School is closed due to the storm that flooded a lot of the area. The rabbit patch sits “high and dry”unscathed, thankfully. Mama and Daddy, have a soaked yard, but they too were spared, of major damage. We both live well inland, but the towns nestled by rivers, all around us have really suffered. So has the coast, which is where Tres lives. Tres, still did not have power yesterday. Even so, his home and truck were undamaged, though fallen trees surround him, making it about impossible to leave.
I find it hard to get the plight of those that lost so much, off of my mind. When the water does recede, the aftermath of a flood is tragic. There is the waste to dispose of and then there is the mold, that will surely set in. Recovery is slow and costly. If there is a bright side, it must be the thousands of linemen that come from places like Florida, Virginia and New Jersey, and have been working tirelessly to restore the power. Entire convoys have descended upon the small towns. Tres says these men do not stop to eat, but instead work every hour they can clearing trees from homes and cars. The residents that can, bring them food from their stashed supplies. This moves me deeply and reminds me that there are very kind people in this world and that compassion is alive and well, after all. I am also reminded that heroes cast all types of shadows.
In Elizabeth City, there are only a few flooded streets, as proof, there was a hurricane. The days are overcast and so very humid. Showers fall at any given moment, but there are no complaints at the “original ” rabbitpatch, for the “Rabbit Patch Diary” was partially named for the large rabbit community, I encountered, as Lyla and strolled the village , that first spring of her life. We are spending our days watching little Brynn sleep and smile. Lyla is a sweet sister. Yesterday, she said “I am so excited and I can’t quit feeling that way!” My sentiments, too, Lyla.
One day, we made pumpkin bread and another day, we made oatmeal cookies. We plan to make cinnamon rolls when Brant comes, at the end of the week. Lyla loves baking, but the pimento cheese we made, was just “not her cup of tea”. She has taken to watching all sorts of cake decorating shows . I suspect we will soon attempt that shortly, though I am not a fan of artificial colors and will want to use berries and beet juice instead.
On Wednesday morning, the day dawned fair. For the first time in over a week, there was sunshine casting long slanted rays, on the Riverside village. A flock of wild geese broke the silence of the first hours trumpeting as they flew over the “laughing river”, which is on its’ usual course today. Some young squirrels were making the most of the acorns that came unfastened during the storm. A flock of Robins foraged for all sorts of delicacies, unearthed when the river spilled over. . .and a cool breeze blew chasing the hateful humidity away. It was a beautiful morning and I regretted that mornings didn’t last all day.
I had business to conduct in the late morning. Thankfully all went well. My regular readers know that I am not a fan of any thing official or associated with “documents” -still it is impossible to avoid such tasks. Jenny, Brynn, Lyla and I sat on the porch after lunch as the day continued to be a pleasant one. A steady, cool breeze never ceased to blow merrily throughout the day. The wind tossed the willow tree tendrils in a spectacular production. They reminded me of ribbons loosened in some sort of celebration. How good it felt outside, at last.Brant and Sydney came on Thursday. I was on cloud nine . . .or ten. Lyla was so happy to see them that she declined the chance to make cupcakes. Of course, we have several special items on the menu, to celebrate . Lyla asked me for a “piping bag” when I went to the grocery, so I suppose, the cupcakes will be made in the near future. Sydney loves cheese biscuits , Brant loves rutabagas. . . and everybody loves cinnamon rolls.
A lot of schools have been operating on an altered schedule, and some have not opened at all. Recovery is a slow and tedious work and my heart goes out to the ones, looking for a place to stay, in the process. The ads read, something like, “family with two small children and a dog seeking a temporary residence’. Some people that evacuated, have not yet been back to see what the final results were, for their home. Roads are still closed and so they must wait and hope for the best. It is a tiresome plight for all. Even here, where all is well, groceries have no produce and milk just came in the last few days. I can not imagine the conditions, where entire towns can not be entered. I suspect that even the “hardest of hearts” will be grateful, when all is restored to our former way of living.
Meanwhile, little Brynn is adored and celebrated. Jenny is pampered and Lyla is reassured of her own worth, for we adore her , too . . .and as much as ever. I stay busy with household chores, for I want Jenny to just enjoy her children – and to recover, for this is a sacred time, if there ever was one.
