister, Delores, mentioned that “Mothers’ Day”, was this Sunday.  I should have known, for I had noticed my “Mothers’ Day” rose is loaded with blossoms, ready to unfurl, at any moment.  I have had this  “wild ” rose for almost a decade.  Peggy, a friend and neighbor, of Mama, saw it growing on a ditch bank, on her farm and sent it to me.  Every year, the bush,  I named “Miss Peggy” blooms profusely . . on Mothers’ Day.  How lovely, it looks on the old plcket fence, with its’ tendrils spilling on to the grass, splashing pink blossoms, like a joyful fountain.

5f1fcdac24514750f4bce3ded77dda0f

Hence, Delores’ announcement, we have plans to celebrate our Mama, on Sunday.  I do hope, we will “brighten her day” for the last few weeks, have been like none before them, for her.  She puts forth a gallant effort, but she has lost “the love of her life” – a love affair, that lasted sixty four years altogether.  In addition, Mama has had to face all the” business” , that comes with someone, dying . . in the “foreign”ways to her, of  this modern world – and the corona virus even complicates that.  Can you imagine, marrying the boy, that you crushed on, when you were fourteen?  You move from your parents’ home, to marry him, a few short years later-and think how the world has changed since 1958.  You are married for 62 years-and for the first time ever, you live alone.   . .well. that story, belongs to Mama, 

I think all us feel like a part of us has “gone missing”.  You feel “lacking” in some indescribable way.    I told Jenny, that it seems like our family, has been  “fractured”.  Still, though . . .I have a peace -“that does pass understanding”. 

05b4c05c946d7d27edcc2525c75f2c44

A lot of people are having a difficult time with isolation.  Let me be clear-that I miss my grandchildren .  I have enough chores here to keep me busy. I love the grocery pick up, for I can still cook.  I love to read and I am doing on line puzzles, which require a deep concentration for someone as inept as I am with puzzles.  The boxer and I spend more time together than ever  and clothes are not put in the dryer.  Supper is never rushed -and there is always something blooming on the territory.  I like solitude, in general. . .   and, I do not feel alone in the midst of trees, nor a flock of sparrows. The old field is good company and I greet the clouds as they pass over, and wonder where they have been. These habits were natural to me, as a child and have remained with me . . .I do have a rose bush named “Peggy”, after all.

It is a good thing, that I am odd, in this way, for a rural setting does not  come with sidewalks full of dog walkers and strolling couples.  If by chance, there is a siren, then folks stop what they are doing, for we are not used to commotion.

Of course, country dwellers do have large landscapes and big skies.  I can not imagine how I would fare cooped up in a third story apartment.   . .nor owning a small business, in such times.  . . nor having no one to miss seeing.  So, I can not complain.  . .most especially in the company of sparrows . . .and “Peggy” blooming her heart out.

13533208_284094701938039_7391787625339470709_n

 

95206138_3289814057710206_4456186121885319168_o 91043217_2840225512738509_969029387452153856_n95179683_3289813991043546_7152715823247785984_o

 

 

    

 

On Being “Wonderfully Made”


32857600_426716501106854_6551566258897158144_n

It seems now, that a new line of demarcation has been drawn in my life.  The new season is “since Daddy died”.  There are as many lines now in my life as there are on my weathered hands.  

I can not write falsehoods and so there have been many gloomy days.  How could it not be so?  I do try to carry on .  I have been cleaning up the footpath to the garden.  l have moved some wild daffodils and apple mint, but sometimes, I just leave the spade in the yard and walk away.  I thought to build a small fire, one day.  I had gathered a good many of the fallen branches and so I lit and re- lit  the collection til at last a cheerful flame blazed.  I do not know why I “tuned up” and cried as I watched it burn.  Since Daddy died, I do such things.

I write these things in the diary,  not because I want  sympathy, but because I want to record authentically, the many variables of the contents of a life.  There is no gain, for anyone, if I “keep this to myself”.  It would be quite unfair for anyone to think, that all of my life is spent growing flowers, doting on my grandchildren and communing with nature.  After all “being on easy street” is always temporary, though I love that street.  Oh, how much pleasure, it is for me to write about the beauty of an ordinary life.   . .but life is far from from ordinary, at times for all of us.  We all get wounded, at some point and I can  not deny that. Recovery, is one valuable skill  to have in this life.  It is one of the most valuable skills, really for I can say, with full confidence, you will need it, . . and more than once.

