For days, rain has fallen on the rabbit patch. The sun managed to bring a golden glow to the early service, and that was lovely. It was a quiet time as not even the mockingbird sang. The air was as still as it has ever been. I thought “Silence is golden” this morning.
After coffee, I went straightaway to the storage unit, which is on the property. This is where Christmas decorations and boxes of trophies my four sons earned in decades of soccer, are stored. There are a lot of other things, too. This is the same barn that housed the second broken washing machine. I sorted through boxes and found some useful items for donation. There was a new toaster amongst other things. I quickly had a collection suitable for donation. I can only work in short spurts there, as I am apt to find something I have attached a memory to and stop to cry, a bit. I have always been sentimental. The hardest job ahead of me, is removing the rack of my paternal grandmothers’clothes. They are in pristine condition and ought to be in someones’ closet. I attempted this a few days ago without success. I know for certain, that my grandmother would chide me for such foolish behavior-and it does seem sinful, to withhold such nice things, that another may need. Yet, when I hold the dress she wore to Christians’ baptism or a sweater she always wore at Christmas, I lose all sensibility and weep. There isn’t a bit of logic in this, except that I am very, very human with a very tender heart. Kyle and Christian are no better candidates for this than I am and if they cry . . .well, I will “take to the bed”.
In the Afternoon
By noon, everything had been collected and loaded. I had worked mechanically and made good progress. When, all was said and done, I realized how easy it had been to give the pretty china away, after all.
Kyle rode with me to drop off the many boxes. It is a short ride down country roads to the church, where I sometimes donate. In late fall, the church hosts the biggest yard sale in eastern North Carolina. The money raised is used to put on an outdoor drama that is quite impressive. There is no admission fee and folks come from out of state to see it.
The countryside told a late summer story, as I drove through it. It was illustrated with warm colored grasses wearing crowns of seeds. The leaves on the trees were a dark green, unlike the light jade leaves in June. The still air rendered the trees stoic statues , on this day. Here and there bright yellow wildflowers bloomed and many of the wild southern vines sported plum colored leaves. These are the clocks I abide by. . . and they say it is late summer ,
It is supposed to rain today and the next several, as well. I start work on Thursday. Thankfully, the tasks left to complete at the rabbit patch are manageable. Of course, I plan to cook and to finish Alcotts’ “Calico Bush”. If all goes well, there will be an old classic film to watch. . .or several. I am debating about whether or not to paint the living room. Of course, it is a large room . . . with a high ceiling. In addition to a mild case of impetigo, fire ant bites and scratches from some hateful thorns, I will probably return to school with paint in my hair, too.
Dear Diary, I am glad for silence and golden light. I am glad that the earth reminds us to be still and I am glad for a grandmother, that lived-and loved well.
On Friday Morning
The sky is brightening as I write this. The “early service” was especially quiet this morning. A mockingbird sang a solo. It was the only sound in the countryside. Christopher Robin sat quietly, almost reverently, beside me, while the little bird sang. Light fell gentle, like a wafting feather, on the rabbit patch. Last night, there was a pink circle around the moon, I remembered. It is going to rain today.
Yesterday, I painted another closet. It made such a difference in the guest room, that I couldn’t resist doing the same for the linen closet. I continue to accumulate things to donate. I took two boxes yesterday to a near by church. It is quite easy to share, when you don’t need or really want something. In fact, I am happy to be rid of the most things, I have given away. How easy to be a “cheerful giver” in my circumstances. I was cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, when I came upon my “dessert china” It is in a beautiful floral pattern, suitable for an autumn occasion. I came upon it in a thrift store years ago. I did not purchase the set off, but instead admired it for months, The store owner noticed and gave me the history of “dessert china.” It seems, in the fifties, women were apt to have a notion to make a cake or pie. Friends were invited to gather for coffee and dessert. An Article in ” Good Housekeeping” confirmed this. I fell in love with the idea. I bought the set, then and there. This all happened about ten years ago. I have probably used it a half-a-dozen times. There it sat, occupying an entire cabinet. Still, I bartered with myself about whether to keep it or not. (I have a weakness for books . . and china.) I thought of something a dear friend told me, once. She said “Think that sometimes, we are meant to enjoy something for a while, and then to pass that opportunity, on to someone else.” I took comfort in that truth, and so I mustered the courage to wrap the china carefully, for someone else. It dawned on me, that maybe this was really, the first item, I had “given”. It felt quite different, than donating the extra blender. Right there, in the humble abode of the rabbit patch kitchen, I learned something of great value.
