One Beautiful Sunday


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Before I knew it, the  work week had passed til now it is Saturday,  It has been a week of chill, light rain and wind.  The winds of March are always noteworthy here.  Sometimes, you  can not even bear to walk outside because of it.  It is not the kind of wind for kites, for the the gusts will nearly sweep you away!  When I went to bed last night, I could here the wind howling like a distant train whistle.  Yet, when the sun rose this morning, the old barn was still standing and somehow the spirea hadn’t lost a single blossom!

We have had a sad event in our small community, this week.  A neighbor and friend passed quietly, night before last.  Miss Susie was a vibrant, youthful lady.  I will not go on about her, because she never liked too much attention.  I will say, that Miss Susie was the one who gave me flowers to plant at the old farmhouse, and I mentioned that from time to time.  She gave me the hard to find “tansy, that smells like honey”  and  the “autumn joy” that is now green with new life.  

The rabbitpatch has had a lot of sorrow and trial this year.  It has been an unusual year in that respect.  Now, there is no comparison, to the tragedies that continue to unfold in this world.   . .and I am well aware that things can always be worse . We all have our burdens as that is part of this life.  I do not know how, any of us can have  the fortitude needed, without a faith. It must be an awful predicament. 

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Tomorrow, the family gathers to celebrate Daddys’ and Christians’ birthdays.  For this reason, I have a large pot of chicken already boiling for brunswick stew.  My sister, Delores is bringing barbecue, my cousin Chris, is making ribs, Chuck is bringing chicken and Mama is making a cake. There are also , all sorts of sides, as well, so we are all in the kitchen today. 

Jenny has a “bug” of some sort and Lyla is showing signs of coming down with it, so it is likely, they will not attend.  My sister Connie is on some island in the Caribbean, celebrating her twenty fifth anniversary, so it may not quite be a full house, but it will be close.  

Somehow, the old farmhouse has remained tidy from last weekends’ gallant effort-but I may tackle another room, since the wind is still blowing and it is a cold wind, too. The sky is  a clear, bright blue and reminds me of October. But for the wind, it would be a lovely day to hang sheets on the line. Instead , I decided to wash my spring dresses, which had been packed up.  This is the first time I  have unpacked anything since that fateful day in December, when the sell of the rabbitpatch, fell through.  Not even the Christmas China, was unpacked, this year.  I do not have much choice in this particular matter, as spring days are bound to come at some point. I put them on hangers and hung them wherever I could secure them.  They hung from hooks intended for plants, the awning outside of the sunroom and  even the welcome lantern.  All  were adorned with floral prints fluttering in the wild wind.  While i did not trust mere clothes pins, it seemed wrong not to take advantage of the fierce gale as it swept through the territory.

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The stew was done not long after noon.  I cleaned the kitchen and then collected the dresses.  They were all dry and smelled like the rose soap, I had used and fresh air.  I got a small room clean, so that only leaves three more.  I sat down to take a break,  The boxer joined me – and that is the last thing I remember . . .for I fell fast asleep . . .so did the boxer.  

I woke up hungry and totally confused about the time .  The sun was shining, so surely I was late for work.  Had I missed the birthday party?  When I finally got my bearings straight, I made us all a cheeseburger and took the clothes out of the dryer.   I was up til midnight, which is always the case, when I nap. 

The moon rose over the field, and I was in awe, for it was tinged with a slightly greenish light – and it was huge.  There it was shining on everyone with no regards to things like age or status.  Things wild and things tame, we all shared , the glory of the moon, in March.

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Somehow, I still got up early on Sunday morning.  The day was as bright as the day before, and the sky was just as blue.  The wind had ceased and birds were singing.  I was chopping cabbage by eight-and had put in the last load of laundry.  Mama loves my slaw, and it does pair well with barbecue.  I always make enough to leave her some for the week.  Other than my chopping cabbage, the house was quiet.  The washing machine hummed softly and the mockingbird sang boldly.  These are some of the things, I love about mornings.

I do not enjoy chopping cabbage.  It makes your hands tired and it takes a good while, to get it fine enough to eat.  I do not like the way  kitchen machines chop it, for the cabbage is often rendered mushy and this does affect the flavor.  If someone walks in the kitchen, while I am chopping, whether they live here or not, I hand them the bowl and invite them to take a turn.  Still, I do think a lot, as I am chopping, as is typical when I have such a task.  I have solved many a problem,  while peeling potatoes or canning tomatoes. . . and dreamed like a “big shot”.

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As it turns out,  I am leaving for Elizabeth City, after the birthday party.  Jenny is still sick and Will goes back to work tomorrow.  She did see a doctor this morning, and so got some medicine-though I plan to fix her a pot of chicken soup-which is good for everything. 

