And a Laughing River Tumbles By


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What beautiful memories I am collecting during these days by the sea.  The sun comes up in a “blaze of glory”  to start the day.  There are no old trees to cast shade, and so the light gilds everything in gold.  The sand sparkles, and the water glistens as much as any opal ever dared to.  That is what the morning looks like.

By noon, the sun is the color of butter and the ocean along the shore is a pale jade that steadily increases in depth, til it is aqua, then turquoise and at last a cobalt blue where it meets the horizon.  

Lyla is not fooled by the call of the happy ocean to come and play.  She gazes as I do, and is every bit as charmed, but keeps a safe distance, from the churning, beckoning water.  Lyla digs in the sand and draws pictures with her little fingers.  She lays sea shells out in patterns and is constantly filling her buckets with sand, only to dump them in a few moments, and start again.  She is working – and takes it very seriously.  No matter how “toys” have changed, childhood remains the same.  Children love to play in dirt, no matter the variety of it.  It is a reassuring fact for me. 

I feel the same way about the sand, as I do the delicate shells.  Maybe it takes a thousand colors to make a handful of sand and no scoop is the same as another.  The shore changes with the crest of every wave, and every gust of the constant sea breeze.  In this way, the sea is always a modern landscape, yet remains ancient, as well.  

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On Tuesday, the sisters came – Miss Claudias’ sisters, Julia and Mary Ruth.  Mary Ruths’ daughter, Missy came too.  I always enjoy gatherings with the sisters as they are a lively and friendly lot.  It does my heart a world of good to see a loving family, in action.  They tell stories of remembered times and what a treasury they have collected.  We have been hearing about the breakdown of the “American family” for a long while and sadly, it has some truth. . .but in the case of these sisters, they are doing their part to rid the world of such “speculation”.  I think what this will mean for Lyla.  I hope Lyla will hear their stories and will one day,  know them by heart, for they are her stories too, really.  I think it is a wonderful realization, to know all the love that brought us to life.   

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Brant and Sydney came on Thursday.  Brant is my oldest child.  How good it was to see the ocean with him too.  Brant has been working on the rabbit patch  and made all sorts of progress.  He had barely got his things unpacked, when he started on a few projects here, at the cottage.  This is his way.  Brant loves to help others in whatever way he can. Wherever he lives, the senior neighbors find out he will carry their groceries in or move heavy furniture.  I do not take this lightly.  Very few people truly devote their life to giving to others, and do not need praise nor recognition .  Very few people tackle humble tasks with such zeal, for the sheer satisfaction of serving others.  It is a form of nobility and nothing less.  

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Though the cottage hosted a full house -(there were eight of us in all), it never felt crowded to me.  Lyla followed her cousin Mia, around like a mid day shadow.  Miss Claudia nearly glowed, at having  both of her children, Will and Mary, under the same roof.  At times, we were all together, and at times we were quite separate.  It was a nice balance and the time flew by as it always does, when you are having fun.

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Friday came quickly to me . . .and with it, a “schedule”.  Brant and Sydney left early, for they both had to go back to work.  I immediately missed them and started feeling that something beautiful was ending.  After breakfast, everyone gathered their things.  The coffee canister was empty and I had all but finished reading my book.  Both events  seemed fitting, given it was our last morning there. The refrigerator was cleaned out,  cars were loaded and good byes were said .  

Soon we were back in the world, where yards were green and had  old  shade trees.  . . . and a laughing river tumbled by.   Zinnias brightened the  sidewalks  and ever so often  there was a roadside stand, selling things like cucumbers and watermelons.  Rain clouds had gathered overhead as Jenny had said they would.  The air no longer smelled of salt but held the familiar, sweet, green smell of inland summer. .. and I supposed, somewhere, someone was frying pork chops.    