In the afternoon, a kind neighbor came by with fresh okra and other vegetables. She came with best wishes for my progress. She did not want any credit for her generosity-but she is the one who grows beautiful flowers.
It was raining today, shortly after the “early service”-just as the moon said it would. I decided to get my many spices in proper order. Since I love to cook, I have large quantities of spices stored in mason jars with pretty labels . . .of course this task led to the cabinet beside it , where teas and coffees are stored.
I am hoping today, the washing machine, delivered yesterday will get hooked up. I never let my laundry pile up. There are now three heaps of it! It disheartens me to see it-so I just don’t look at it. I do not glance to the left of the back door, either, as that is where the two broken machines are sitting in the yard. ..and right by a yellow rose bush and a patch of elegant ginger lilies.
It is just past noon now, and still the rain falls steadily. Ever so often thunder is heard in the distance. It is a friendly sound, without a bit of malice. Whenever, there is a day such as this, I remember my grandmama saying “I love you like rain”.
In the Afternoon
By four o’clock, I had eliminated the need of five cabinets in the kitchen- and a pot of soup was simmering for supper. By four -thirty, I had also washed a load of clothes. Oh how sweet the event of every cycle, was to me. Maybe, “the third time is a charm” after all. My next goal, is to get the two sitting in the yard, off the property.
The soup was especially good. I think the fresh okra, from the lady who grows beautiful flowers, flavored it nicely and paired well with the fresh corn, another main ingredient. Even a pot of soup reflects the season.
I went out tonight, to a very dark territory. The light left in the same manner it came . . . without fanfare. I love when light changes, no matter in what fashion. I felt I was standing in a jungle as the frogs and crickets were carrying on so. The night choir was in perfect rhythm . It seemed like the trees were singing. How many members of this choir are there, I wondered. It was quite mesmerizing, standing there in total darkness with the steady beat filling the air-I expected to go in to a trance at any minute. I said good night , just in case and went in. I had clothes to wash clothes, after all.
Dear Diary, I am glad that greatness can show up anywhere. I am glad for the lesson about giving , shown to me, in the rabbit patch kitchen. I am glad for kind neighbors. I am glad for rain . . . and I am glad for nights when it seems like the trees are singing.
It is now the last week of my summer break, For more than a decade, I have spent the last week of summer, putting the rabbit patch in good order. I am not as likely to clean a barn out or paint anything, once I go back to work. This year, however is not the usual affair. I have turned the rabbit patch “every which way but loose”, this summer. Surely, this week would be fairly easy compared to every one before it. The only thing left on my agenda, was to paint two closets in a guest bedroom- and to mow the territory . . again. I consider these chores “childs’ play” and so I did not not work too much on Monday.
On Tuesday, I started early. I had the covered picnic area quite tidy before nine, of course, there were a few items piled in the yard, to be donated or discarded. I went in ready to paint, and thought to put on a load of laundry. It started to rain and I thought it would be a good day for a slow cooked supper, and made plans to do so. I had been painting the closets a good while, when I thought to check the clothes. They were there in the machine, in the same state they were when I left them. There was water, but the machine was not agitating. I tried every trick I knew of with not a bit of luck. I had an extra machine in storage and thought, well there is one more thing to discard now. I went to the pantry to get a pot for the beans-I would still cook a nice meal, after all. I saw on the shelf several jars of something, I had canned in summers past and decided if I couldn’t remember when, I would discard those. Time is such a trickster for me these days. Last year could have been five years ago. I took to cleaning them out and decided while I had the paint out, to touch up the shelves. In just a short while, there were several bags of trash in the kitchen, a washing machine in the yard and a mud in the laundry room. I was shocked at the disarray, but the beans were smelling wonderful and now the chicken chimed in. By supper, all would be well, I thought.