Thankfully, I had cooked a lot of pancakes this morning.  Kyle is home again and so he and Christian will have pancakes, besides some party leftovers.  I do not care how old the children get, I cook for them when I can.  Tres and Brant, each  has a pint of stew to carry with them – and Mama and Daddy are cooking their favorite beans, so they will have those, as well.  Whenever, I see my grown sons, I always say “Please come back home, so I can cook for you and wash your clothes.”  My friends cringe, when I tell them, but I mean it with all of my heart.  Of all the things I have accomplished – or ever will, being their mother matters most to me. 

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The party was wonderful.  It was so nice outside, that  we were able to gather on the porch and recall our childhood escapades.  How we all lived to grow up, is beyond me, for we were wildlings and quite curious children. We played awful tricks on one another and did all sorts of dangerous things.   

The food was all good and there was plenty to send off, with most everyone.  I was relieved that Kyle and Christian would not starve in my absence.  I made a big plate for Will, as Jenny has not been in the kitchen for days.

I drove to Elizabeth City right afterwards under fair skies.  On the way, I thought of all the good things, the day had brought. I smiled remembering the thoughtfulness that had gone in to today.  I was glad that Daddy had enjoyed himself.  Tres had been able to come home, which is always a special occasion, for me. Brant and Sydney came . . .oh, Dear Diary, This was one beautiful Sunday! 

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There is Always Something


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 It is Saturday morning, early enough, that it seems like me and the mockingbird, are the only ones in the world.  The mockingbird sings from the patch of young woods, at the far corner of the territory.  His song echoes with an almost magical lilt and comes through the open window of the old farmhouse.   It is breezy enough, to make the pines whisper and a bit cool for an open window, but I like listening to his morning prelude, so I get a warm blanket and sit quietly, beneath it, in the dark, like an odd, old woman.  I am not sorry one iota, for these moments.  In fact, I feel privileged to know such a time.  

The sun came up with a gentle light.  I saw rain clouds in the near distance.  By this time, a dove cooed softly and the wind had all but stopped.  The sun dimmed and the rain clouds moved on, without much ado.  . . and the pines stood still, without a refrain.

After all of the commotion, of last weekend, I am hoping this one, remains as peaceful as it has started.

Daddy celebrated his eighty-fourth birthday, yesterday.  My sister Connie and her husband Mike – and niece Hayley , took him and Mama out for lunch.  I stopped by after school with his favorite ice creams.  Mama made her trademark, pineapple cake and someone tied a balloon on the mailbox.  We are having a party next weekend to celebrate Christians’ and Daddys’ birthdays. 

I can scarce take it in, that my daddy is eighty four -and that my “baby” can grow a beard in twenty four hours.  It just goes to show , that even though we can measure time precisely, it still slips through our fingers stealthily -and slyly, with the skill of water.

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I am at the rabbitpatch again this weekend.  There is a fair share of things to be tended to, besides the usual housekeeping.  The first mild days of the year act like a prod of sorts, on me-to get on with my business.  Right now, my business is getting the rabbitpatch territory cleaned up.  Besides the winter refuge of leaves and more small branches, there is the old refrigerator and a dryer to be removed.  Besides that, there are two pieces of furniture in the house, that are long past their days of glory.  Neither will make the trip to my future cottage. . .whenever that is.  

The floors are in awful mess due to the rain and there is laundry to be put away -and the boxer is getting a bath.  Besides that, tomorrow is Saint Patricks’ Day, when you have even a drop of Irish blood, then it calls for a celebration.  We take our Irish heritage seriously and so we never let the day pass quietly.  Jenny and Will, even got engaged on a Saint Patricks’ Day, years ago in Savannah, by a grove of live oaks.  

This year, we are having a pot of  hearty potato soup thickened with Irish cheese – and reuben sandwiches.  It is a simple fare, compared to most years, but it still counts as a patronage to our ancestors, who had names like  Hiram, Henderson McDuffy and Asabella Leary.  

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I started  my housekeeping, cheerfully.  The “spark” does not stay there as long as it used to, I notice.  I wonder how in my late forties, I could clean the whole house, every nook and cranny, all day long.  Certainly, I was tired in the evening, but the house fairly sparkled . . . in those days.  What a difference a decade makes! I value cleanliness, as much now as ever, but I sure do not accomplish now, what I used to, in a day.  It has helped that I have remained steadfast, in my desire to live without any clutter, but it still takes me twice as long as it used to, to scrub the floors  -and I did next to nothing in the yard. 