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Sand and Sea


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The last few days have been a “far cry” from the usual routine of most of my days.  On Saturday, Jenny, Lyla and I left the ” inland” to spend a week at the beach.  Will and Miss Claudia were just behind us and carrying as many provisions as we were.  A lot of things happen in a week, so we all packed accordingly.

Elizabeth City is less than a hour from the Atlantic Ocean. Miss Claudias’ sister, Mary Ruth,  has a cottage that she invites us to use and for the last two years we have taken full advantage of this wonderful gift. . . of days spent by the sea.

What a different world lies, just a short ways off, from the rabbit patch.  First, there is the ocean, vast and powerful.  It roars and the earth roars with it.  As far as one can see, there is water and we are apt to imagine the distant shores beyond .  I imagine sending a greeting to my dear friend, Cobs, who lives just across the ocean.  I wonder , what if the clouds passing by could tell me what they had seen as they drifted along. I look at the shells scattered in the sand, and collect a few, to keep for an hour or so.  I will toss them back to their rightful home, before I leave.  As I examine them and feel their slick surface, smoothed by the ages, I ponder who else might have held this same shell and where did they come across it?  The ocean stirs up thoughts, as well as sand.  

It does me good to know there are some mysteries left and will always remain, in this world.7a11c5a4e0e8fd691a7e8fb8d1bb7efe

The “early service”, by the sea,  does not include robins and mockingbirds, nor roses, nor rabbits.  I have had the company of a lovely, but shy, tuxedo cat.  He watches   me from a distance, and seems curious . . .but does not venture an inch closer, on any given day.  He seems to be at home everywhere, but nowhere in particular.  There are noisy gulls and little sandpipers gliding on the ocean breeze. Their announcement of morning seems more like an alarm, than a song. 

There are no lawns, at least by my definition of a lawn. Sand is everywhere .   Wild grasses grow in  wispy patches and are always doubled over by the constant wind .  There are some stalwart flowers, that manage to bloom, in the sandy soil .  There are the brightly colored “Joe Bells”, named for a sea captain, who loved them enough to strew seeds as he traveled the coast decades ago.  The lantana flowers bloom too and seem to thrive.  These flowers must be quite versatile, for they also grow in the shade, along the edge of the young woods at the rabbit patch.  I am very partial to the lantana. The blossoms are clusters of multicolored little flowers in lavender, pink and yellow at the rabbit patch, and have a citrusy, spicy scent.  They bloom from late spring to  the first hard frost, whether you fuss over them or not.

Kites fly everywhere here, almost on their own.  I see them tied, to porches, unattended and left to their own devices.  Lyla loves the kites, especially. Beach towels, in every hue, flap wildly, strung on makeshift lines, hanging on for dear life. On the shore, there is  a trail of umbrellas in the  brightest shades of every color.  . .  and it does not matter which direction you go, you are likely to see cottages in colors like salmon, turquoise or mint green. What a colorful place! . . . even in the absence of roses.

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Having grown up on a farm, I learned how to cook pork, beef and chicken a variety of ways.  I have always been satisfied with plenty of fresh vegetables as side dishes served with a slow cooked roast, yet at the beach, it seems I ought to be frying fish and potatoes.  I think of what sauces could be concocted with fresh dill and lemon.  One day, this week, I will try a recipe using oranges  and coconut, that is a family recipe, from  Miss Claudia.  I think it is the salt air that puts such notions in my head, for the salt air has a specific scent. It  will be the first indication, that you are approaching the coast.  Chances are, you will smell the ocean, before you see it.

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A typical day here varies, depending on who you are. Will and Jenny take Lyla to the beach every day, not long after breakfast.  The afternoons are for napping or in my case, reading.  Often, Will and Jenny take Lyla to some activity designed for tourists with children, in the later afternoon.  I opted to decline any invitation, unless it involves ice cream or bakeries.  Meals are light , though I am itching to “leave my mark” on this kitchen.  Bacon and eggs just aren’t satisfying and sandwiches aren’t either, for such a domestic heart.