Kyle came home in very muddy clothes. He is a landscaper and it is necessary to never get behind on laundry, on account of that. Kyle immediately hooked the washing machine, from storage up. When the agitator started splashing the water, I was thrilled and started sweeping the pantry floor. Tomorrow, Christian would dispose of the old machine along with the jars of something and I could clean the floor in the laundry room. I put on some potatoes to roast and noticed an eerie silence. The washing machine was not spinning! Kyle tried everything to remedy that, without success. Now there were TWO machines in the yard, mud on the floor and dirty laundry. . . but supper was going to be good.
I confess, that I was cranky in the evening. I went in to the pantry and it was so clean and orderly. I shut the door, without a bit of satisfaction in that- and went out. Clouds covered the shine of the stars. I knew the moon was behind the pines, but I couldn’t prove it, this night. The evening breeze was cool for late summer and it felt good to stand in it. It is almost the time of the ginger lilies. The roses will rally again, as they always do. Apples and figs are starting to ripen, and the grape vines are laden with fruit. Rains’ cousin, fog will blanket the countryside, shortly-and bring a hush, with it. August is a wonderful time.
The wind rustled through the sycamores and it made the pines whisper. I do not know how long I stood there-as neither the pine nor the wind kept time. I only knew it was August. I wondered if when people had disputes, it might help them to come to friendly terms if they spent some time by a river, or in the midst of roses . . or under a pine on a summer evening. Such things take all the fight out of me.
I went back in and I thought, there are worse things things than old appliances sitting in the yard. . .and so, I decided if anyone wanted to come see the house, they could-and I would just tell them, “this really could happen anywhere.”
Dear Diary, I am glad to wait for ginger lilies and late summer fruit. I am glad for an August rain and the song of wind in pines. . . but, I am glad mostly. for the kind and generous Hand that bestows His love in such beautiful ways.
Lyla and I spent the best part of Saturday morning, feeding the wild geese. The geese know who we are now, and scurry to greet us. They come quite close to the stroller and this delights Lyla. The geese are a cautious lot, but Lyla is already well practiced in such matters and observes quietly, as she does with the rabbit community. It was a lovely way to spend one of our last summer mornings . . .this year.
Will and Jenny took Lyla to Miss Claudias’ for a visit and lunch. I stayed home and made peach tea. I had not spent any amount of time with Miss Thelma, Jennys’ neighbor and decided to go see her, bearing gifts. Miss Thelma is ninety three and her husband is ninety six. Miss Thelma always reminds me that her beloved husband, Mr. Ennis is a hero-and by all accounts he is. He served in World War II, and has stories to tell. Mr. Ennis thinks Miss Thelma is beautiful and tells me each time I visit. I always have a lovely visit with them, and this time was no exception. Miss Thelma and I sat at her kitchen table to drink the tea. Her dining room table was full of letters and flower seeds she had collected to send to family and friends. It touched me to see her hand written letters with little bags of promises tucked neatly inside. The kitchen was a fine place to visit and Miss Thelma loved the tea. Miss Thelma has lived in Elizabeth City for more than fifty years. She taught in the schools, for almost forty years. The tea reminded her of of Christmases, long ago, with her best friend, Edith. Miss Thelma said they drank tea together, and ate cheesestraws most every day during the Christmas breaks. I hope to surprise her this year, with tea and cheesestraws, one afternoon in December.