While I was out, I did note that the peach tree blossoms had been faded by a cold night, a few days ago.

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Sunday morning dawned cold.  I did not rise before the sun, this day.  Neither did the birds.  It was a quiet early service for a while.  There was a light frost, which is natural in March.  . . and which is why the peach tree, should have waited to bloom. 

There was just enough chill in the air to warrant my hearty Irish soup.  I still have housekeeping, too.  I worked on and off yesterday til I just gave out.  The farmhouse is so much bigger than it used to be.  For some years, the house was just the right size.  Grandmama was here and three of my sons.  Every bedroom was occupied and the kitchen table was full at supper.   A cake did not last, much more than a day or two, in those days.    The clothes line  was full, if the sun was shining and the broom was always out and handy.  Those were merry days. 

Now, boxes are stacked in corners, awaiting their destiny . . . .as am I.  I remain optimistic, and patient  .  That is why the boxes are unpacked and I have pots waiting to be filled with clumps  of  flowers and sprigs of cuttings, for they are moving too. One day they will bloom on a small yard around a neat cottage.  Grandchildren may have to share a chair at the table and folks will sleep in odd places,  for it will on occasion, be a full house . . . that takes a half day to clean!  And while I am dreaming, I should include roses – a lot of them.

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I had the walls washed and the windows cleaned in the little den, before nine.  I started a pot of chicken boiling, for the soup base.  Then I tore the sofa apart –  and moved it and the rest of furniture, making a total disaster, altogether.  The boxer had not planned on this interruption and his face was  filled with shock and disapproval. 

By noon, the room was put back together and smelled like orange and rosemary.  The soup was done and I only awaited a soft blanket to dry.  Of course, there was more to be done . . .but it was only noon.

My bedroom was a piece of cake to clean.  The sunroom was awful.  It is in need of repair, which is disheartening in itself.  I tend to ignore the room as it is a pitiful sight.  I set about that task, which took twice as long as I expected.  No matter how much I cleaned, it was hard to feel but a slight satisfaction, in my effort.  It needs painting and the ceiling needs new paneling.  The floor is two different kinds of vinyl   and so no matter how clean it is, it is nothing short of an eyesore. 

I took a stroll around the territory, as the sun was out and the wild violets are blooming.   How sweetly the shy little violets make me feel.  They are stalwart little things and do not fear the frost.   The grass is greening in patches and some of the lilies are up . . .so are the irises.  The boxer ran, leaping and bounding joyfully.  Boxers, naturally like to  celebrate  and will do so “at the drop of a hat”.  On this day in late winter, there was reason to be glad.  A good deal of work had been accomplished, we had wandered, without hurry and a good supper was waiting.  Dear Diary, There is always something, to be glad about.

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With All of My Heart


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It has become a tradition for me to complain about the time change, every year.  Several days have passed and I am just now feeling a bit acclimated to the “changing of the clocks”.  I dislike it as much as ever and find it just as ridiculous.  It does not help one bit, that mornings are pitch dark when I rise.  It could just as well be midnight.  Stars are still shining, over a silent world, for things like mockingbirds, have better sense, than to stir in the pitch dark. 

True, to the forecast, the weather has been mild during the day-and it has not rained for several days.  Oh it is hardest to work inside, when the days are fair.  My thoughts turn to things like the “laughing river” and what a grand day, it is to have a picnic.  I wish I was home, hanging sheets on the line or gathering branches of Pops’ “golden rod” blossoms   . . . or reading something delightful, in the sunshine.  It was the same, when I was young.

I tolerated school fairly well . . until the first, silvery days of spring.  Then I got “homesick”.  I knew Pop was plowing a field and I could almost smell the earth.  In those days, the classroom windows would be open, but there was no chance of smelling apple blossoms, in town.  The air smelled like fuel and pavement, and the cafeteria food being cooked, just never smelled “right” to me.

I had several problems with lunchroom behavior, for while I didn’t want to eat that “canned stuff”,   I was certain the birds  might.  I put the peas  and carrots, in my milk carton and this worked for most of the year, until I dropped the carton, one day and peas rolled right to where the teacher was standing.  This landed me in a tight spot for I was accused of wasting food, which ironically, I was trying not to do – and after that, the teacher had to check my tray every day.  there were many more infractions, for I was likely to eat my dessert first and I refused the vegetable soup altogether.  They served it on Fridays and I was sure they were using “scraps” to make it.

It is no wonder that I wanted to stare out that window, and imagine that beautiful place called home-which “got recorded as day dreaming”.   