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The short walk to the shore is hot.  The sand burns your feet, so you must wear shoes.  Only a few families share the beach with us, but in the distance it looks like a “state fair” in either direction.  I like to walk down the shore.  I declare a landmark, so I can keep my bearings straight, for at the ocean, distance is as sly as time.  If I am in a dreamy state, as I walk, I am liable to walk further than I meant, for there is the long trek back, to consider. . .and truthfully I am always in a dreamy state at the ocean.

I do not believe my brain can perform a single calculation, while I am gazing at the ocean.  I can not think about my “shoestring budget”  or selling the rabbit patch.  It is  as if a force of nature, such as an ocean, keeps you suspended in the moment.  As I walk the path, where the ocean meets land, not a single thought will pop in my head.  I notice the little shells and feel the cool spray of the  heaving, curled ocean water.  I listen to the  waves colliding with the earth.  I look at the sky and note what sort of clouds are present,  but that is it.  . .as far as my awareness goes.  I am completely and thoroughly in a very “unworldly”  trance “. 

It is odd and beautiful,  to traipse a crowded beach and yet feel such solitude.  For  while I tread through  sand and sea, I  have no questions .   . .and that may just be the purest form of peace.

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Tuesday – Wednesday, at the Rabbit Patch


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Today, started out beautifully.  It isn’t as cool as it has been, but it is pleasant.  It is July in the south, after all.  In the peace of a lovely morning, I got a phone call.  The home inspector would be here around noon.  There are tools and paint in several rooms and there is a spot in the floor, in the process of being repaired.  Of course, there is also the absence of any sign of housekeeping.  The grass needs mowing, too. 

I have never dealt with a home inspector.  I am sure he is a nice person, but he sounds mighty official to me.  Jenny says he may spend the afternoon and will look high and low for all sorts of issues.  That is the way she comforted me.  She said also, that inspectors were there to help.  I decided to take her word on that.  Brant moaned, when I told him and quickly called out to God.

Since, the rabbit patch was in total disarray, I started back on painting the kitchen.  It was the only course of action that made sense to me.  I had completed the ceiling around midnight.  With the ceiling such a clean, stark white, the walls looked dingy, so I decided to paint the walls-and that meant the cabinets, too. 

At some point, I had to laugh at the irony.  Just a month ago, I was quite proud of the rabbit patch.  Everything in place, closets and cabinets orderly-even all those wretched barns.  The lawn was tidy.  Flowers were blooming and birds were singing.  . . That was a short lived affair.

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Brant had an appointment and Christian high tailed it out of here, as he is every bit as terrified of official anything, as I am.  I was on my own -and I felt stranded.  I knew then and there, that we were having left overs for supper.

 

As it turns out, the inspector was a friendly fellow.  He was not wearing a badge and he chatted like a “regular” person.  He went his way and I went mine . . .back to painting the kitchen.  Hours later,  he drove off, telling me not to worry and that he “really liked this place”. . . .that I call “a Rabbit Patch”.

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I spent the afternoon finishing the kitchen.  It did make a nice difference and I was glad I had persevered.  When Kyle came in, I asked him to please remove that ladder from the kitchen and far away from my sight.  Now there was the clean up to get started on.

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It was drizzling rain at the early service on Wednesday.  It has been a while since it rained here and I was up for a rainy day.  Housekeeping sounded delightful to me, after climbing a ladder for two days.   Besides that, the rabbit patch is not “out of the woods” just yet,  as  this is the early stages of a complicated process. I expect more official visits in the future.  What a lot of business!   Selling a house is not for the faint of heart. . . in a lot of ways. 

While I scrubbed the kitchen floor, I remembered the merry days of times past at the rabbit patch.  Once upon a time, the many bedrooms were full.  The kitchen table was bigger.  The barn housed miniature goats and a miniature horse.  There were chickens and rabbits.  That was a special season,   but the sons grew up,(as sons do) Grandmama passed and a hurricane turned the chicken house  over.   One thing happened and then another, til at last the present circumstances prevailed. 