83b7f2f0a2c8c51d9269e9027445bf37

April has been much cooler, these last few weeks.  The wind, at long last has subsided to lively breezes.  I have spent some of my time, on the “winter clean up”.  It takes a while and the only thing that I enjoy less is cleaning the oven.  It takes blood, sweat and tears to accomplish all there is to it.  If vines and thorns were money . .well the rabbitpatch would be worth a “kings’ ransom”.  Some times, I wonder, why I bought the place . . and some times I wonder, how I will ever leave it. I really think that I will always love this patch of the earth – and yet be thankful  to sell it.  I do know one thing, I am the  better for  having known the place, but living here takes a lot of gumption.

9e899de5fa33e1687bb2056d4fac9431

Since Daddy died, I have been thinking and reflecting a lot.  Now, I am fully aware of the theory, that we tend to make the departed, in to heroes and saints,  when they die. I have done neither.  I have started writing “Daddys’ story in  the journal that I keep for everyone in the family, that has passed on.    Aunt Agnes has a chapter, as does Aunt Josie, Uncle Randy and my beloved grandmother.   I write simply, “what I remember”, which is the title, of the journal, also.

As I write, I see no value in creating frills and flash.  The truth is enough .  That is how I feel now, more than ever, in my own circumstances.  Getting older can be very liberating-and I weed out what doesn’t matter, as vigorously, as I do the weeds along the garden patch.  At last, I believe, “that I was wonderfully made.”  The desires of my youth, do not apply now.  Presentation meant so very much,in those days.  I chased after “fools’ gold” and collected fine clothes and even bought “spanking new” cars, really, for other folks to “take notice”.  Thankfully, that era did not take long, for what a waste of vitality!  Now, I look at the silver streaks in my hair, and the memories etched on my face, and do not draw back in horror.  I embrace my life, faults and all, more than ever before.

I do not blame myself, for mistakes made in youth, either.  I suspect, in fact, that the many encounters with “fools’ gold” only enhanced my ability to know and understand   the properties of the authentic,  precious and genuine thing.

Sometimes, I think “if Daddy died, than anybody can”!  Ought I not to live, knowing this is so?   It is amusing to think such a thought, and I did laugh about it, later, but just hours before Daddy passed, I could not imagine him actually dying.  Even now, I can not imagine, how to live without a “father”.   . . but every day, I do . . . and the oddest thing has happened.  Somehow, I feel as close to him as ever.  I have not “seen” him, nor heard his voice-not even dreamed of  him, but I feel him, deeply. . .as if even death does not fully separate us.  

2c1d546b9a0b320dab261dacd366f8b7

While, I  have been “up to my ears” in the work of maintaining the territory and sorting out all sorts of notions,  the grandchildren keep growing up.  Little Ryan has two teeth and is crawling-and pulls up on whatever is in reach.  Lyla plays with her doll house/hotel, for hours now. at a time.  She recently hosted a birthday party for one of her dolls-complete with decorations and cake.  The darling Brynn, is babbling and climbing on everything-no matter the steadfastness of it.  

I know one more thing too . . .being a “long distance “Honeybee” . . .does not suit me!

bd2ec5ccfb89e5482c056349235bca14

83668639_599969253911767_2360452045208551424_n94927048_646787889501278_6703980526379728896_n

 

 

Lessons Learned, Under the Stars


32857600_426716501106854_6551566258897158144_n

Mostly, everything in my life has changed.  Of course, the pandemic changed every ones’ life.  The way we do things, at least.  Daddy left  us a week ago.  I just can not get the way of time, for some times it feels like just yesterday and some times it feels like a year.  I am never quite sure what day it is.  How long has it been since I walked by the “laughing river”?   Is it still spring?  I think about all of this in the first moments, after I wake.  I am always shocked, for while I was living a beautiful ordinary life . . . the way of it, changed in a twinkling.

Grief is a force to be reckoned with.  It is complicated, understandable -weighs on you deeply and abandons you randomly, well there is just no “rhyme or reason” to the ways of grief.   It is bewildering, for  as I hang clothes on the line and admiring the beauty around me, I am  as likely to cry as to drop a clothes pin!  No one ever gets to be an expert on grief.  , , and “practice does not make perfect,” where it is concerned, . . .for grief is no stranger to me. Sometimes, when I am missing Daddy, I will think of my husband, my grandmothers, Aunt Josie and Aunt Agnes, Uncle Randy and my dog, Gage!  The thing washes over me til, I can not sort  it all out.