The classroom smelled like “math books”, lest I ever forget “modern math”.   The books were brand new and filled with nonsense about how to add simple numbers.  It was the only book, that I was tempted to leave out in the rain, or cut into paper dolls, but I knew better than that, for even a two cent library fine, was shameful, in those days.  None of the adults liked “modern math” either .   It was an awful waste of life, after all.  I announced it to my teacher, who told Grandmama the next Sunday morning, as we attended the same church. 

 I am older now, and realise that I had wonderful teachers, really.  I was just a bit too untamed to appreciate all  of the civilization, that schools forced.  . . and the library did cover a multitude of sins, as far as I was concerned.

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Besides the fields and quiet pastures, I drive by a vacant lot, on the way to and from work.  It is a short and peaceful commute that allows just the right amount of time to collect my thoughts.  A vacant lot in the country is just a patch of land, usually void of buildings, though sometimes, there is an old barn or shed.  More than likely, there will be a grove of pecan trees, or some old shade trees.  Somebody will keep the lots mowed, but for them to be deemed vacant, means no one is ever seen there.  Such lots are few and far between, in the country.  There is one such lot, though a few miles from the rabbitpatch.  It is covered now in daffodils, as it is every year.  What a sight to come across!  I can not imagine how this happened, but there it is, a field of daffodils.  They are coming up  carelessly,  with no rhyme or reason, to any order.  The buttery petals fill the ordinary lot, transforming it in to something spectacular. In other seasons, one might not give the place, a second glance, but in the spring, this is not so. 

Though the calendar does not proclaim it, it does seem like spring has been declared.  I am not sure what to make of, such an early arrival.   I do not remember a spring so well under way, at this time of year, ever.   I do hope a hateful frost does not come along and spoil everything.  I love every season and most every kind of weather.  In the winter, I love to see a bit of snow, and I will declare it the most beautiful sight of all.  I love the autumn, when the countryside is painted in amber and gold and apricot.  The smell of wood smoke and the skies of October make me fall hopelessly head over heels, with the season.  In early summer, there is the wild honeysuckle and fresh cut grass.  I love the garden and the morning glory climbing up old sheds and fences.  In the summer, when stars number in the millions overhead, I am swept away in the beauty . . .and now with the return of the song birds and the Quiet Garden turning green, and all of those daffodils, then I say spring must be the best of all.  I am surely fickle, but Dear Diary, I love everything wildly and with all of my heart!  

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Old Friends and Wild Violets


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Once again, it is Friday.  Friday is never a dull day when I am working.  It is easier to get up in the morning, no matter the conditions . . .for it is Friday!  Coming home feels especially liberating and hopefulness abounds in the prospect of some time that belongs to you.  Whether you plan to do housework, or read or go hiking, there is a beautiful element to “owning your life”.  It is a truer form of wealth to me, than money ever dared to be.  

Holding my laughing Brynn, or telling Lyla a story, walking amongst the old trees with the boxer, playing music with Christian-all of these things are priceless to me. I do not mind living frugally to afford these hours.  I practiced the same habits, when my children were young, hence my pockets are filled with yesterdays’ gold, and so are theirs.  I have more regrets, than I wish, but “taking to the woods in October, for a picnic” on a Tuesday, is not one of them.   

This does not mean that I am not an advocate for work, but the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”  does seem to ring dreadfully true. Finding  your own balance is a  quest to pursue with great fervor, for it makes all the  difference in our life . . .and what skill, it requires, for the scales tilt, first one way and then another, as we go along, depending on our circumstances. What once worked, no longer does and off we go again, adjusting and adapting, according to our current needs.  Balance is truly a lifelong endeavor, but the reward is also, lifelong.

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This weekend is no ordinary weekend at the rabbit patch.  Tomorrow is Christians’ birthday.  Birthday ceremonies are not only for the day, at the rabbitpatch.  We start before the eve of the special day and finish up, several days later.  Only Christians’ favorite foods will be on the menu and  he will be on “light duty” too. 

Christian is my fourth and last son-and the youngest of five.  He is not without fault, but they are few and far between.  Worldly things hold little attraction for Christian-they never have.  He is bored with trends and has never followed shallow dreams.  He is compassionate, gentle, humble and an artist, to the core.  He is one of the most spiritual people I know and has served as a beacon to me, on countless occasions.  If it sounds like I am a doting mother, it is because I am.  I do not bear a bit of shame in it, either.  Far be it from me to make light of such a beautiful gift.

It is also Miss Thelmas’ birthday.  Miss Thelma lives across the street from Jenny.  Tomorrow will be Miss Thelmas’ ninety fifth birthday!  She has been so excited.  She explained to me, that she did not have a big wedding.  She married just after World War II and the world was still recovering.  She had a son , who passed a few years ago.  Her husband is bed ridden, but has a clear mind, at 96!  She told me today, that seeing her name in the Church Bulletin was just thrilling!  