Is there a happier time in your life, than when a baby is born? Oh how good it is to write, that Jenny and little Brynn are home and all is well.
The hurricane has thrown a kink in our original plans. I was to go stay with Jenny, after they came home, however Will and Jenny debated whether to stay put or stay at Miss Claudias’ home, under the circumstances. Will and Jennys’ home is just across the street from the laughing river. Their home is built up, well above ground level, but there is a lot of water in that river. Miss Claudia lives a very few miles away, but it is a much safer distance from the Pasquotank river. What a predicament we are all in! I have not held my little grandchild yet and can hardly bear that. My presence at the rabbit patch will hardly change the outcome of this storm, – and Kyle and Christian are encouraging me to go ahead and leave -so I am very torn. What if one of the ” warriors” (the ancient oaks) falls in this battle -or Mama and Daddy have an emergency? This is a quandary, if there ever was one.
I was cooking cabbage and a pot of beans at five am on Wednesday. We are bound to lose power, and I have not forgotten, the two weeks we went without it, now eight years ago. Kyle is handy with a grill, thankfully and the barns provide shelter, to cook beneath. I can at least make sure, the boys do not starve. . .neither will Cash, my boxer nor Christopher Robin, my cat. I stocked piled dog and cat food, a few days ago.
No one can sit at the kitchen table, for it has become a station for all sorts of supplies. This has always been our routine. The table is laden with batteries, flash lights, candles, and all kinds of prepackaged foods, that I usually never buy. There are also paper plates, paper towels and the popular “wipes”. It pained me to buy the paper products, as I am on a quest to live “green”, but without water, such things will be useful and I did at least buy the “eco friendly” type.
As I went about the business of tending to provisions and planning the duties outside to tend to, the weather man , was giving the latest details of the current projected track of “Hurricane Florence”. It seems the thing is now expected to land much further south than previously thought. I declare he seemed a bit downcast about it. I suppose saying things like “partly cloudy” day after day, does leave room for boredom. I of course felt a lot of relief, but also pity for folks south of us. We will still have a hurricane, but the forecast is a lot less serious now, than it was last night. I think I am going to Elizabeth City, after all.
I arrived in Elizabeth City mid afternoon. I wanted to run in the door to meet little Brynn and hug Jenny, but I wanted to make sure that Lyla knew, I was as glad to see her as ever I had been. At this particular time, I do not think it has crossed Lylas’ mind to feel jealous. That may come, but for now Lyla is in love with her little sister and wants to share her with everyone.
It will come as no surprise to you to know that Brynn is beautiful. She has clear dark skin and a crown of dark silky hair that frames her perfectly, angelic face. She favors Lyla a lot, which thrills all of us. There is just something about the birth of a child in a family that changes everything. Everyone is happy and full of hope. It reunites us all over again, in heart – and reminds us all that we belong deeply to one another. Birth remains a wonder, no matter how much this world changes.
Today is Thursday and the expected day for the hurricane to make landfall. . .well technically it is expected very early Friday morning. We are no longer in the direct path of the storm, as was first predicted. .. .still we prepared for power outages. I made a big pot of chicken soup and bought the ingredients for pimento cheese and beef stew. Will brought Miss Claudia over to stay. Miss Claudia brought all sorts of things – food -books and -crafting supplies, so the house is well stocked and we have things to do “come what may”.
All day the wind blew and the laughing river tumbled in the opposite direction that it usually does. Light rain fell off and on all day. Brynn was quiet as a little mouse. Lyla did well, to have been confined all day. Lyla adores Brynn and “makes no bones about it”. We went to bed wondering what the first hours of the day held in store.
I woke early and was on the porch in the first moments of my day. I surveyed the landscape and noted the river was on the same unusual trek. The water churned restlessly, creating whitecaps and the water was a deep lavender. A lone boat bobbed like a cork, in the busy water, near the opposite shore.
As soon as the light crept into the Riverside Village, I called Kyle and Christian who reported all of the old trees had made it through the storm. The house stood firm and had once again done its’ duty to shelter my family. Mama and Daddy shared the same good news, that all was well with them.