Yesterday, my sisters and I met at Mamas’ to write thank you notes – and poor Connie worked more on “business”.  Mama is doing as well as anyone could be expected.  I told Connie, that I sure hoped we gathered “just for lunch soon”, not because of the tasks, but just to share something besides sorrow, even if briefly.   

Now, when I quit thinking about myself, I realise  that much the world is grieving, the same as me.  Woe is widespread and beyond my “wildest imagination”.  There is fear and now, anger.  What a concoction of emotions have been stirred up.  Now, my heart breaks, for the many whose livelihood has been threatened and for the ones whose jobs demands that they just “carry on” despite the circumstances.  People like cashiers, truck drivers, medical staff and many, many others. They are all warriors, in a sense.   I confess, that I have not studied much of any thing in the last few weeks, but I have seen where folks are protesting these current mandates.  I will not cheer them on, though they have the right to do so. 

In my small world, I know that some folks do not practice social distancing, for they do not see the need or they are rebelling, for the sake of it.  The worse thing, is that I see a lack of respect for the ones (like me) that   are practicing “at full hilt”.  I do not pretend, to understand this virus.   . .but as I told my cousin, Sheila . .”if someone tells me, there may be a bear in the woods -and I hear growling . . .I am not going in the woods.”  and I do not need to be told to stay out. Besides, what if our lack of compliance, made someone else sick? Shouldn’t we consider that?  This is not the time to “throw caution to the wind.”

5c7f2fbd360172b03ae1fc469c535e71

Some time, in the midst of everything, I had a birthday.  I kept forgetting it, and every time someone  mentioned it, some task would present itself and distract me, from any  further thought of it.  One night, we sat around making a list of things to include on my next grocery order.  Mama needed tin foil  and we had borrowed something from a neighbor, that needed to be replaced.  I am loving “picking up groceries” I announced, and  joked that I had tried to order geraniums, but the store did not honor my request. 

Much to my surprise, Delores brought me a half dozen pink geraniums, when we met at Mamas’ to write those “thank you” notes.  What a lovely surprise . .  .what a sweet moment.  Today, I planted them and the rabbtpatch looked happy .  

36f96be6bc953b7d1972f110a3426696

The geraniums seemed to inspire me and so one thing led to another.  I worked in the “Quiet Garden”  for a while and then picked up branches that have come unfastened in the April wind.  At long last, we burned the garden.  Burning the garden, is a big event at the rabbitpatch.  Besides all that has transpired  recently, April has been windy and so we burned “late” this year.

Though there is much more to be done, progress was made and in the end, the rabbitpatch looked less shabby, than it has in months.  When the first stars were out, I took a walk around the territory. 

I thought the beauty of the place, no matter how neglected, was  still as charming as any place, I have ever seen.  I also knew all over again, that the sprawling lawn, was just too much for an old lady.   . .especially one with grand children.  The old farm house had outgrown me, a few years back too. 

Not so very long ago, it seemed the place was as good as sold.  I was shocked when the deal fell apart, just days before finalization.  I was beyond mere disappointment.  I never got angry, for I had prayed for many seasons and I knew better than to argue with God, for I have  never won a battle with Him.  Now, as I walked under the silver, shining heavens, in the beloved silence of the countryside, I was grateful for this past year at the rabbitpatch.  I was not stranded, after all, but placed lovingly in the right place at the right time.  I felt very protected -really from my own self.  My plan would have deprived me of the “holy” season that loomed ahead.  

Now, I still plan to “sell the farm”.   . .but I will bear in mind, that human “plans” are often shallow and pale in comparison, to what God knows we need.  In my case, maybe I was hasty . . .certainly, I was void of understanding.  I realised, my own dream was not harmless, as I had thought.  . . and had I dared try to rush God? AGAIN?  Oh, what lessons I was learning under the stars!

Really, life is mysterious and full of complexity.  There are few dependable things.  By now, you would think the whole world would know this .  I know very little, but I do know that somehow, pain and beauty can exist in the same moments. “Change” is usually another opportunity -and I ought not to dread it, as I  am in the habit of doing. God always answers prayers -He just doesn’t always say “yes”.   . .and “leaning on you own understanding” is an awful practice.  