I met Miss Thelma several years ago, when Jenny and Will moved in to Riverside, the old village by the “laughing river”.  A few weeks later, Miss Thelma came over with a card and candy, to welcome them.  She was a striking lady with long silvery hair.  Her smile was just beautiful.  We struck up a conversation and became fast friends.  She has done a good bit of traveling, and was head of the NC teachers for almost a decade.  To her credit, she STILL has students, that come to visit her, thirty years after retirement! 

Tomorrow, is a “red letter” day, in these parts!

527b3c764cb5d880d96a739ee27b57daI did not scurry a bit today.  I did make a caramel cake for Christian.  I have talked about it enough, that he wanted one too.  I did laundry and other housekeeping tasks.  I like to leave my house clean and orderly on Monday mornings, and it will be here sooner rather than later.  

Though it rained again, last night, it did not rain today.  I took a stroll around the rabbit patch in the still grey day. The boxer was with me as we explored the aftermath of winter.  It really wasn’t as bad as I thought.  There were branches, but all were small and manageable.  The wind had brought in debris, which was found lodged in the old fence.  The peach trees behind the barn were blooming, and  so were the daffodils, making bright patches of bright yellow here and there.  The forecast declares a stretch of dry, sunny weather, ahead . . . and so maybe, all  hope is not lost for an abundant and colorful spring, after all. 

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Christian and I were up early on Sunday.  He opened his presents, while a light rain fell.  I was to play for Miss Thelmas’ birthday reception, so I hadn’t a moment to waste. It didn’t help a bit, that we had to change the time, as well.  I received notice from two loved ones of bad news. just moments before I needed to leave.   . .and so I left the rabbitpatch with a heavy heart.

It was a mild day and a friendly breeze was blowing.  I drove to Elizabeth City, in rain and shine, for it would rain for a few miles, and  then sunshine dappled the highway, the next few.  I had to really concentrate on my driving, for I do not take sorrow lightly.

I barely made the service on time,  which was very unsettling.   The house Miss Claudia lived in, was just a street over, and how hollow I felt, all over again.  What an awful time to be so full of sorrow – and late!  I walked in to a church full of friendly folks.  The pastor could not hide the relief, at seeing me.   Neither could Miss Thelma, who was lovely as ever and fairly glowing.  Somehow I manged the first song with a heart, not yet stilled.  Listening to the sermon, improved my spirits, for the message was about the dependability of Christ.  The second song came easier than the first, thankfully.  

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The ride back to the rabbitpatch, was much like the one, away from it.  This time I noticed the blooming, stark white pear trees and the wildflowers growing everywhere.  Sunbeams fell tenderly over the fields.  How, I wondered, could a day hold so much beauty, be also filled with tragedy?  

I had not been home long, when a dear friend, for over a decade, dropped by.  Gayle and I were neighbors for a good while.  She was steadfast and dependable, when my husband was sick.  She dependably cared for my youngest sons and fed us all.   When storms blew in, we got in the habit of cooking a joint supper.   Today, she brought me a sweet picture of a rabbit.  Her visit did me good, for we sat around the kitchen table,  chatting, as if we still saw each other daily. 

Afterwards, the boxer and I walked around the territory.  I gathered more branches and collected a small bag of trash  . . .again.  All sorts of birds were flying about and singing cheerfully.  I found a patch of wild violets. . . . and  Dear Rabbitpatch Diary,  I love  violets. 

What a mixed batch, the weekend was.  Celebrations and calamities all at once, grey skies and sunlight.  Oh how glad I am for old friends and violets.

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As Long as Children Talk to Trees


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It is hard to say whether or not “March came in like a lion”, for February made such a spectacle of itself, masquerading like the late days of April.  Either way it is the time of March -the time of daffodils and wind.

I came to Elizabeth City on Thursday.  A cold wind blew and rain soon followed.  It didn’t matter for Jenny and I had plenty to do -and it was inside work. We had high hopes of changing out the wardrobes of both girls.  I thought that would take   the best part of a day.  We also had planned a special supper for Wills’ “Aunt J” and his sister, Mari.  We wanted to go to a new grocery store and I wanted to make a caramel cake.  I  have never made one from scratch, and the icing takes a long while to make, for it must simmer for about two hours.  There was a lot to do, for we were not short on lofty notions.