 Though, I love remembering,  I knew it best not to dwell too long on how things used to be.  It is an awful habit of mine.  I can not bear to look at old photographs for very long, for I will inevitably sink in to mourning.  Knowing full well, my typical behavior, I let my thoughts wander instead, to what might be next.  I hoped for a little cottage that would be lovely at Christmas.  I thought of a yard that did not require a tractor, to mow.  I wondered a lot, as I scrubbed.  One thing I knew, whenever and wherever I go, I will plant flowers.

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Eventually, the floor was clean and the kitchen was fit to cook in.  I did get a fair share of housework done.  As I was folding laundry, I thought,  the present moments were beautiful,  just as they were.   . . .They always have been.

   

 

 

“Tomorrow is Another Day”


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I must say it again . . .it is chilly at the rabbit patch!  Last night, I went out to see the sky as I can not stay away from the view.  There was Venus, bold and stunning.  Jupiter was bright  and with them thousands of stars .  I saw “where the dog ran” and I saw a shooting star.  It was absolutely fantastic and I was sorry for anyone that missed it.  I have never seen a summer night sky in sixty degrees, in all of my life.  I inhaled deeply to see the effects of this air, on the scents known only to summer.  I was reluctant to go in, for the unfamiliar beauty was surely some spectacular fluke and it beckoned to me with a lovely persuasion.

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How lovely  it  was to wake to the cool of the morning.  I half expected to smell a faint whiff of wood smoke!  The early service was especially  brief as today, the long awaited roof project was on the agenda.  Though, the leak was fixed, months ago, the cosmetics had never been addressed, hence a bright blue tarp alerted the public, that  we were a procastinating lot . . or just plain lazy.  

While Brant and Christian worked on the roof, I started sanding the kitchen ceiling.  It is a messy job and my arm started aching within the first twenty minutes. Every time, I took a break, the silence tattled about it.  Finally,  when the end was just in sight, the contraptions’ battery died.  That is when I came into my own, for I started supper.

How pleasant it was to slice the yellow squash and onions.  This is one of our favorite dishes -and so are green tomatoes.  Green tomatoes are hard to come by, unless you have a garden.  Very rarely, you can get them in at a farmers’ market.  Last year, a locally run grocery carried them, but only  on occasion, so your best bet is to grow them.  Mama and my sister, Connie, each gave me some this week and so the boys will have a generous helping of them tonight.

It felt like reliving times past. . .once again cooking for my children on an ordinary day.  Supper has always been a special time, for me.  We always ate as a family.  Only pleasant conversation  was allowed  and it was limited to happy subjects.  Supper was not the time to tell bad news or to quarrel.  I still feel the same way about that.  I would rather eat late than break that rule, to this day. 

Another fact is, the cook ought not to be angry while preparing the meal, or else all will suffer.  Biscuits are likely not to rise, and the chicken may burn.  I have heard this from experienced cooks and have proved the theory true myself.  I suspect there is some science that could explain it.  . .but, whether it is fact or fiction . . it is best not to upset the cook and most especially, if you want gravy.

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Tuesday was another cool morning.  I have heard the coolness will not linger much longer.  I am happy for every moment thus far.  What a reprieve it has been, from the oppressive, southern heat. 

I all but missed the early service this morning.  What fragment  of it, I did attend was absolutely glorious.  Who can not love a cool bright morning?  The world is full of hope, in the morning.

I was painting a corner of the ceiling, before eight.  I still had a bit of sanding left.  I have learned that I do not like ceiling work in general.  The sanding is awful, as I noted yesterday.  I dislike it more now than I did then.  Painting is almost as bad.   . .and there is the ladder.  Climbing up and down a ldder completes the weariness.  I am sorry to say, I was quite grumpy and  had to take great pains to remedy that. 