This day, I attended the “morning service” at the rabbit patch. I drove home early, in the morning to prepare for the first official “showing” of the property. I had been in Elizabeth City about ten days-that is a long time to leave two sons tending to things. Alas, all was well with the exception of a few dirty dishes, which is always the case. I went to work straightaway washing those and told Christian to look for cobwebs. . . that is always the case, too. I was quite pleased with the condition of the house and also that not one herb or geranium had perished, in my absence.
As much as I hated leaving Jenny and Lyla, I had missed Kyle and Christian-and my boxer, Cash-and the cats, Christopher Robin and Moon Shine. Our reunions are always sweet and this time, even Christopher Robin did not seem to harbor resentments, as he usually does.
I have never sold a house, through a realtor and had no idea, that I wasn’t suppose to be here, when prospective buyers visit. In the future, I will be nowhere in sight, but on this day, I greeted the family and quickly followed with an apology. They were friendly folks and said they were glad to meet me, after all. I did manage to stay out of their way, mostly.
When it was all over, I came in and explained the process to the boys. I told them that the house and grounds had to remain clean at all times, so we would not “be in a bind” when an appointment arose, in the future. Kyle said, he wanted to move out! It was funny, but the truth is, I am not so sure if either son will move with me. They are certainly old enough and I am sure, neither has had the heart to leave as they feel it would strand me, given the size of the house and property. What a complicated affair as one thing hinges on another, in every circumstance. It makes me quite curious about how all will end up, but thankfully, not fearful. I do not pray in vain-none of us do.
The afternoon was void of details, and that suited me just fine. One of my favorite old movies was on. Holiday Affair, is a Christmas story, and I thought, of Christmas again, as I did with Miss Thelma. I love the Christmas season and it felt pleasant to think of something besides this business of downsizing.
I saw the August moon rise, when I went out to say good night, and it was beautiful. Clouds were sparse, but made quite a production, as they drifted by. The moon shine fell in splashes all over the territory. “giving it the luster of mid day”, I thought. I felt humbled by all of the beauty I am shown. . .and at that moment, nothing seemed complicated, but instead, all sorts of things were possible.
Dear Diary, I am glad for wild geese. I am glad for friends and peach tea. I am glad for reunions after long, happy visits. . . and I am glad to stand in the light of the moon and have my heart well in gratitude for the goodness of such things.
I am still biding time in Elizabeth City, the original “Rabbit Patch”, so named because I am certain, there are more rabbits than people, here. The days pass along sweetly-some sort of beauty unfolding on every one of them. One needn’t have a keen eye nor a sixth sense to find a friendly face, an old fragrant rose or a laughing river. Such things are far from rare, in this town.
Most days, I take Lyla for a walk around the Riverside Village. Lyla remembers where every dog and cat live-and where the rabbits are likely to be. We usually stop at the banks of the river and when we do, a sense pf peace and quiet descends upon us. We watch the river roll by while light twinkles upon it. The river has been very blue, the last few days. It is hard to be concerned about much else, when you are watching a river tumble by.
I am glad for the river and the quiet moments we spend by it. It gives me the fortitude I need in the midst of the commotion , of this season in my life. The rabbit patch is officially up for sale, after all. The summer is waning and by the time the August moon rises, I will be back at work. I have not seen my sons nearly enough to suit me, this summer and I miss them terribly. An Endless Summer is clearly a myth. When my thoughts become jumbled with too many notions, I remind myself of what is constant and steadfast. This consoles me, and so “my heart is not troubled” nor melancholy-but instead joyful at the prospects, for only love is constant and I am not short on that.
Today is my maternal grandmothers’ birthday. I grew up in her presence, and I am not sorry for it. She has been passed over forty years, now. She died quite suddenly in the middle of a cruel night. I was ten years old, and I am just shy of sixty now, yet I remember clearly the details of that July. I loved her so very much, that my eyes still sting, when I remember her. I doubt she ever realised that her influence would remain so mighty. She was after all, a farmers’ wife who collected eggs, watered livestock and kept house. I don’t suppose, she ever considered herself as valuable as she really was-to all of us. How could she have known that those trips to the “Dime Store” would be etched in my memory, and still a delight, decades later? We made cakes if it rained, a long spell. I still do that today. I wonder if she realised that the set of “World Book Encyclopedias” we referred to often, spawned my life long love of learning. Grandmama made a difference in my life-and actually in Lylas’ too, and all the grandchildren, to follow. From “Edna Hodges Haddock”, I learned what grandmothers do. They tell stories and teach rhymes, while they are snapping beans. They save pocketbooks and shawls in a chest, for dress up . . and they sing “You Are My Sunshine” while you sit beside them in a swing on the front porch. They love your freckles and call you “sugar”.
So it is true, as it is written, that ” some things will cease, and some be stilled-and some pass away” but “love does remain” and maybe, that is what makes”it the greatest”.
August made its’ arrival a grand affair. The early mornings are cool and bright and the afternoons beckon one to get outside -and stay there. August has been like a breath of fresh air, after Julys’ heat and humidity. It is an especially lovely time to stroll by the laughing river or to sit on a rock and watch clouds. Of course, I have done both.
Jennys’ husband Will, had an out of town trip, so I am meandering in Elizabeth City. On Monday, we fed the wild geese at the playground, by the bridge-and on Tuesday we did so again. On Tuesday afternoon, Lyla and I took a walk. This time, Lyla walked beside me. It is a short trek to the river, and Lyla waved good bye to her stroller as we left. Lyla is a bit over two, and already quite agile, to be such a tender age. Thankfully, she held my hand without a fuss, as we walked down the sidewalk to the river. Once we got to the river, she was able to run freely on the large grassy lot. We met a nice lady with a little dog and later a naughty little dog who had escaped from his owner and was making it count. All ended well, as the owner showed up and claimed his little friend, within a short while.
Lyla and I took a different route home. We stopped at a large flat rock, by a little bridge. We sat there a while and listened to the song of the water and watched clouds. When Lyla curled up beside me, like a kitten, I knew we had to head home. Lyla was drowsy from sunshine and lullaby and how I wished she could nap there. She reminded me of a very tired fairy. She was roused by a small raft of ducks and so I took advantage of that. We walked home and within moments, she was in her nursery sound asleep.
On Tuesday, two of my dearest friends, Rae and Janet paid a visit. We have been friends, since our own children were small. We have never quarreled in all of those years. These two were like a tonic, for me. They eased my frail confidence about selling the beloved rabbit patch. They are so sensible and spoke with confidence, to my heart. In no time at all, I was sure a joyful future was unfolding right before my eyes. I was convinced that there would be new owners to see the millions of stars that rise over the rabbit patch faithfully and they would smell the mimosa-and listen to songs of the countryside. After, the cheerful front porch session, we all took a leisure walk around the village. Janet went to college in Elizabeth City, and so it was a Sentimental Journey, for her. As it turns out, Janet ran by Jennys’ home every day, while a student. . and the grassy lot by the river is where the dorms used to be. Now, it is an apartment complex, and that is where the nice lady with the little dog lives, now.
We came back for lunch. Lyla was fussing because she wanted ice cream instead of applesauce, so we did not tarry, but ate and left again. We did not walk long when the dreaded clock, that measures our moments, gave fair warning that Rae and Janet would need to leave soon. Janet had a meeting about historic preservation and Rae had her dance class, so we opted to drive the last part of the trek. When we got home, Jenny had returned from a visit with her friend, and so we talked . Rae and I had ice cream. (I am sure it was her supper.)
I was not the least bit surprised, that the laughing river, was as still as it could be, this morning. It looked like glass. The calmness of the water was the grand finale in my lesson in peace. Some things change but One does not. One is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. I know that One . . .and I am glad.
Dear Diary, I am glad for bright and beautiful days. I am glad for flat rocks, to rest upon. I am glad for a village, where friendly folks dwell-and I am glad for friends, that love at all times.