Lyla always celebrates my arrival by running in to my arms and then hugs  me for a long while.   It is always a wonderful feeling-to know you are so loved.  Brynn has been warming up to me over the last month and now she is quite satisfied in my arms.  One thing, I can say with certainty, is that it is a wonderful blessing to be a grandparent. 

ffed431d5fcf7813295a7e9c9907db02 Jenny and I started switching the clothes out on Friday morning.  I had forgotten that Jenny has a small group of mothers that pass clothes along to one another.  There were four or five bins to sort.  Each bin was holding the maximum amount of little dresses, coats pajamas, socks and every other article of clothing you can imagine.  First we sorted by size, then by season.  Of course, first we had to sort through the clothes. the girls had out grown.  Stacks of clothes soon filled the bedroom, for  mothers, with younger children and ones for Brynn to grow in to.  It took all day just to get to that point.  Then it was time to wash all to be used.  That happened on Saturday.  As we went along, we cleaned the closet out, as it seemed foolish not to do so.  Now here it is Sunday morning and there is still one bin left!

There was a lot of activity amongst the birds this morning.  There were doves and the robin that sits on the fence surveying the goings and comings of everyone, was in his usual post.  He always sits in the same spot, and does not stir from it, in my presence. There were sparrows and wrens – and some noisy blackbirds.  A pair of cardinals were frantically on some mission and then . . .I saw the Tanager.  I had to look twice.  He was as red as could be, and made the cardinals “pale in comparison”.  I have only seen these birds a  time or two, in the last  few years.  I do hope, he decides to stay.

Will and Jenny met friends for brunch.  Will has had such loss recently, first his beloved mother, then someone he admired, a mentor and a friend -and last week he lost his oldest and best friend to a sudden and fatal pancreas attack.  Well, the friends of Will and Jenny just wanted to do something to lift their spirits, hence, a brunch.  The little girls stayed with me and it was a delightful and calm hour. 

When they  all returned, I walked to Miss Thelmas’ for a quick visit.  She has a birthday, this coming Sunday, on the same day as Christian!  Miss Thelma is turning ninety-five!  She has been planning a party, for weeks.  She showed me her napkins and she has party favors for all of the children.  Her church will host the event.  I am playing the violin, at her request, during the service.  I am trying to persuade Christian to play with me.  A good guitarist, like love, does cover a “multitude of sins”.  I helped Miss Thelma choose an outfit and listened to her grand plans.  It made me glad to see her so full of joy and anticipation.  Jenny and I started on the last of the clothing, when I got back. 

It took all afternoon, to wash and place the clothes in the drawers and closet -or into a half dozen piles with different destinations.  By evening. the piles were packed and some sent on their way.  The upstairs bedroom was orderly at last. Jenny and I were so tired, that we ordered supper out.  Lyla was tired too, from trying on one dress after another . . . and shoes . . .and coats.   I took a shower and told Jenny, how good it felt and that I was restored, body and soul, from those wicked stairs and sitting on the floor for hours.  When Jenny got her shower, I asked happily how she felt and she said . . .exhausted.”

Another thing I can say with certainty, is that Lyla and Brynn do not need any clothing for the next several seasons -and at this rate, Brynn may never need anything til she is in the fourth grade!  It is a sensible practice, but it does require an amazing amount of effort.  . .and so I never did make that caramel cake.

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It rained again that night.  Rain fell and  muted the street lights.  There was wind too.  Lyla watched the young willow, from the nursery willow.  The bare tendrils swirled gracefully.  Lyla loves the willow.  She loves to play under it when the leaves fill the branches, for it makes the perfect canopy to dance beneath-or to have a tea party.  Lylas was upset that the willow was bare, so I explained to her that the earth was just resting.  Now, Lyla loves the willow, but the other day, she was in the back yard talking to a little fig tree.  I heard her say “Grow little tree!”  I know you can!”  Jenny says that Lyla often talks to the fig tree.    I may be the only grandmother alive, that would say so, but this thrilled me with no end.  It will come as no surprise that I talked to trees when I was but a child. It came about quite naturally.   . .and I still do.

Before I left Elizabeth City, I noticed a few green, tender leaves on one of the branches of Lylas’ willow tree.  I told her and she ran to the porch to see for herself.  

Dear Rabbitpatch Diary,   In a world so changed, from the one I knew, and I fear, some beauty lost ,   . . . I will remain hopeful . .    for as long as children talk to trees. . . there is hope.

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Dear Rabbitpatch Diary


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It was not raining when I woke on Sunday. There was a bit of wind rattling the bare oak branches and the sky was that now familiar, pale pewter color.  I noticed the forsythia is in bloom, which I call “golden rod” as my Pop always did.  Pop, my maternal grandfather loved the bright yellow blooms of the forsythia, but he always refused to call them by their rightful name.  To him they were golden rods, and there was no convincing him otherwise.  I never see one, that I do not remember him and today was no different.  If sunshine could bloom, it would be called “golden rod”.

Now, today I must focus on tidying up the  old farm house.  Plenty of things are in the wrong place, which always ends up in  a catastrophe.  Also, I am getting ready for selling the rabbitpatch.  This requires a great deal of preparation.  I do not mind looking at houses with flaws, for I can see past them.  Some folks can not.  Will can not.  Once, we were looking at an adorable home.  I loved it, but Will said “The walls are purple!”  and dismissed it as impossible!   My friend Jo Dee and I looked at a dear cottage, but the yard was in need of mowing – and had been.  Jo Dee could not imagine the yard tidy nor mowed!  I must take that, into account.  I remember the first time someone came to look at  the rabbitpatch.  (Remember that every closet and cabinet is fair game.)  When it was over, I prayed they would buy it and that would be the end of the nightmare!

I had hoped to begin again in February, but just now, the landscape is so dull, save the spirea and the “golden rod”.  I love the winter landscape, but I can not deny the splendor of spring at the rabbitpatch.  I suspect some folks would be persuaded in spring, more so, than the fading days of February.  . . and most especially, when the peach trees bloom.

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It was a pleasant surprise, when the sun came out, in the mid afternoon.  I had put some of the windows up, since there was a mild breeze blowing.  I was as convinced as the spirea, that spring was just around the corner and then I chided myself, for falling so easily for “fools’ gold”-  if it is the prelude to spring, it will be the earliest one, I have ever known.  I do hope no one starts their garden now or anytime soon, for it is mid April, before the danger of frost is truly past.

Meals are served at odd hours under such circumstances, as deep cleaning.  We ate a late breakfast, skipped lunch and had an early supper.  I finished all of the rooms but three and was satisfied with the progress.  The last three rooms will be done, when I can get to them.  The yard is in shambles presently, but  that will require several days-long days, to complete.  

I went out,  when night had fallen.  The stars shone brightly.  I felt like they were long lost friends, come back at last.  Orions’ belt was bold and glittered like a strand of  rare diamonds.  I tarried briefly, in the star shine letting it wash over me like an ancient tonic . . .

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Now Monday came along, and that changed everything.  The sun came up, heralding the day with a burst of golden glory.  It has been a while, since the day dawned in such a way.  I had a good day at work and came home to wait for Mama and Daddy and the boys.  Mama and Daddy were worried, because my refrigerator wasn’t cooling as it ought to, due to the seal.  I had been tolerating it a while , but that wouldn’t do, for Mama and Daddy.  I pulled the old refrigerator out, cleaned behind it and unloaded the contents.  I even decided to start supper and all was well, when they pulled up.  Besides the refrigerator, they had a puppy !  He was a tiny thing and looked like a little boxer.  He was found on a road, without a near by house.  The boys asked the residents of the few houses down the road, but no one knew anything about the little fellow.  I guessed him to be only five to six weeks old.  Thankfully, my parents’ neighbor was planning to rescue a dog, and had just been approved, to do so.  We agreed to keep him tonight, so she could prepare and make an appointment with a veterinarian.  I think sadly, he was abandoned.   His little eyes were still tinged with blue. I gave him some warm milk, which he gulped greedily.  Daddy held the puppy tenderly while the boys tended to the many details of replacing a refrigerator. Daddy loves dogs and was very worried about him.  The puppy was soon fast asleep in Daddys’ arms.  In the midst of the new appliance and the puppy and supper, someone called to say they were interested in the rabbitpatch.  What a lot of commotion in that hour!   

After supper and after a bath for the puppy, I had a pleasant conversation with the woman interested in the house.  They currently live in a very old house, not so far away.  I told her the awful truths of the place and did not sugar coat a thing. . . though I did also say, that the place had more charm , than any place I have ever lived, for that is also true.  We have an appointment, in the near future.

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Tuesdays’ sunshine made the ornamental pears bloom . . .and the daffodils,too.   The drive to work on Wednesday gave me evidence  of that. It is too late to turn back now, for blossoms are everywhere, frost or not, I will enjoy what the current conditions are affording. . . .and it is lovely. 

Maybe the seasons have shifted.  Scientists even say so.  So many people are glad for shorter winters, but has anyone asked the birds,? for this surely affects their migration habits.  Well, climate really affects every living thing.  It is an amazing but sobering subject.  We ought to all practice good stewardship of this planet, we call home.  This is one “bandwagon” we all should be on.  It is bewildering to me, that this does not dominate headlines, as we will none escape this predicament unscathed.  Instead, the networks cover who wore what to some event. . . Dear Rabbitpatch Diary,  every day I sound older, I realise.

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On a brighter note, the little foundling, went to his new home today.  The lady that took him, said she had just been praying for a puppy – the right puppy to adopt, when the boys showed up with him.  I take great joy and comfort in that.  

May they live happily ever after.

 

 

The Twilight of Winter


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It is Friday again and it seems it was just Friday, a few days ago!  Here we are in the “short rows” of winter, already.  I notice that seasons, now seem but a few weeks, and the years zip pass, too.  

As a child the time between Christmases, seemed like an eternity – the same can be said for birthdays.  Summers were really endless, in my youth, though they were never long enough to suit me.   I remember my elders would talk about something that happened twenty years ago, as if it were just last year.  I thought they were “mad” for  they always seemed startled, when they realised, it was decades ago, that the barn was that old, or since they had  seen a certain cousin.  Now, I understand fully well, their predicament.  . . and as it turns out, I am every bit as mad now, as they ever dared to be.

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It is raining again, as it has most every day, for weeks. The rabbitpatch sits on high ground and rarely a puddle forms here.  The yard is a soggy mess now and there are puddles. Some folks can hardly walk in their yards and cars are getting stuck regularly .  I have read that we have more rain this year than any other year, recorded – and I believe it.  In that case,  I am perfectly content sitting under a soft blanket, by the morning table.    I still have books to read and I need to write in my journals.  I haven’t baked bread as often as I wanted too, nor practiced sketching. . . and here we are in the twilight of winter!

Some people are glad of it.  I however, am not prone to “wish time away” . . .well, not entire seasons, at least.  I am as guilty as can be, when it comes to “official appointments” of any sort. 

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It was still raining Saturday morning, when I woke.  I had heard it falling throughout the night.  At first light, I looked out the window and  the scene reminded me of a black and white photograph.  Little silver droplets clung to the old oak and with just  a bit of imagination, it looked like the old oak was decorated with tiny lights. It was a beautiful picture and I dwelled on it for a while. 

I decided to make a pot of soup, as I am apt to on rainy days.  By now, it is almost a ritual for me.  I hardly ever make soup, unless it is winter.  I will make the tomato basil in months like June, but again,  only if it rains. I was out of carrots, but I did have a small sweet potato, which is a fine substitute . . and so before ten o’clock, the kitchen smelled like home.  

Tonight,  Mama and I are teaming up for supper, so I have more cooking to do.  I think I will make apple dumplings, for Brant is coming and he especially loves apples.    Mama is cooking a pork roast and so I will probably  fry cornbread, as it pairs well with pork.  Nobody will mind that we had it last weekend, either.  I had been thinking to cook a pot of green beans too.  They would  be a good side with our supper fare, but alas, when I had the pot of seasoning boiling, the greenbeans in the freezer, turned out to be broccoli.  It was a shock, as I had planned on the menu, for days.  After a bit, the thing became funny-though Daddy won’t think so. 

There is always housework, and today I will tackle that.  Still, Saturday seems like a soft breeze, compared to days like Tuesday.  

As is always the case, the day slipped by til it was time to make the apple dumplings.  I wanted them to be warm when we ate them. They cooked all to pieces.  Of course we can eat them, for the taste is really almost divine, but they aren’t  the usual cute little dumplings.  It was just a day of humbling, for me.

As I got ready to walk out the door, the rain picked up and fell with the most force of the day.  Evening came early, with the dense clouds blanketing the sky and so it was almost dark as I traveled the back roads.  I did see a few deer, but they were in the fields, grazing safely, out of harms’ way. 

The supper was enjoyable, even without the string beans – and even though the dumplings weren’t at all attractive.  Mamas’ roast was tender and the cornbread was golden and crispy.  Of course, every meal is better when shared with loved ones.

It was pitch dark, when I drove back to the rabbitpatch.  Thank goodness, the “creeks didn’t rise” while I was out, though they might, shortly.   The forecast calls for rain again tomorrow, after all.  The countryside was  so quiet.  Silvery fog hung thick over the fields and covered up the stars, without a bit of mercy.  Then there were the stretches of the journey through the woods . I thought of all the beauty this world affords us, as I drove along, for mist over woodlands is a thing of beauty.  A lifetime is just not long enough to take it all in.   

At last, I reached the friendly lights of the rabbitpatch, and stepped out of that magical, silent world into  the presence of a joyful dog, celebrating my return, the way all dogs do.  . .then I called Mama to let her know that I was home “safe and sound”.   Another thing of beauty . . .is to be loved.

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