I could not reach Tres, who lives in Wilmington, where the storm made actual landfall, and of course, this worried me to no end.
The little town, just fifteen minutes from the rabbit patch, where I work did not fair so well. Everywhere was flooded and folks were without power. The small town, was even mentioned on the national reports. The “Original Washington” suffered a lot of damage. There has not been such results since 1954, when a hurricane named “Hazel” struck the small town. I still remember hearing my grandparents talk about that storm.
Lyla and I made “honeycakes” for breakfast. Jenny woke up with “pink eye”. A local pharmacist agreed to fill a prescription, so Will and Miss Claudia set off after breakfast to pick it up. Jenny and I checked on loved ones. We finally heard from Tres, who will be without power for a long time, as trees were down in every direction, but he was fine and had food and water.
I made chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Chicken soup is good for many ailments and I thought it would be especially good for Jenny, since Brynn was born just days ago.
I spent a good deal of time in the kitchen, which pleased me. I made a beef stew that simmered til it was more than “fork tender”. It would be served over rice, with cabbage and cornbread, for supper.
I also made a special dish for Miss Claudia. It is an orange and coconut concoction that stirs memories of her childhood . . and Christmas.
When the kitchen was clean, and the house quiet, I finally looked at the pictures of the devastation. I thought of my cousin Phillip, who was recently in an awful accident, and suffering with so much pain. It was all heartbreaking and I was full of sorrow for everyone. This prompted me to pray til I at last fell asleep.
The news came in at three am . . Jenny was preparing to have her little daughter! -Just before six am, it was all over. Her name is Brynn Mae. . .
The first name, Brynn, is after a dear aunt, that we all still miss. Mae, is taken from the names of Wills’ grandmother, and my own dad. I think how beautiful it is to be bestowed a name that carries such significance, in a family.
So, baby Brynn, came to us before the storm, and we are all so grateful. Jenny and her daughter are both well. Will is beaming . . .and then there is Lyla.
Her reaction has moved me deeply. At just three, she fought through tears of sheer joy at the sight of her sister. I do not know that this has ever happened to her, in her short little life. In spite of Lylas’ naughtiness at times, I have always felt she bore a deep sense of sensitivity. After, one of her “spells” she is full of remorse and quite sorry for her wicked deeds. When I tell her stories, she tears up if any of the characters are in distress. I saw her cry when she was barely two, because “Curious George” had landed himself in a cage. I took note that she was able to feel empathy, so very early.
There is a photograph, I’ve included, that illustrates my belief. Taken within the first minutes of Lyla meeting her sister, this picture captures a shining moment that mere words just can not do justice to describe.
The early service on Sunday, was lovely. A light fog hung over the territory, like a fine linen. There was a hush and a stillness, making the countryside seem holier than usual. The only sound was an occasional leaf floating to the good earth of the rabbit patch. The pine tree was as black as midnight, til at long last, the sun broke gently through the mist, casting golden ribbons of light, upon it. To think, I almost missed it . . .
I did not sleep well, the night before. All of my life, up until the last two years, I have slept the whole night through and could have slept anywhere, under any conditions – and said the same thing. At first, a sleepless night was seldom. Then the episodes became more and more frequent. I read this malady is often due to aging. Well, it probably is.
Usually, I read. The house is silent and I make great progress. It would be a wonderful time to write, except my brain strongly prefers the morning time, for that. With the days so miserably hot, I decided to take a walk around the rabbit patch, last night. The night air was cool. The moon was nowhere in sight and the stars were scant. If I did not know the territory like the back of my hand, it would have been a fine opportunity to trip over a root or fall headlong into a sprawling bush – but the rabbit patch and I are old, familiar friends. I did not think great thoughts as I walked along. I did not question anything. I simply wandered for a while and took note of the rabbit patch . . at the midnight hour . . in the last days of summer. I would not have found such tranquility, had I walked at midday, for I would have noticed grass in the flower beds and untidy nooks, that need tending. . . so the darkness proved quite useful, after all.
Sunday dinner is cooking. Suppers have been quite simple this week, with me back at work and packing. The kitchen finally smells like home today. I hope Mama will bring me all of the details about the hurricane, as our cable is out again. So far, the only thing that I can count on, is that bread, milk and batteries will be scarce this week. I have never understood, why milk is in such high demand during storms, for if we lose power, it will only be good for making biscuits, when it is all over. Of course, my main concern, is that Jenny is expecting the baby any day now.
Sunday dinner was a happy affair. Mama brought dessert and Daddy was having a good day. Somehow a window fan kept the kitchen cool. As we sat around the table passing the barbecued chicken, Mama mentioned that she had sent my doctor a “thank you” note for seeing me through my recent bout of sickness. Aren’t mamas so dear? It touched me deeply, for I felt so loved. She knew no more about the hurricane, than I did, but the storm and all the details that come with it, were “second fiddle” to thanking the good doctor, that cared for her child.
I had several “business” calls to make afterwards. Such things tax me heavily, but all turned out well. I tell myself, there is less to do than there was. I am going through boxes like water. I am so grateful, that I did the major decluttering a year ago, now. I can not imagine increasing the existing task, one iota. Thankfully, the things that render me sentimental, are neatly stored in boxes labeled “IMPORTANT, FRAGILE AND DEAR”. Other boxes say simply, “tablecloths” or “blankets” -many are marked “books”.
Of course, I have not even tackled the grounds yet. I must take a rose, that has traveled with me from several homes. It was a mothers’ day gift many moons ago. I must take some of my grandmothers’ tiger lilies, and the other grandmothers’ running periwinkle. There are the floss flowers and at least one of the ginger lilies, should come along, as they are not so easy to find. I will leave the magic lily, so the new owner will have a surprise in July, when the pale pink flowers spring up over night, without fore warning.
Kyle and I started the planning for the hurricane, in the early evening. We checked flashlights and lamp oil. We planned menus that could be accomplished on the grill. We will store water and hope for the best. I will say extra prayers for the old warriors of the rabbit patch, the oaks, sycamores and pines.
We are not strangers to the “dire straits” of a hurricane. Once we went without power for two weeks. At such times, the Farm Life community unites. The fire dept. checks on every household early in the game. The farmers are out with tractors and chainsaws, clearing downed trees. You needn’t summon your neighbor for help, for they are already there. This is always the case. I remember working in the yard, during the last storm. It was so hot and without power, a cool drink had been impossible for days. My dear neighbor Susan (who also mows the grass) had managed to get ice, She surprised me with a cold coke and oh, the difference it made in my day.
Clothes were put in soak in the morning, washed and rinsed and wrung out by hand. It took them all day to dry. A water hose sprawled across the yard and hung in a secluded corner in the Quiet Garden. This is where we bathed.
Christian and I played music with guitar and violin in the evenings on the porch and the neighbors listened. It was an awful time in some ways, but still we found the “silver linings” behind the clouds. With all that being said, I so hope that hurricane has a change of heart, and stays out to sea. . . and I especially hope Jenny does not have the baby in the midst of the storm.
How good it is to say, that I have attended the “early service” for the past two days. The relaxed work schedule, I am observing, has afforded me this luxury, and I have taken full advantage. Some people wake and charge into the day, quite naturally. I on the other hand, do not. First, I do not rise with the full use of my facilities. It is best for me, ad all concerned in my path, if I am allowed to slip quietly in to the day.
Before, my husband died, he would bounce out of bed and be halfway dressed before announcing, “I have been thinking about our car insurance . . .” and I would look at him, incredulously , and ask “how?” , for I was still processing the concept of things like, “Today is Tuesday.” The “early service” is a blessing in more than one way, for me.
In September, the early service is a gentle affair. Leaves are fluttering, just as the moths do, in the evening. Both, moths and leaves, make a big production, about their flight. They both twirl and dash madly, but silently, before their landing. I have been mistaken, knowing which is which . . .in September.
Even the sun behaves differently, these days. The sky slowly turns a buttery shade, while the cicadas chant their choruses. A lone bird may sing out. Today it was a cardinal. I go over my prayer list and just in case, I include the whole world. My dear friend, Julie asked me the other day, if I was still praying about my own personal predicament, with the move from the rabbit patch. I said “that is not my business” anymore. Julie laughed, for she understood that I had given the thing to the Father, after all. This does not mean, that I am not very curious, for oh how, I wish I knew the details. It does not mean, that I do not burn with wonder, but it does mean, anticipation and trust can go “hand in Hand”, I have learned.
Every time Jenny calls, I feel a pang of senselessness. The baby could be hours or weeks away, after all. I am packed and ready. Lyla has a pocketbook with a pacifier, a tissue and a little toy, packed too. Lyla, has also started “preschool”. On the second day, Lyla did not want to join her teacher in “circle”. She told the teacher, she wanted to continue playing. After a bit, the teacher told Lyla, she would need to sit with her in the hallway, while the other children enjoyed the “circle time”. Lyla took her hand and obediently walked out. Lyla, surveyed her surroundings and told the teacher, that she ” liked the hall, for she could see everything!” . . .so that didn’t work. Oh, it may “take a village to raise a child.” . . .but it also takes the “wisdom of Solomon” .
I have decorated the farmhouse porch with a bit of autumn foliage, a lantern and a wreath. It is very hot and humid, still-quite undesirable conditions for me. Some people love hot weather, but it makes me wilt. I am in no way denying the wonder of summer, for the night sky is dazzling in months like July. There is also the wild honeysuckle, magnolias, roses and cape Jasmine perfuming the air with the most intoxicating scents. No other season smells like summer. There are too many extraordinary details about summer, to dismiss it nonchalantly, without gratitude for the dewy mornings and the gardens’ bounty, but when autumn is just in the wings, I fall headlong into the prelude with great expectations.
Just now the floss flower blooms as the oak fades. Now and then loosened leaves fall in empty nests, abandoned in thickets. . . and some fall to cover the little garden path. Though the grass still grows, it lacks the former vigor of June. The roses in the Quiet Garden are few and far between. Nature seems in a lull just now. It is as if the rhythm of life, has slowed enough for every living thing to “catch its’ breath”.
I pack at least one box everyday. In this way, I hope to avoid the scrambling and rushing, as often comes with moving. I think I may be setting some sort of record, as the longest move in history. I started seriously contemplating this idea two years ago. It took me a year to decide and now finally here I am waiting on paperwork. What an ordeal! I carefully label each box and to keep my spirits up, I imagine unpacking them in some cozy cottage. Something is simmering in the kitchen and often it is raining, in my day dream.
Other times, I imagine an expensive moving truck, honking the horn, while we are all cross and eventually, someone drops the box of the beloved Christmas china.
Imagination can be a wonderful tool in life. . .or not. I was blessed early in life with the opportunity to develop skill in this . My cousins and I were expected to entertain ourselves a good deal of time. We were not poor, but toys were not lavished upon us. Besides, we had trees, fields and woodlands that served as a playground. We made up all sorts of dramas and games. We were always exploring a newly discovered path made by deer, an abandoned shed or at least once an old moonshine still, we were sure belonged to a great uncle. We were quite resourceful, for we had to be. We solved our disputes and made up rules of what was fair. I do not know, even now if the adults knew they were imparting such a valuable gift to us, but it has served me well.
In the midst of a problem, I can imagine a positive outcome. If something doesn’t work the first time, then now I know better, how to proceed. How many forts fell in shambles before the one that made it through winter, I remember? When something takes longer than I expected, what might I stumble upon, while waiting, I wonder? If I am going to invent some event, you can rest assured, I am expecting something wonderful to happen. Doom and gloom serve no purpose, as best I can tell, except to make us “worried sick”, truthfully. Even when I feel melancholy, I know it will pass. Regret and loss, are the burdens, hardest to shake for me, I have found.
Tomorrow is Sunday, and since I am at the rabbit patch, I hope to cook a Sunday dinner. The kitchen remains mostly intact. (I did bravely packed the bundt pan and some measuring cups.) At any moment, Jenny could call with the arrival of her new daughter, possible. There is also a hurricane that may make landfall here, on Wednesday. (I did not pack the lamp oil nor the flashlights.) Until then, I will bide my time, waiting for so much to happen, while I watch the grand finale of summer . . .and imagine all sorts of beautiful things to come.
This was not a typical week at the rabbitpatch. I missed most every early service and have no clue if the ginger lilies are blooming or not. Only God knows what the sparrows have been up to. That nagging ear ache that has been plaguing me on and off for a month, made its’presence known with a vengeance and stopped me in my tracks.
It all started, a few weeks before the school year. I am not new to having ear infections though I did not suffer from them regularly as a child. Usually, I get through them without to much ado. This particular time, I could not shake it for longer than a few days, before it would return again, each episode worse than the one before. When the pain was unbearable, widespread and I could not hear a thing, nor open my mouth, I went to the doctor. I was in quite a serious predicament, it turned out.
The good doctor, did not raise an eyebrow at my oregano oil, ginger and clove oil remedies. He thought it was a good attempt. I had stopped when, the pain left, and that was a problem. He did not even fuss that I had taken some remnants of antibiotics, that did not belong to me. Maybe I was too sick to stand a lecture and he knew it. I asked him for morphine and we could call it a day, but that was not the solution and so so he went about writing one prescription after another with all sorts of directions. I was lost at number three. I did hear bed rest and hopefully avoiding the hospital. He asked me what pharmacy to call and said I do not have one, but there is small friendly pharmacy, that I buy from honey from and he knew the one, I meant, beside the grocery. So I went home with an arsenal of bottles, and went to bed. Beside me was a little table with bottles and vials and a written schedule, which required a clock. Christian made every soft food, he could concoct for me.
The children were so relieved-Mama was so relieved for they had all wanted me to go, for weeks. The last time, I had gone to the doctor was a dozen years earlier for an emergency appendectomy. It was to this same doctor, who has now decided I must be dying to seek help. Rest assured I have learned a valuable lesson.
The infection had invaded the whole side of my head and jawbone. I will leave the story here, as I do not mean to whine, nor sound any more stubborn, than you have already pictured. “Pride goeth before a fall.” rings true, I suppose.
By Sunday, I felt good enough to get on with the business of living. At last, I thought again about the landscape. I noticed the berries on the dogwood were now a bright red and here and there, were clusters of golden leaves. I still missed the early service, and so am still in the dark, about the rabbits born in spring and the plight of the sparrows just now. Thinking on such things seemed as healing as the tonics from the good doctor. With all the complexities of this world, I believe it would do us all good to think about sparrows occasionally.
Of course, in the midst of all this, we are awaiting the birth of Jennys’ little daughter. It could be really anytime, but it could be weeks. There is also a little cottage to think about, found recently. . .that may or may not work out. Time will tell as it always does. Several have come and gone. One was too small, one was too big. . .and then a few that seemed just right, slipped through my fingers like water. Still, I am convinced, that my fairy tale has a happy ending, just waiting to spring up. I am doing my best to enjoy the “foot path” that tends to wind and twist, to the next rabbit patch. One day, I will “round a bend” and there it will be! Until then, I move along as I am directed and plan which roses to plant and I wonder, what the morning will look like and where the “moon shine” will fall.
On Monday morning, I woke in time for the early service. I felt the best I had in weeks. Oh, I ought to never complain about a thing, I thought! How good it felt to be me again, faults and all. I listened to the morning song of the cicadas in the stillness of the morning, and decided they were celebrating with me. I thought of all the things I love and I was glad for them all over again. I did not think of things like fancy jewelry or gadgets. Instead, I thought about things like listening to Christian play his guitar, walking by the laughing river with Lyla and cooking on Sunday for Mama and Daddy. I wasn’t a bit sorry for watching robins and rabbits, or listening to the dreams of my sons. . .or spending this “holy time” with Jenny.
Now, this whole concept, is an old one. . .but it it seems worth repeating . . . we should do what we love. People who have some sort of sickness or encounter with tragedy, always say the same thing. I do not even attempt to compare myself with battle of the every day warriors, but in the midst of a calamity, no one ever says, I wish I had a nicer car, or had worked more and had a finer home. I was simply not well, for a while, but these things crossed my mind and the clarity of the truth struck a deep impressive chord.
Oh that we all find and recognize the core of our happiness and live our journey with our own authentic joy . Might we all think about sparrows from time to time.