Brant and Christian, however, had renewed vitality – and youth, to start their morning chore.  Neither of them seemed the least bit worse, for the wear and tear of yesterday.  Brant walked around the house and pointed out several more projects that needed tending to . . .and quite happily, I might add.  He is the most tireless individual, I have ever met.   I am confident, Brant could have “built Rome, in a day”, if just given the chance.

By noon,  the boys were hungry and I was glad to have a valid reason to get off the ladder.  I did need to go to the grocery as we were dangerously low on coffee and completely out of milk.   I decided to bring back lunch, too. 

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The break did me good, and somehow I mustered the strength to start again. The boys ran into a setback on the roof right as it was near completion.  They were both disappointed as they had hoped to finish today.  They decided to start again tomorrow .    There was a trailer of debris that needed to go to a landfill.  The thing had been here as long as that awful tarp and  a tire had gone flat, in the meanwhile.  The boys went about fixing the tire and then drove off, satisfied they were at least accomplishing this task.   I was so glad to see the empty spot where the trailer had lived.

 Meanwhile, I returned to the cluttered kitchen.  It was quite disheartening to see the kitchen littered with tools, rags,  paint .  . .and a ladder. I had gotten a lot done, I told myself.  Brant and Christian returned within an hour with the trash in tow.  The landfill was closed.  I did not like seeing my sons disappointed for the second time, this day. . .but I  was very careful to remain cheerful, as it was too close to supper to risk a poor disposition. . . for all our sake.   . .and  “Tomorrow is another day.”

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A North Wind


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Not in my wildest dreams, did I expect an “early service” in July to warrant a light sweater!  I did awaken, earlier than usual but even now, an hour later, it is in the mid sixties (F).  This is all due to a beautiful breeze from the north.  Needless to say, the windows are up in the farmhouse.  

With the mid week holiday, and it being summer, I must make great effort to keep “my bearings” straight.  I hope that “Sunday Dinner” will reset my internal clock, for the last three days, have all felt like “Saturday”.  If it were not for bills, I would no doubt, remain blissfully ignorant of the passage of months.  I know it is early July, and that satisfies me . . .and that is what I would answer if someone asked me the time, though if hard pressed, I may say something like “it is just after supper”.

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Since the breeze coming in the kitchen windows,  could be likened to the earliest days of autumn, I decided to bake a meatloaf and have the cheese biscuits, that Mama loves.  Both require an oven and I avoid such meals when it is so very hot.  When I had pots simmering and the meatloaf baking, I decided to cut a few more branches, that were bothering a young cherry tree.  When I came in, the pots were boiling, Thoreau had come out of the woods and “Mr. Collins was proposing to Elizabeth”,  -for I was watching  Pride and Prejudice and reading passages, just enough to ponder, while I concocted the meatloaf.  

I am always doing several things at once. My sister Connie is the same.  Her husband Mike told a story, that he was working on a project that required heavy lifting and realised he needed a certain tool.  Connie took off to get it for him.  Mike waited and waited  some more until he finally stopped and went to look for Connie.  She was weeding a flower bed.

It always amuses me to think that the same traits, we bear can be at times a shining strength and at other times a weakness.  When I listen to a sermon, I have to constantly reign my thoughts back to the subject.  Otherwise, I’ m thinking about making gravy for the roast to be served or letting the dog out, the moment I return.  Even lengthy, group prayers are difficult, for I start on my own prayer and end up missing what we were collectively asking for.  It also happens when I am painting a room or mowing.  I have several areas going at once, which really is less harmful than missing a sermon. Yet, when my five children were young, it was quite a strength to handle the many necessities that showed up all at once and every job I have ever had, required the ability to jump from one thing to another. 

There are a few things that allow me to focus deeply.  A canvas, a sonata and a good book are some of them. 

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Sunday Dinner, which is served at mid day, on the rabbit patch, was a nice time.  Mama and Daddy came and we took a short walk outside afterwards.  I could not believe the way the wind was sweeping across the yard  and the coolness of it was another shock.  I do not ever remember such a cool spell in July. . .and I will not forget this one anytime soon.

Sunday dinner never gets old to me.  How can gathering around a table, laden with  savory dishes,  and loved ones in every chair, ever be anything but “golden” ?  Such moments make gratitude well up in my heart like a  happy fountain.

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After Mama and Daddy left, I went in with the intention of writing in the Rabbit patch Diary.  I was asleep in a very short while.  It was a good, deep, sleep and I have no idea how long it was.  I woke up very disappointed to have wasted such an unusual afternoon.  I used to never nap, in the broad daylight!  That has not been the case for almost a year now.  If I eat a hearty meal . . .and then attempt to read . . and a window fan hums lazily .  . . I am  more likely to take a nap, than Lyla.

I did go back to the edge of the young woods, and waged war again with the vines and bracken til at last, I declared victory.  . .  and  I have the battle scars to prove it too.  

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“Where the Dog Ran”


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Every month comes bearing their own unique gifts to the season. I thought of that, this morning, at the “early service”, for I found myself having a sense of dread, to open the back door. The heat of July drains me and then there are the mosquitoes. I am not the only one that complains, for the geraniums do too.  So does the periwinkle.  Both need sunshine to thrive, but neither can stand much of it . . .in July.  I move the pots around several times a day.  It is a sad sight to see them wilt or wearing scorched leaves. 

 I would love to plan a garden party, but it would be about impossible to enjoy a delicate sandwich and berries, without the fear of swallowing a fly, in July.  I will wait for September, I think, in that case.  

 I always blame July, when I can not get the clothes to dry on the line.  Still and humid air are not ideal conditions for drying clothes. Even sheets, take longer than usual, but there is nothing that beats sleeping on sheets that carry the faint scent of the outdoors. . . .especially when the mimosa blooms.

With this poor attitude, I went out to the early service.  The morning air was cool enough,  . . and there were butterflies making their morning rounds.  The locusts were singing as if they were performing a cantata. (these are not the locusts that destroy crops) This  winged chorus is always reserved for July.  It is an echoing song that I have heard since childhood.  I had forgotten that butterflies flock to the rabbit patch in July . . .and that the locusts sing too.

Already, I was regretting my former notions, for next I remembered cucumbers, tomatoes . . .and sweet corn. I can not deny that  the creamy cucumber salad gives July  some clout amongst the months.  Corn picked, shucked in the shade of an old tree and eaten in a few hours , never tastes any better, than in July.  Maybe, my favorite is the yellow summer squash, for I could eat them three times a day. 

The Black eyed Susans, light up a corner in the “Quiet Garden”, now.  They were not invited, for I really wanted a garden for roses only.  But one July, years ago, they showed up.  Now, they claim a large corner, and somehow convinced their cousins, the rudbekias to join them. 

These things persuade me to make amends with  July, . . .but it is still too hot for a garden party.

fa4e30bbae862f3dafc0bb7857c56460 I could not mow, as it seems the mower now, needs a new belt.  Instead, I cut the lower branches on the sycamores and dragged them to the burn pile.  I cleaned the front porch and then moved inside.  Reluctantly I started scraping the paint from the kitchen ceiling.  I do not mind most tasks, but ceilings are my least favorite.  Besides standing on a ladder, there is the neck to consider and all the while a terrible mess collects on the floor.

    There is always something to do on the rabbit patch, but at night when I saw *”Where the dog ran”  streak the night sky, I felt privileged. . .after all, you had to be in the country . . .and it had to be  a clear night in July, to have seen it.

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 On Friday, the blessed rain came.  It all started with a strong wind.  I went out and stood in it.  I brought Cash, knowing he would take to running around the territory for he always does when the wind gusts so.  The wind was bold and cool.  It stirred up the apple mint and the smell of it was everywhere.  In the country you can smell rain and  see it coming across the fields.  I stood there mesmerized watching the wind rush through the trees.  Cash bolted  about enjoying the event of a summer storm.  When small droplets began to fall, Cash and I hurried for the back door.   

For some reason, I did not mind returning to the task at hand -which, of course, was the kitchen ceiling. Cash napped lightly on the floor, as he frequently had to dodge the falling debris.  Christopher Robin, the royal cat, napped unconcerned and out of harms’ way, which is his habit.

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On Saturday, the effects of the rain could still be felt on the territory.  It was a cool morning and overcast.  Not long after the early service, I cut the hateful thorned vines that were attacking some azaleas in the shady corner.  I picked up a few branches, the wind had loosened and then went back in to the ceiling. 

When at last, that was finished, I planned to be a genteel lady,  for at least a little while, who spent her time painting, with shades of lavender –  or reading fine literature. To appease my notion, I painted a lamp a faint hue of lilac.  I am drawn the palest forms of color.   I always think yellow is my least favorite color, until I come face to face with it, in an almost, yellow rose.  Then I am hooked and declare it as beautiful as any other color. 

The little lamp cheered the mantle up and I was pleased. Next, I read some passages by Thoreau.  Thoreau wrote like a poet and I never fail to profit from his journals .  However,   as much as I enjoy, solitude, I do not  desire to live in the woods, with the pines as my only company.   I could stand it for a while, and probably enjoy it, but not for years.   Still, if there was ever a human that was brave enough to live his own truth, it was Thoreau. . .and I place great stock in that. 

A light rain fell steadily with only slight pauses. On one such interval, Cash, Christopher Robin  and I took a quick walk out, to the edge of the young woods.  There in the bracken, I found a pink rose-of -Sharon, blooming and nearly choked by wild grape vines.  Every other rose- of -Sharon on the rabbit patch is purple, so the bright pink blossoms surprised me.  I went to work to cut the vines away and the bush bobbed and bowed with each cut from the dull trimmers.  The rain came before I finished, but the bush had more liberty than before. I promised the young plant, I would return when conditions were better.

  I felt like a “fair weather friend”, as I  hurried back to the house, in the case of  the pink rose -of Sharon . . . .and in the case of July.

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*”Where the dog ran” or the “way the dog ran”  is the name the Cherokee  gave to the Milky Way.

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

  

A Bit of Business and a lot of Pleasure


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The “early service” on Tuesday morning was a peaceful affair.  A very slight breeze brought the faint smells of summer, with it.  Someone had cut their grass and that scent mingled with the  mimosa blossoms, loaned a sweet, green fragrance to the air.  I heard the song of the tanagers, but they were well hidden, being so shy.  I startled a squirrel and he made a frantic dash to the young woods.  Country squirrels are not social like their city cousins.  Country squirrels stay in the woods.  The only way you know about them, is when you find half eaten apples or  pansys tossed array, missing their roots . . .or you get up mighty early.

It was a beautiful morning, but my stomach hurt, for today I had an “appointment”.  Today, I had to renew my  drivers license .  I should have done it in April – a year ago, when they expired.  I realized this sometime in June.  I kept putting it off, as is my nature.  It is an awful habit of mine.  I will plan a Sunday dinner, a week ahead of time and I have the “Christmas Closet”  bumping full of secrets.  We do not run out of things like butter, at the rabbit patch either.  It makes no sense to me why I wait months past the last minute to attend to business. . .so the peace of the morning escaped me, altogether.  

All morning, I moped about.  Jenny called but, had no sympathy and chided me, for my strange behavior about such a simple task.  She did not call to cheer me up, but instead to deliver grave warnings full of doom, should I back out.  

Not long after noon, I got ready.  I had not eaten a bite all day.  I took a book along, one of my favorites, for I would surely collapse in that official environment, where rules are posted on every inch of the walls.  I needed a distraction.  When I walked in, uniformed folks were everywhere.  Their friendly greetings did not fool me.  These people love regulations and legalities and were liable to pounce, at any given moment.  I took a seat and began reading. All of a sudden, a thought flashed in my head – What if the car wouldn’t start when it was all over?  Maybe I had locked the keys in the car ?  Oh, to be stranded there would just finish me.  I found my keys and quickly went back inside my book,(where there were meadows surrounded by laurel) determined not to panic .

When my number was called, I walked stoically to the examiner.  He was a young fellow and quite polite, but I was sure that would change in due time. He looked at my license and we talked about something (I can not remember what) as he typed away.  In several minutes – or a year – he asked me to sign my name, for my renewed license. I did so, in shock.  Then he asked me to date it.  I was so surprised at the ease of the process, that I had to ask the date . . now he looked shocked and said “July 3rd” in a matter of fact manner – at that moment I remembered our “small talk” was about the fourth of July.  I felt very unpatriotic. Still,I walked out with my license.  I wanted to run, in case I got called back.  But alas, I walked out  in freedom, and the car started up, as it always does.

I am quite sure, I suffer from some sort of condition.  I truly am not a nervous sort at all.  In complicated times, I am known to remain calm and level headed . . .but,  I will probably do the same thing again,  when the property taxes are due.

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The fourth of July dawned clear and mild.  I had a banana cream cake in the oven, in the first hours, for a picnic at my sister, Connies’ house at the lake.  Connie has always had a large gathering on the fourth.  Lake Phelps is one of the most beautiful bodies of water I have ever seen.  The water is crystal clear revealing a clean sandy bottom.  It is a shallow lake and perfect for swimming and fishing. 

At the last minute, I decided to make a sauce for the hotdogs.  It is really a rue and does not take long. It is mustard based and folks  either love it or hate it.  I grabbed a mixture  of lemongrass  and eucalyptus oils, just in case of flying, biting pests, which can ruin a picnic.  I also grabbed a book, for I always take one with me.  By the time Mama and Daddy drove up, the basket was packed . . . but my hair was soaking wet and there was no time to dry it.

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The lake is only about forty minutes from the rabbit patch.  There was sunshine and a steady breeze blowing.  We sat under Mike and Connies’ huge picnic shelter.  They had a very large fan blowing, which cooled and kept the insects at bay. I thought, how nice and practical, to have such a fan.  The children played in the lake.  Mike manned a large grill and Connie ran the kitchen.  Connie is used to cooking for large groups and wasn’t a bit bothered. The food was ready, right about the time it started to rain.  No one cared about the rain, for we were eating wonderful food and were “high and dry”.  

When everyone was full to the brim, the sun came out again.  Little boys splashed in puddles while the older children headed back to the lake.  I enjoyed visiting with Mikes’family, who I claim as my own, as well.  Who knew, years ago that Stephanie and I would become “fast friends” and  kindred to the core  – and that her son, Zane would have such a special place in my heart.  Then there is Mikes’ mom, Miss Louise who seems like a very dear aunt.  She cheers me on, and never fails to encourage me.  A picnic is seldom anything but pure fun and today was proof of that.

  Tonight, fireworks rang through the countryside, for several neighbors went to great lengths  and put on quite a show.  Cash, my boxer did not like it a bit.  He pricked his ears up and  trotted all over the house, unsure of what danger the racket indicated.  Christopher Robin, my cat,  sought cover and bid us all good luck, but  he make it very clear that”we were on our own”.

When the last of the fireworks were over and the familiar silence restored,  Cash settled in, having been totally exhausted, in his effort to guard the farmhouse, at any cost.  Later, Christopher Robin sauntered out and joined him.  

Now tomorrow, I will tend to cobwebs, for spiders are  relentless creatures .  . .and the yard needs  mowing.  There is always laundry.  There is always a floor to scrub . The picnic basket will be put away, for a short while  . . .for if all does well . .  . I will use that basket again, soon . .  .on the banks of the “laughing river”.  

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