13524573_282146295466213_7601971631599773077_n

 

 

In Memory of My Father


12832497_992557854168260_1720485240687122452_n

The death of a good father may be one of the hardest things, a human has to endure.  I do not know now, how the sorrow will ever be tolerable, but I suppose it will.  I suppose, one day, I will not cry .  I have never buried a parent.  All I know, for now is that this a different kind of grief.

The service was on Thursday.  Only a limited number of people could attend, due to the pandemic.  A handful of friends gathered, but were asked to stay in their car.  It was already a sorrowful time, but to have to work within the  current mandates, was taxing. Not even our immediate family could gather to comfort one another.   Good neighbors and beloved friends dropped dishes on the porch, and could not be invited in, but instead thanked “through the door.” 

I have never cared about flowers, as I would rather someone spend that money on food for the hungry . . .and with the florists, all closed, in our small town, we couldn’t have bought flowers our selves.   When we arrived, for the service, there was a single spray of flowers, from our cousin, Chuck, who had used an out of town florist.  A it turns out, flowers do matter to me.  Those flowers were like the nights, when there is a single star in the sky.   

Since Daddy was a veteran, he had asked for a military service not because he wanted the recognition . . he wanted Mama to have a flag.  When she was presented a flag, I couldn’t help but think, that this was his final gift to Mama. 

The day after the funeral, was as sad as any other one before it.  There was so much work to be done, however, that we were just too busy to dwell for any length of time, on our grief.  Connie took care of the business that comes with  death, an awful task, I think. Delores and I packaged food, which meant cleaning out cabinets and refrigerators and freezers.  I remain grateful and humbled by the way of good people. for the one thing that we did not have to fret over, was food.  We hung clothes on the line together, like we did as children.  That was a sweet moment.

We all took another visit to the grave together and carried flowers from the yard.  I thought to sprinkle some soil from home.  It was what we could do.

We all returned to our homes afterwards -at Mamas’ insistence.  Mama is exhausted, heartbroken and heartsick -all at once.  She had a crush on daddy at the tender age of fourteen . . .and so she married him, just a few short years later.  She still lives on the a parcel of the farm, that she grew up on.  They would have been married 62 years in June, yet in Daddys’ last days, she laid beside him, her head on his shoulder, and looked like a young girl in love. I knew I was looking at a love story-an incredible story that had weathered hardships, survived calamities and stood together in victory, at last.  They won their race.

Now, that the “dust has settled”, I am back at the rabbitpatch, where the roses are in full bloom -and every floor needs scrubbing.  I thought as I pulled grass along the garden path and more when I hung out the clothes on the line.  I just missed every day, before this one.  I missed the “Sunday dinners”  and the day I played the piano,for Daddy, while an entire entourage gathered in my kitchen for a surprise birthday party, I missed Christian and I playing Hank Williams songs because Daddy loved Hank Williams.  The soil swallowed my tears and the wind blew my sadness, til there was less of it.  I even half heartedly, thanked the roses before I came in.

Grief is as natural as joy and I reminded myself of that as I went along with my chores.  Grief may be as good a lesson as any  I know of, though it may also be the hardest to bear, for I thought of the beautiful legacy Daddy left, and that legacy was created by the substance of his life.  If there is ever a time  for me to reflect on  the contents of my time, on this earth  .  . it is now.  I must consider, my priorites and make sure they are practiced.  What will my children see as my legacy, I wondered.  Is my “truth” beautiful?  I started a mental list of things to improve upon-and so grief is a lesson, after all.

Now, my dad left this planet, but his story will remain, for I will  tell it to his great grand children.  They deserve to know their heritage was forged by a great -great grandmother who raised  children, that grew into noble adults.  Daddys’  brother, Uncle Randy was a gentle  soul.  He was so kind to me.   . .well, I have never met a Warren”  that I didn’t love right off.  . .and since Uncle Randy has also passed, Daddy is in especially good company. 

So far, not a one of the Warrens, “have taken a single thing” with them.  We always say that, but I fear, we do not always really act like we understand it.  My dear and kindred friend ,  Scott of Pazlo, really says it best, when he refers to our earthly  castles as  mere “sand castles”. 

We are going to work all of our life, at something.  We will accomplish what we work for and we ought to be aware of that.  . . another thing to remember.

   “Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints”