It Happened on Bonnet Street


Snow on the little rabbitpatch was a lovely sight to behold.  The cottages on the Bonnet Street , grand or not, all had lights shining from their windows, making the place  charming and cozy.  There wasn’t a bit of movement and so silence filled the air.  Kyle and Christian went out with the boxer and then the world wasn’t as quiet.  I made snow lanterns while the boxer leaped about.  The boys had a wild snowball fight. We must be the only children on the block, for not another soul was in sight.  We came into a house full of the smell of fresh baked bread.  That was a nice day. 
That night the powdery snow became ice.  We did not lose power, thankfully.  Jenny told me the adventures they had with snow.  The girls could not get enough of it and were exhausted by evening.  Brant has to work in such conditions, but Sydney and her parents made sure that Ryan enjoyed the day.  The pictures they sent proved it was a memorable event, for all of them.  They built a snow family, with a cat-and when Brant arrived, Ryan had sled rides.  It is safe to say, that not a single one of the grandchildren went lacking in joy, this day! 
I do not work on Mondays, and schools were closed.  I have a lot of reading to do for my job and a bit of paperwork. There are also a few little projects to do in the house.  An extra good supper is planned, for I have the extra time.   
My youth was full of bigshot dreams.  Life winnowed them out, until at last, I ended up right where I ought to be.  I wouldn’t have guessed how much pleasure could be derived from just tending the house and cooking for my loved ones.  I never thought big enough to understand the joy of growing flowers or having pets or writing about such things.   No one ever says, ‘I want to be a grandmother, when I grow up”, yet it is one of the best things that could ever happen to us. 
Today I sit in another drafty, very old house as content as I can be.   . . and thinking about what to cook for supper.  It does not take “fame and fortune” to live happily, as it turns out.   
By Wednesday, only remnants of snow, in shady nooks, remained.  There was sunshine-clear and brightly shining -but it has been cold ever since the grand event. 
Believe it or not, another winter storm  is in the forecast for the coming weekend.  There is a chance of snow again.  Snow or not, it will be brutally cold.  Kyle asked if I would make crepes again, at the prospect of snow. 
Thursday, was a busy day.  I left school, later than usual,  then I had several tasks to accomplish.  I felt unusually tired . . but it was the headache that stopped me altogether.  I do not suffer with headaches . . not even occasionally.  It was the worst headache, that I could have imagined.  My eyes hurt, so that I could not hold them open.  My ears hurt, my throat hurt- so I went to bed before seven! The next morning, which was Friday, I woke with body aches and weakness.  The headache was better.  A test confirmed my suspicions  . . I had covid.  With the headache reduced to just an awful memory  now, I just feel like I have a cold-or a mild flu. 
As I was remembering my elders, that morning, I thought first of Aunt Josie, for it was her birthday.   Aunt Josie, my moms’ sister, had married quite young.  She married an especially handsome man who was in the army and off she went so far away, from everything she knew.  Aunt Josie was either very brave or  madly in love (or both)  to  go halfway across the country-away from the farm-away from her family.   Back then, folks did not travel as they do now.  Both Kansas and Texas seemed like foreign soil, when I was very young. 
Maybe, I was four or five, when Aunt Josie came back to the farm.  By then, she had two little sons.  There had been so much cleaning and scrubbing going on, that I was quite certain these people were quite special . . and they were.  I still remember meeting them for the first time in Pop and Grandmas’ living room.  I do not remember when, but my cousins, Chuck and Chris became more like brothers to me than cousins.   They remain that way, to this day.
Aunt Josie was a cheerful aunt with a beautiful smile and the handsome uncle Charlie, had a distinct laugh.. . and he laughed a lot.  Aunt Josie had learned some new dishes, that were quite unfamiliar to us country folks.  She made goulash and spaghetti!  In the summer evenings the adults would play cards and listen to Hank Williams, while we  untamed kids ran wild as rabbits.  . .left to our own devices.   
Aunt Josie and I were close, to her last day . . and I still miss her. 
 The wind was blowing with a vengeance, when I woke today.  It was eight degrees and there was but a slight dusting of snow was on the rooftops. 
I wasn’t going to make snow lanterns anyway. 

Happy Birthday Jenny . . .and Snow on Bonnet Street!


I was waiting for snow, the last time I wrote . . . I still am!  There were a few snow showers, last weekend, certainly nothing to brag about.  Now, a winter storm is forecasted this weekend.  Everything here is closed.  We are all waiting for snow and ice.  Snow is welcome -but ice with all of its’ beauty is known to break old trees and hinder power.  We are as unequipped as ever, in the south and so we all stay home.  Only those who must, go out.  Our emergency heroes, first responders, linemen and other such noble servants, brave these unfamiliar elements so the rest of us are safe and warm. 
When the forecast first hinted at inclement weather, I turned my thoughts to my usual agenda for such occasions-food and books and writing-maybe an old movie or two.  We are supposed to have this thing upon us for several days.  I made haste to get to the grocery store, as I knew full well, pickings would soon be slim.  The stores are never at full capacity these days, storm or not.  I did find what I needed to make crepes and pizza.  Most things needed were already in stock in the little house on Bonnet Street, for I am likely to make anything, anytime. 
Jenny had a birthday on Thursday.  I used to call her “my little snowbird”, for it was likely to snow on her birthday, the few years that we get snow.  Today is further proof of that.
What a treasure, my only daughter is.  She was born with the heart of a mother-and a quick mind.  These traits show up now, for she takes care of all of us.  Jenny pays keen attention to our needs-and acts on it.  If I need advice, I go to Jenny, for she has an understanding of my heart, second only to God, I think.  I believe her brothers would say the same thing. 
Now, Jenny is a mother-of two little girls.  She is a sensible and loving mother. The “extra mile” does not intimidate our Jenny and so she knows it by heart.  Of all the things that a daughter can accomplish, being a good mother “takes the cake” to me.  What could matter more, after all?   
I went over the day of her birth, all day  yesterday.  How clearly I remember the details.  Some memories are recalled with precision, even after decades.  I had another name picked out for the baby-two in fact for in those days, we did not know if the baby would be a boy or a girl. You had to be prepared for both.  The name that I  had chosen, for a little girl, was only loved by me.  Her father accepted it, but I didn’t think he was so fond of it, either.  When I looked at this bundle of wonder I abandoned my first choice.  I decided that she looked like a “Jenny” and so she was named in that way.   I remember rocking her, by the woodstove, those first days home and neighbors coming in, full of excitement.   . .to see our Jenny.  Now, here I sit waiting for snow, just as I did on her first birthday, all those moons ago. 
While I waited, a pot of soup simmered. I was constantly looking out the window to see if snow was falling from that silver sky.  It was about thirty degrees,  not counting the wind chill.  I have only seen snow falling  a very few times, in my life, for it usually falls at night, here-if at all. 
When the silver sky, grayed, sleet started.  It made a tinging sound on the tin roof.  We ate soup and then had a dessert of pancakes with fried apples and caramel sauce and whipped cream.    I went to bed soon after . . .still waiting for snow.  Kyle woke me at some odd early hour to say, it was at last snowing. 
I got up before dawn to a beautiful winter scene.  I think we had about four icy inches.  My first thought was of the little grandchildren.  Lyla has been wishing for snow for two years.  Brynn does not remember snow, as she is just three.  Ryan saw snow falling last weekend, but has never walked in it or really touched it!  I am sure though, that this morning, all are building a snowman and maybe Ryan-a snow fort-knowing Brant. 
I am not sure how icy the snow is, for I have been drinking coffee by a window.  While, I was gazing out at Bonnet street in winter, a little bird flew up to say good morning.  I had never seen his kind.  He was gray on the back with a bright yellow stripe on either side of his breast.  We stared at one another in a friendly way for a few moments and then he flew off, as if he had an appointment.  Straight away, I sought to identify the lovely creature.  He was a Myrtle warbler, it turns out, and he is welcomed back anytime.   
Now today, the crepes are on the menu-and Kyle wants brownies.  Christian chose the supper.  Until further notice, I will be reading or making snow lanterns, writing or in the kitchen  . . .and every time I glance out the window, I will keep my pealed on the silent beauty of a snowfall . . .and for my new feathered friend.  
                    

Winter is a Time to Remember


The first light this morning was a pale golden quiet color.  How softly the sun proclaimed the day . . like it was telling a secret, in a whisper.   . . meant only for the early birds.
  I spent the new year with my three oldest children-and the grandchildren.  The weather was unseasonably warm.  We exchanged gifts right off and then had all sorts of fancy snacks.  It reminded me of “old Christmas”, though it was too early for that.  The whole time we were together seemed like a constant celebration and I think we were all sorry when it ended.  Cold, windy weather was coming and a slight chance of snow, with it.  In the south, even a “slight chance”  causes a commotion. 
I left early on Monday, in thunder and lightening, wind and rain . . .and it was cold!  That afternoon, snow fell on the rabbitpatch, but not a single flake stuck.  I spent time just watching it fall and paid no attention to dust and dishes. 
 I have mentioned before, that I do not make New Year resolutions, for first, I can not keep them .   . .most especially if the resolution requires some rigid routine or restrictions of any sort.  I am weary of them by February-and disappointed in my self.  I do self reflect and revaluate and clearly define my priorities,  regularly. Once, I am convinced of something, I am likely to be successful . . .but it could happen on a Tuesday in May!  Prompts seem to spring up , when I am least expecting them!  I became a vegetarian, one year in October and  I did a massive decluttering, several  years back, in the hot month of July- I stuck to those things. 
Oddly, though, just before Thanksgiving, this past year, a “prompt” popped up “out of  the blue”  and another one, this week.  One, is another way to simplify-and the other adds more enrichment in my life.  I value authenticity and both ideas support that, so now I am once again pondering “lofty notions”, while I peel  potatoes. 
I finally took down the Christmas decorations.  I always wait for “old Christmas” to do so.  “Old Christmas” helps me admit that Christmas is really over and it is always a very spiritual thing for me.  There are less distractions, for one and I find that I really can focus more on the Gift, the grandest of all, bestowed on this world.  I take it personally.  While I disassemble the tree and pack away the wreaths, I  feel melancholy and grateful, all at once. 
 Now winter seems to have finally settled in, in the little coastal town, that I now abide.  Skies are often pewter and the trees hold no secrets.  I love their bare branches and want to be like them, for their beauty changes , but is constant, in all forms. Jade leaves in spring, scarlet in fall, blossoms, fruit or  nuts , resting or not . . . I love trees.  In winter, their shadows fall in lacy patterns  and I have yet to see two tapestries alike.
Winter is the time to make creamy soups and stews.  It is a time to make bread and roast potatoes.  . .or make a good pot of beans   The smell of a kitchen in winter is cozy and warm.  It is a happy time, when the family walks in to such a kitchen . I remember well how good it was to come home from school to Mama frying chicken.  Daddy would pull up from work and every day we celebrated, when all were safely in. Those were “golden” days. 
I am often accused of being old fashion-and with good reason.  People my age certainly know about progression, for we have lived through it and have  seen the results.  Some of our new  methods are wonderful . . .and some are not.  It is just that simple.  As the world  rushes on, I will pause, as needed.  I will daydream by still waters and grow hyacinths and read poetry and linger with wild things in wild places . . .so maybe I am old fashion, after all. 
The time of winter is a time to remember what things matter. The heart may be fickle at times . . . but not always.  Somehow, regardless of intellect, culture or worldly status . . or whether or not we are listening- we know our truth, for it rings out like a church bell. . . and most especially in the quiet of winter. 
Now snow is in the forecast again and what an uproar   that causes, amongst the southerners  ! Southerners either love it or they don’t.  It is only a “chance”, but those of us who love it are clinging to it.  No one has to shovel out their drive way, for the place shuts up altogether.  If we get any snow at all, it is gone quickly, so I am not sure what all there isn’t to love. 
 In light of  even the possibility, I am already plotting.  What will I read, what will I cook and most of all, what will I ponder?       .  
 

 

 

Just Before Christmas, at the Little Rabbitpatch


Just now, the day is dimly lit and so quiet.  The boxer and the soft gray cat have had their breakfast.  Christian is leaving for work . . .and the Christmas lights are shining brightly. 
Morning is one of my favorite times.  Oh!  What lofty notions come to me in the morning.  I start out contemplative and reflective.  I think of my loved ones-even those long passed.  In this way,  I remember them.  I suppose this is a kind of tribute.  The gifts they gave me, have lingered all of my life, after all. . . .  and then, suddenly, I am planning tasks . . and supper! 
The little rabbitpatch is now, decked out for Christmas.  There are little fairy lights on boughs of cedar at both entrances, several wreaths and solar lanterns hanging in unlikely places.  The cowbells that adorn the crepe myrtle, are tied with long ribbons and look as merry as anything.  The little house on Bonnet Street, is not the only place full of Christmas spirit-so is Mamas’ house. 
My sisters and I met there on Monday .  We” decked the halls”-and put up the tree.  We had a good meal and Mama made Delores, her favorite cake for an early birthday celebration.  Niece Hayley is now engaged! so we threw out some wedding ideas for sister Connie . . and we planned a birthday trip for Mama in February! It was  lovely time, altogether. 
Back at the little rabbitpatch, Christmas music wafts through the house softly-and almost constantly.  I like the old carols best.  There is such an over abundance of distractions from the holiness of  Christmas, so I take what measures  I can, to avoid the worldly clutter.  . . and there is so very much clutter. 
 I have always tried to stay focused on the spiritual meaning of the holiday, but this year especially, I have ramped up my intentions.  Truthfully, I regret having not celebrated with any gumption, the past two years.  Grief, busyness and loss , now seem like lame excuses to dismiss such a holy time. This year, I will do better. 
I went to Elizabeth City, this past weekend.  How good to see “the littlest women” in the family.   
Brynn was sick with an awful something, about the whole time.  Oh, how tenderly she was cared for.  Jenny had pineapple juice, chicken broth and honey on hand at all times. Lyla brought water and a soft Christmas blanket, whenever Brynn whimpered. 
One day, Lyla and I took Aunt J, some special treats.  On the way back, we took the long way, to see Christmas lights. I hope we can do that again before the holiday season ends.   When we got home, Lyla made a “wish on a star”-it was really Venus and I told her, but she decided to take a chance and wish anyway.  I did too. . . .just in case.  She did not wish for a toy . . .and neither did I.  To me, that moment was a bright, silver one. 
On Monday, Brynn still had the hacking cough, but her eyes were bright and her little cheeks had a rosy glow.  Jenny kept Brynn home because of that cough.  I left on Tuesday, for I had to work on Wednesday. 
Saturday was a happy day.  Tres and Sarah are spending Christmas in Florida with Sarahs’ family.  Sarahs’ parents are so excited.  Sarahs’ mom has already sent pictures of some mighty fancy baked goods.  I could just feel her joyful excitement as I saw the pictures.  In light of this trip, I hosted my first occasion at the new rabbitpatch.  We had a brunch.  Tres, Sarah, Mama and Kyle came- and Christian came after work.  I finally used my Christmas China and how lovely the table looked!  It was a simple, but extra special way to spend the day.
Another thing . . .and if folks laugh as they read this, I will not take offense.  The first rabbitpatch, is under contract-again. If I sound less than enthusiastic it is only because, I am.  I certainly hope to sell it . .and maybe, the third time is a charm after all.    
Just now, I am going through the motions, as if it really will transpire, however, I am well versed in how quickly things can change, in general.  With that in mind, I have developed the awful art of second guessing everything.  It is tiring and since truthfully, there is really no certainty to anything under the sun, it is a fruitless practice.  I am questioning my lofty notions, that I have dwelled on for a few years now . . or are they sensible ideas?  Somedays, I feel overly cautious, on how to proceed- certain that calamity is just around the bend-other times, I feel like following my heart (or my gut) certain that I am on my course.  
Now, everything, that has ever knocked the wind out of me . . . I never saw coming.  The things that robbed me of appetite and sleep . . .well none of them ever happened. 
When peace seems as fleeting as a flock of sparrows, I remind myself of that.  Surely, I am one of Gods’ most fickle servants!   
While I was pleading-or whining, in my prayers, I asked God outright to let me know SOMETHING!  In about three minutes, a small rabbit hopped down the sidewalk and right in the “plum House” yard! 
It was the first time that I had seen a rabbit since, I left Farm Life. I haven’t a clue, what to make of it.  . .if anything . . but it was something.  It seems.  looking back, that many times, my answers are veiled and do not come to light til later on.   Time will tell, as it always does.      
 

 

The Little House on Bonnet Street


We are almost settled at the little house on Bonnet Street.  Of course, now it is the holiday season, and even the most established routines are altered in the season. The only way a place starts to feel like home, is  to live in it a while.  It has to rain, and likewise, the sun has to shine til you know where light and shadow falls  and the kitchen has to smell like supper cooking.  Like every other genuine treasure in life, it takes time.  One day you suddenly realise  . . . you are home.  The little house on the corner is starting to feel like home. 
Mama and I went to see sister Connie the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  She was cooking supper for about fifteen people and with ease, she moved from one pot to another without a trace of worry.  Connie is a sensible person and her feathers are not easily ruffled.  She is steadfast and we are all blessed to call her our own.  It was a lovely time on that perfect late autumn day. 
It was a very short work week, with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.  I spent Wednesday night at Mamas’ to prepare for the gathering on Thursday.  We spent most of the day in kitchen.  Mama cooked sweet potatoes and pies.  I spent a good deal of time on collards.  I made enough biscuits for the biscuit stuffing-and our supper.  I also rummaged through boxes looking for table cloths.  We were both tired that evening and I went to bed, determined to rise early to peel apples! 
All of our efforts paid off, for when the kids arrived, we only had to cream the potatoes and make the gravy.  It was a brisk and bright day and a lot of us ate outside.  “Baby brother cousin”, Ryan and his “sister cousins”  ran around the yard. (This is how they refer to one another)  What a precious sight to behold-and especially while you are eating pie! 
No one left empty handed that day.  Instead we packaged pie, caramel apple dumplings, collards and sister Delores’ broccoli  casserole, fresh eggs and bread from Connie  . . until the kitchen looked like we had never been there! 
The next day, I decorated for Christmas.  I have always waited til December to do so, but I have not decorated for two years.  Daddy was sick one year-then Julie died last year . . .and there was also all those covid restrictions.  Several of my neighbors had decorated before Thanksgiving and that had stirred me to follow suit.  I loved  the cheerful lights and how happy they all were as they toiled.  I laughed at the celebrations when an old strand of lights worked.  Now this little rabbitpatch is adorned with twinkling lights and ribbons.  I cut cedar from a tree in the yard and made several little arrangements.  I like an almost wild and natural look.  I will use apples and oranges in the house- and candles and soft carols to fill the air.  The tree is not up, but I will work on that, shortly.  First, I must make a trip to retrieve it. 
One afternoon, Brant, Jenny and their families stopped by, for they had not seen the house, except for pictures.  Tres and Sarah came too.  They had helped me move and even they were surprised with the  now, cozy little cottage .  We listened to old Christmas songs-which are our favorite ones, ate cookies that Sydney made and watched the most darling little ones play.  That was a happy time for me. 
I have discovered more things about myself as of recently. I thought that I liked simplicity . . .but I embrace it now, more than ever.   In fact, I am more determined than ever to live as simply as I can.  From food to activities-from possessions to products . . .I am on a mission. 
I like  living in a smaller house. It suits me at this particular season of life.  It makes sense financially, certainly, but there is a lot less housekeeping too.  Also, a big house with vacant rooms feels different-lonelier and hollow, at times. 
I do like old houses.  I just can not convince myself, otherwise.  Of course, new windows in an old house would be even better. . .and more electrical outlets.  I am not swayed so easily by modern conveniences but, I like running water and heat .  I also like to work . “Quick  and easy” tastes just like it sounds.  I derive a sort of satisfaction when I work at something-even if I make mistakes!  Just yesterday,  I worked on an arrangement of cedar for quite a while.  I made a garland with a lantern in the middle of it. When I placed it on the table,  I tried to like it . . and at first, I almost did.  I left it to work on a wreath.  When I came back, I couldn’t deny it.  The thing had gone from “bad to worse”.  I took it apart and what a mess that was.  Still, I had enjoyed working on it.  Work makes me think, whether or not,  I am creating something of beauty or fixing something or cleaning.   It all boils down to    no one enjoys a fire more than the one who gathered the wood, I think. 
I love hearing the church bells ring out the hour.  I love bells and chimes . . not whistles -Sometimes though, I hear the train whistle late at night.  That kind of whistle, I do like.  I do not understand how that whistle can sound sorrowful and joyful, at the same time! 
There is so much to love wherever you go . . but I must declare that I miss the countryside.  I miss the big sky and the sweet air.  There, in the country, are a million stars and the  brightest moons for the heavens own every bit of sky. Silvery , misty fields in the evenings and  mornings are golden when you can see the sun rising   There are  just so many shades of light.  Maybe, I will always favor this landscape, but there truly is so much  to love wherever you go.  I would do well to dwell on this truth . 
For now, I live on a quiet street in a friendly neighborhood and everything is just five minutes away.  Old trees line the streets and the moon rises in a window in the sky just above this rabbitpatch.  Traffic is very light and not constant  . . .and when those church bells ring . . . .well, I just love everything about the little house on Bonnet Street!

 

Before Such Things Happened


Lo and behold!  I am writing this entry from the little rabbitpatch on Bonnet Street! Maybe next time, I will even have a picture of my small town dwelling, to prove it.  The internet was connected yesterday and it even rained this morning -my favorite kind of morning to write.  What used to be so familiar, now seems like a rare and precious gem, to me.  We also now have natural gas -which means that we have heat and can cook on a stove.   During the time, I waited for such things, a lot happened.  First, the rental house got put in order.  I met several neighbors, all delightful people.  One neighbor, in particular resulted in a “reunion”! 
 Miss Linda was friendly and helpful as soon as she saw me working feverishly to bring beauty and honor to the long neglected property.  We chatted a little briefly most days.  One day, we took the time to have a real conversation.  I asked her where she was from and as her story unfolded, certain names and circumstances lept out at me til at last, I blurted out “What is your last name?”  When she told me, tears sprang to my eyes and again I shouted out, “Do you know who I am!?”   As it turns out, we were neighbors, decades ago, when my children were little!  I used to weave baskets for a shop she had and she was the one that gave my Jenny, the doll that Jenny always loved best, the  endearing, “Lady Jane”- (which was a black rabbit in a calico dress).  We both laughed and cried all at once.  Thirty years had passed, but on that day, it seemed like it was only a short, while ago that we were friends and also neighbors. 
Miss Linda has a food station in her yard, for anyone that needs to use it.  Of course, I am glad for that and eager to help out.  I have already heard of two cases that are just heartbreaking.  Neither person had created the circumstances they are now in.  Many folks dismiss the homeless believing always, that the poor are responsible for their destiny.  I have heard all of the arguments that some folks prefer to live roaming about, or that they are dishonest  and  simply take advantage of tender hearted fools.  Let me be very clear . . .I don’t care why or how someone ended up needing food.  I do not care if someone lies about their needs.  That is not my business.  My business is my response.   I have never been a good judge and have been as wrong as can be, often, besides.  Therefore, the little food station keeps me humble and what joy it is to see, a small child grab something and run excitedly to show an elderly driver, what they found.  If just one person,  out of a hundred is helped . . to me that is enough.
I read a lot during “the time before such things”  .  I fell in to a routine of my job, then household tasks and supper and finally reading til my bedtime. Reading from a screen just does not have the same effect as reading from a book, for me.  I was careful to select titles that were well written, with language chosen carefully-and artfully. I realised early on just how much interruptions of concentration have become so very normal and certainly had impacted my own ability to just think long and hard about something.  Reading at night was like a long and tranquil meditation.  Oh, I must be kind to myself and continue this practice! 
 In some way, I had another reunion with an old friend. 
In the early mornings, I spend time on the porch -and again in the twilight time.  In town, folks walk their dogs-something never seen in the rural community, that I came from. The boxer watches with me.  He knows how to walk on a leash, for we trained him when he was young to do so, just in case.  He does not pull or snatch a bit and sits automatically, if we stop walking.  It is obvious, that I take pride in that loyal dog.  Folks being pulled and twisted by their dog , often admire his stellar manners . . they should meet the cat. 
At least “Christopher Robin”  is still accounted for and even joins me on the porch, but he has been naughty, since the move to town and one day I threw an outright fit with him.  The noble boxer, can barely handle a stern look, but the cat couldn’t care less about a scolding or my grim expressions, and is liable to ask for cream in the midst  of our argument!   It is a wonder to me, that we all adore him and are always there to serve him. 
 I went to Raleigh over the weekend.  Ryan and I took a walk on a golden day under an azure sky. The trees were at the peak of their glory, and how lovely it was, to see. There was enough wind to rattle the trees and loosen their colorful leaves.  We watched the dancing leaves.  Ryan said “They can fly!” Cirrus clouds dotted the  top of our world, that day.  That is when  Ryan said “the clouds are broken!”  He remains a mild natured child and so bright, too.  He is a very small little cherub and easy to dote on.
Now, on the home front, the old farmhouse has a steady flow of prospective buyers.  I do not worry myself about it, as I did.  There have been too many things to worry about the past two years and frankly, worry is tiresome and does not bear fruit, that I want to eat.  For all I know, I might be moving back in months . . .or maybe not.  Somehow, some way, I have become use to this state of quandary.  I do not have a magic wand or a “kings’ ransom” or a crystal ball, therefore it may seem that I am “empty handed” . . . but I know different.  I feel different about life in general and it is  because of the past two years. . .Dare I say I have  a new sense of   “peace”?  And,  isn’t that the last thing you would expect? 
Me too

When the Creek Rises . . Part III


There is a lot more to moving, than packing and unpacking more boxes, than “the law should allow”.  There is the physical cleaning and scrubbing and then finding places for necessities and beloved items. . .like a purse that belonged your grandmother and books  . . . and a small vase your nephew made for you decades ago.  There is that sort of work . . and then there is the business. 
We are still waiting on internet service, which disturbs local places that need to send an email confirming every other thing.  Thankfully, my friendly landlord left the lights on but I have yet to order the natural gas, for heating and cooking.  We have been using a crock pot and an electric skillet, thus far.  We needed a sofa.  The previous ones were in awful shape, and when one lost a leg, that was my breaking point.  So I ordered a sofa.  It sounds so simple.  What happened was I ended up with the wrong sofa! 
What an expensive mistake-and so untimely.  The company was anxious to make amends, but what a tricky situation -if there is no email to receive mailing labels.  I found a neighbor that took the emails for me and even attached the labels , for of course, I wasn’t home. I had left for a weekend with Brant, Ryan and Sydney.  I had not seen Ryan since his birthday party in September, when all seemed right in my world.  The cursed sofa delayed my trip and so I arrived on Saturday. 
On Sunday, I woke to a full blown case of poison oak.  Sydney and Brant had creams, but by Monday, my face and neck had swollen and I was feeling sick.  I went back to bed but Sydney made me an appointment at the local urgent care.  She was determined and so I went.  Miraculously, my blood pressure was perfect, but it was a bad case of poison oak and so I was prescribed oral medication and all sorts of ointments.  The doctor asked how and when I encountered the hateful vine.  I told her that I had worked in an uncivilized hedge row on Wednesday-but I had also climbed a tree that week.  I was rescuing that old tree , but  I assured the doctor, that I was concluding that mission. 
By the next morning, I was feeling better. I called Christian to find out the sofa was still on the porch . . .
In the midst of all this moving, The gray cat, Christopher Robin, decided to tale a holiday.  He slipped out of the door one evening and disappeared!  That was an awful time.  We looked for that cat every day.  He had only been at the little house a few days and I doubted he knew the way home. I met several neighbors  while out looking and discovered the house I live in, is called the “Plum House”.  I suppose the family that built the place may have been the Plum family . .or was the name given because of the unusual color?  Either is likely.  Eventually, Christopher Robin came back.  He ate three bowls of food and went to sleep! 
Now, none of these events -the sofa, moving to a small town, the missing cat and a bad case of poison oak are fatal, but I declare, it has been a hectic time.  I also  had to get another computer, because no one could fix the old one.  For now, I can only write where there is internet service, hence these posts are scribed from Brant and Sydneys’ home-before Ryan awakes. 
“When the creek rises”, we must seek higher ground and that is what I have done. 
I watched the moon shine on the quiet streets and felt greatly relieved that at least, the moon was steadfast. The air finally changed and at long last, a few of the leaves started to fade into hues of red and yellow.  Autumns’ late arrival sparked a familiar joy.    My world has  been full of change, but dependably, the love of my family has remained.    There is a small stand of whispering pines that lull away the cares of the day, with just a slight breeze, stirring. Mornings are full of the singing of all sorts of birds.  They are nearly as shy as country birds and so I suspect, I will hang a few bird feeders. . . .and the cat came home.   
“Higher ground” is really a holy place and full of sacred opportunities. I am  not denying that it does not come with some kind of toll, for we must journey uphill, after all just to get there and I confess, that I fell down more than once . . . but the rising creek  seemed smaller and smaller, when I was able to stand. 
Now, I do not know when, I will be able to write again.  Maybe it really will be on November eleventh, as I have been told.   . .but until further notice, know you have all been missed . . and I send best wishes for beautiful days to  all.               

When the Creek Rises-Part II


“The creek had risen” and my ears were ringing, as I read the email, saying the closing, that was to happen in a mere three days was off.  I had worked for several weeks on the little cottage situated on a corner lot, where “the sidewalk ends”.  That very day, I had proudly announced to Kyle and his friend, Bo, that I had put the last of the essentials in place.  Now, I can “ice the cake”, I said happily.  With my friend and landlord, very sick, I had spent some money and labored like there was no tomorrow, besides.  The thought of losing the ONLY rental that I could barely afford AND  take my pets . . the thought of moving everything back . . .was daunting.  I called Jenny and she read the contract.  This really is not allowed to happen, legally she announced.  Tres was devastated and had his ire up, as well. 
I was just stunned.  The next morning, I called the realtor and with no answer, I called the realty team.  Later, we learned that the realtor was quite ill, but the company made sure that I retained the rental and joined forces to sell the house .  This was of great relief to me and satisfied my family.  Two days later, I slept in the cozy little rabbitpatch cottage on Bonnet Street”.  
I knew full well how  the daylight fell on the place, but I had never been there past the twilight time, so I sat on the front porch and watched this new world. I saw   when the sky blackened.  I saw a few stars shining, unhindered by the streetlights.  The neighborhood was very quiet and the folks start turning the houselights off just after dark, I noticed.  It has been unseasonably warm and I felt so disoriented with all the changes, anyway, that I could have sworn it was an evening in June, instead of late October. 
I stayed out for a long while, pondering the events as of lately.  I did feel relieved that the realty company were so supportive , but I still wished that things hadn’t become so complicated for so many folks.  I was sad for the ones that were sick and for  their families.  I was sorry for the wild scrambling the realtors were in the midst of.  I certainly pondered the unfamiliarity of everything for me. 
Was this little rabbitpatch  a very temporary dwelling or could I expect to see spring arrive there?  Truthfully, we never know the future for sure, but must so many things change so suddenly?  My job had changed, my income reduced and now living in a small town, in the absence of field and wood.  So many ways for thoughts to ramble!  It didn’t help a bit that we are without internet-and me locked out of my diary, anyway. 
The house was as silent as could be, which really made the night seem more somber.  I did have a place to rest, after supper . . and loved ones to bless.  These things consoled me and I chided myself for making such a big production over a few twist and turns.  I knew that God did not see these past six months as chaos, but instead, as  an orderly plan.  I reminded myself, that true reliance on God, is not born from a sense of human power, but from recognizing our lack of power in many circumstances.  I should be observing what transpires and gleaning from the experiences, what can serve me.   . . .when   “the creek does rise”. 
I went in and read til I fell asleep.  

 

When the Creek Rises


I have so much to say , for many things have happened in my absence . . yet I can scarce think how to begin!  Words and thoughts are all jumbled up and come out scrambled and senseless.  It all started when I sold the old farmhouse on the rabbitpatch.  Somehow, I was “locked out” of my blog, I realised a few days later.  I was extra busy, so I thought I would tend to that shortly.
That was in September.  The closing day was October 15th, and so I began hunting for a rental to make due  til the dust settled.  I  told everyone that I knew, that I was looking for a modest home and implored their help.  Meanwhile, I packed boxes.  I called several businesses for rental homes, in every spare minute.  I was aghast at the cost of renting.  It was three times my house payment, on average -and nobody allowed dogs!  After a few weeks, I was a bit concerned about my situation.  One house was adequate though I thought it expensive . . but they wouldn’t allow a dog on any terms.  I started driving around the small town, that I worked in, every day after school looking for empty homes.  One day, I saw a small hand made rent sign out front of a dreadful little house in a quaint and charming neighborhood.  The yard was untended and had an unruly hedge lined yard.  Trees were covered in ancient vines.  The house was every bit as old as the one I was selling . . but smaller.  Somehow, a farmhouse had remained snuggly nestled in while darling little cottages with neat yards had sprung up like poppies, all around it.   Of course, I called about it, anyway.  Pickings were slim! 
As it turned out, I knew the landlord and his wife.  The price was manageable, if I was careful and best of all . . Pets were allowed.  I made an appointment to see the house the next day.  It was the dirtiest house that had ever seen and I was certain, that the smell would remain forever etched in my mind.  On top of that, what color was the walls and the doors and the windows and the ceiling?!  Everything was the same peculiar color.  It was as if brown and purple and beige and pink were  combined to make some shade of color . . but what it was called, I could not say.  The house did have a few things going for it.  The neighborhood was pristine not counting this little house on the corner.  Pets were allowed . . .and it was the only house I could find. 
Mama went with me the next time.  The landlord had painted the walls a beige color, lighter than it was, but still odd.  The smell had gone from “worst ever to just bad”.  He said, he had some more things to do to the house, in our last conversation . . .and I agreed, with all my heart.  A few days later, as I was scrubbing dirt and grime and gathering rubbish, someone came in and said, the landlord had suffered a stroke.  I was stunned.  The landlord is my age and seemed as fit as could be.  It was a dreadful shock and I cried for he and his family at that very moment.  I was grateful that though his recovery was expected to be lengthy, recovery was a possibility.
For the next two weeks, I worked nights at the little house.  I took over the painting and added an ivory color, which softened the palette of the interior.  Kyle trimmed the hedges and cleaned the yard which made a huge difference. The landlords’ wife, honored the verbal deal, that had been struck and was pleased that the old and little house on “Bonnet street” was being tended.  Sister Delores made curtains and bought cream colored mums for the front porch.  Tres and Sarah spent a weekend hauling large furniture.  Mama kept us fed.  Love was showing up everywhere and the little house smelled sweet and shone fairly.  Neighbors dropped by to brag on our progress and express their gratitude that at long last, the neighborhood was without blemish.
  A day or so later, I called the realtor to get details on the time and location of “the closing”.  She said to check my emails.  That is when, I found out that the buyers had changed their mind . . .
  
 

As You Tend the Earth


I think every emotion known to mankind, has washed over me and through me, this past week.  Joy, sorrow, excitement, dread, fear . . you name it . . .I have felt it.  I have cried while hanging sheets on the line and moments later ,  felt gladness as I walked by the oldest barn.  I have stood very still, in my thoughts and then rushed headlong in to the future, within minutes.   . . .for,  I have sold the farm.  
Those of you that have a history with the rabbitpatch diary, will remember the “incident” a few years back. when the same thing happened . . .and then it didn’t. Circumstances changed and so I remained here on the beautiful, very  old, remnants of a farm.  In light of that, I know for sure, that anything can happen, but at this time, all indications are  . . that I need to pack. . . and not put another thing in the freezer. 
I am packing . . and haven’t any idea where I am going!  It is a very odd notion to entertain, for my personality . . but here I am, today washing seashells, collected decades ago by five children, for they are going with me . . .wherever that is!  I have not got as much to do, as I could.  I spent a summer, decluttering the place, now two years ago.  I have honored that decision ever since . . .with the exception of books.  I must have given away a thousand books that year-many to the school and I supplied quite a bit to a library and made a donation to a used book store.I probably still have at least a few hundred, that I could not part with.  Many are intended for the grandchildren and will be doled out in time.  Until then . . . they are going with me, too.  There is no way around it-moving from one place to another, is hard work.  . . .but that is not what I have been crying about.  It is the land.
Something happens as you tend to earth.  It happens as you plant. It happens as you water what you planted.  It happens as you cut thorned vines and pick up thousands of branches.  It happens  when you work in the hottest hours and it happens when you are caught in the rain.  It happens when you clean up after a storm-and when you sit in the shade of an old tree.  You find out where the doves are nesting and where the wild rabbit runs.  You know where the evening star shines and where the first rays of morning light fall.  When the earth feeds you . . well, you are grateful and probably hopelessly in love. . .even with the fields that you do not tend and who can claim the sky?  Yet somehow, you feel like such things are your own too.  This is what I cry about.
Then, too are the “precious memories”.  As I traipse the territory, I have flashes of pictures, from days passed.  I see Grandmama raking leaves and I have seen my daddy walking, looking for something to fix.  I see my dear uncles, Randy and Speedy sitting on the porch and Aunt  Carolyn, behind the barn  causing a commotion of some sort.  I see a dog, that I loved, faithfully guarding the place.  I see a fine evening meal celebrating Will and Jennys’ engagement . . and the Christmas tree shining through the windows.  I cry about all that too.  If it weren’t for me getting older and that old barn falling down, and several windows about to fall out and that dreadful sun room . . .
The community doesn’t make it any easier, for  I am convinced that some of the kindest and most noble people on the earth, live right here in Farm Life.
I met  the buyers, a few days ago and I loved them right off.  The wife and I took a stroll so, I could tell her about the flowers.  She just admired everything.  The husband was busy making a list of repairs.  He wasn’t even scared of that old barn!  The visit acted like a tonic on me.  The rabbitpatch will be loved and saved by these folks and I will be cheering them on.  Until further notice,  I will be packing and seeking a place to rent. 
I have never rented and now must learn that business.  It seems that a lot of land lords do not like dogs nor cats.  I will not bring it up that Christian is a musician, either . . .and what in the world is “renters’ insurance”?  Please pray there s no “Home Owners Association”  in my future, either, for I just can’t be but so civilized!  In the meanwhile, I will continue packing and dreaming of a quaint cottage . . the next rabbitpatch is somewhere . . .after all.

 

 

Lyla Starts School . . and Rabbitpatch Business


The past week has been anything but dull.  Plenty has happened . . .but everything pales in comparison to Lyla starting school. 
I was there, that day.  Lyla was so excited that she hopped right in bed , the night before earlier than usual without a single complaint!  The next morning, she popped out of bed, before sun up.  She was so merry and I had to play along, but my stomach hurt and my eyes stung.  Brynn slept through the whole thing. 
The school is but five minutes from the house.  Lyla chattered, and Jenny reminded Lyla to be kind, helpful and respectful . . and to wash her hands.  I was stoic and said things like “Oh, there is the playground!”  as if, nothing momentous was happening.  She got out of the car, and  I watched her growing smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror.  Now, I could cry, for you all know that I am overly sentimental. 
I left Elizabeth City just after lunch, for I started school, the next day myself.  This year, I am working in a reading program.  Books are dear to me and I love them as much as I love music.  Oh, I hope to inspire the students to embrace the love of reading and to recognize fine literature.!  I have been quite nervous though, for it was like starting a new job, to me.  I am happy to announce now, that the first week went well and I think that I may love this new place along my journey. 
Brant, Sydney and Ryan came on Friday night.  We all spent the night at Mamas’.  Ryan is as adorable as ever and says whatever he wants to.  My boxer, Cash came too and right off, Ryan said, “That’s a big dog.”  rather matter of fact like.  He was delighted with “Nanas’ box of trucks, cars and tractors.  Brant remembered several of them.  Ryan also loved the same keyboard that Christian did, as a child.  The boxer laid beside him as he played. 
Once I was in the den, reading one of the books for school, and from the kitchen, I heard the lilt of   the voices of my loved ones carrying on in conversation from the kitchen.  How happy I felt and realised, that was something else, that I loved. On Friday evening, when stars were filling the sky, Sydney took Ryan  out to see them-of course, I was quick to follow.  I remembered Daddy showing me the stars and pointing out the constellations, in that very same yard.  Daddy was not a good teacher at things like math, but he was wonderful when it came to trees and birds and sky.  He was never impatient with those subjects. The next morning after breakfast, Brant and Sydney went to see other family.  I stayed with Mama for there was  a ruckus at the rabbitpatch! 
I did finally and officially put the house on the market and ever since, there has been a steady flow of folks coming to see it.  The house must stay perfectly clean at all times and the yard too!   . . and me!   . . .and the boxer!  With the place at its’ best and the “sea of lavender” blooming, it is a bittersweet time.  I walk around the yard and wonder how I can leave it and so I tell myself, “the barn is falling down.”  I remember those sweet years that the house was full . . and I say to myself . . .”the place is empty now”  I look at the stables where the little goats slept and I say . . “now you have grandchildren.”  I remember all the very hard work and remind myself, that I am older now.  I have less money now too and that is a factor. 
I know, it makes good sense to move  . .but my heart has never been sensible.  I console myself, that I have had the gift of living here and   in some way , have been preparing a gift for many years , for the next family.  I often talk about living simply and how I ought not to take such stock in “stuff” .   I stand by that philosophy . . but I admit that I am still smitten with the old drafty house and the old trees and the patch of young woods.  I try to remember those hateful thorn vines to snap me back to reality.  I can  not do for the rabbitpatch what it needs.  I must’nt be selfish, but I know that I will miss it.  We all miss some one or some thing or some place.  If we do not, it is because we never loved-and that would be more tragic. 
Somewhere, there is  a lonely little rabbitpatch just waiting for me to tend it.  I am sure it will need roses and an apple tree!  I bet there will be vines to cut and I will want a clothes line and geraniums.  I hope there are shelves for my books and neighbors to bake a pie for, ever so often.  Where will I put the Christmas tree?  I must write a poem  right off, and Christian will play his music-any rabbitpatch would want that.  The boxer and the gentle cat will need a cozy corner.  . .and best of all, the grandchildren will run in the door shouting “Honeybee!”. . .and so I will love again. 
I have often thought that imagination is vital for the soul.  When we are wondering, what may befall us, we ought to imagine something wonderful instead of gloom and doom.  Besides, we probably all have a story, where something that seemed dreadful happened, and yet, it turned out to be ok-or even better for us. 
The only thing that I know for sure is no matter how things turn out . . .I will  be expecting a “very bright silver lining”.

August Changed Everything!


Sweet August . . .when “white moths are on the wing”  . . when gardens lack their former vitality and you can smell the corn drying, in the thick air, at twilight . . .has been hot.  It is hot at eight thirty in the morning, scorching by noon and there is not enough coolness in the evening  for the weary.  Mosquitoes buzz happily and wreck my “early service” and I have found that my prayers , under the stars are “short and sweet”, in August. 
I was in Elizabeth City, last week.  It was hot there too . . .maybe more so than here at the rabbitpatch.  Even a small town has a fair share of concrete -and that makes a difference.  Still, the little girls and I managed a few walks and a picnic!  The four days, that I spent there were wonderful and full of shining moments.  I declare that Lyla is such a good and caring sister for Little Brynn.  Lyla reminds me of Jenny, who was a stern but loving second mother to her brothers, when she was growing up.  Brynn is becoming quite compassionate.  Brynn is not yet three, yet she noticed that a woman walking, seemed sad -and Brynn was  probably right, for what a sad countenance this woman wore. 
We had supper at “Aunt J’s” one night.  Aunt J lives just a good walk, from Will and Jenny.  Wills’ mom and my friend, “Miss Claudia, was Aunt J’s sister.  Like everyone else,  I love Aunt J.   Jenny prepared a perfect meal and served us like we were royalty.  Then we had ice cream sundaes! 
I left on Thursday, quite melancholy, knowing, this was “the last hurrah” of my leisure visits . . for it is August, after all.  I start school on Monday.   
This was also Tres’ last weekend home.  He would be leaving on Saturday. I started moaning about that, the minute, that I got home. I did not shed a single tear in his presence, for Tres is so sensible, it would have shocked him to see how unreasonable, his mom can be.  Instead, I packed a bag of food and school supplies and sent him off with the best fake smile, that I could muster.   August is just full of “good byes”.   
I could choose to “look on the bright side”, for it is also a time for new beginnings as everybody  loves to say . . but I will probably  sulk a while, before I say that. It is written, “there is a time to mourn”  .  It is a good thing to be positive, but life is not always roses and sunshine, and to deny sadness,  is like a denial of what it means to be human. I do not want anything ugly dwelling in my heart.  . .not bitterness or anger, not dismay or sadness . . so, I let feelings wash clean through me, til the beauty of what was lost,  outshines the sorrow of losing it, til moving on  is more desirable than wallowing  –  and so when it is a time to mourn, then I do.  . .whether it be for  such things as a fallen sparrow or a grown up son leaving in August.
My very good parents did not and could not have shielded their children from unpleasantries .  Foals were still born, sometimes and dogs died.  Some books did not end “happily ever after” and every race was not to be won, though we ran our best.  My parents showed us all of life, shadow and light . . and that has made the difference.
Often, I think that recovery from disappointments -and imagination, are some of the most important skills, to teach children, as they will with great certainty, need both.
It finally rained on Sunday and cooled things off. The sky was full of thunder, and  I suppose everyone in “Farm Life” was full of hope.  I went out and saw huge, steel blue   clouds moving overhead.  They looked like whales swimming along the horizon.  I watched the rain coming across the field.  Rarely does rain “sneak” up on you, in the country. 
I spent the afternoon, preparing for what seems like a “new job”. that starts on Monday.  I confess, that I am almost nervous about it.  My niece Hayley , starts a new job too, on Monday and niece Dana has her first day of college.  Tres starts school on Tuesday.  Nephew Brandon, starts on Monday.  Jenny has started a part time job. Oh . . .August came along and just changed everything!
The territory  around the old farmhouse is following suit and changes almost daily.  Yesterday, the loosestrife sported some blossoms, and the  roses are fading.  The beloved morning glory is clambering wildly now and ever so often, a dry leaf will fall from a sycamore. The wild mulberry is full of promises for a spectacular show, soon to come and the grapes  on the very old vines are not as green as they were a fortnight ago.  In this way, I measure time.  
Humans may race about at breakneck speed , but nature  is never frantic.  The world can get mighty loud and commotion springs up at the “drop of a hat”.  We get so accustomed to it, that  somehow  we seem to have “acquired a taste for it’. Nature , on the other hand, whispers its’ fanfare.  
Oh, how I  love the silent, wild  wood, with its’  beauty and lack of racket.  ..and the fields that lie quietly and do not boast of their  magnificent  and mighty value.   I have never seen a sky, that did not humble me.  I have found something new to love also, for one night, Lyla, Brynn and I were looking out out a window and saw an evergreen with clinging raindrops, lit up by the moonlight.  It shone brightly and Lyla gasped at  the sight. 
August, with its’ heat, mosquitoes and changes . .is at least generous in some respects .  I musn’t forget to love August, too.