The fourth of July passed here, without much fanfare. Christian had to work, and besides that, our family was gathering the next day, as that was when we could all do so. Tres had spent the night, so while most folks were preparing for cook outs and fireworks, I was cooking a hearty brunch, for the two of us. That suited me fine.
Tres and I drank coffee in late morning light. Our plates were heaped with fried potatoes, grits, eggs and bacon and as always a stimulating conversation flowed. There is no such thing as a dull conversation, when Tres is around.
We talked about the environment and specifically how the beef industry effects it. I had never thought about that, but it intrigued me greatly. It takes a lot of fields to just feed the animals – fields that could feed people. There is also the issue of the methane produced . . well it is an interesting topic to research.
We talked as always about religion, spawned by the recent practice of the church my parents attend (a Church of Christ)_. . of “shunning” . The thing has shocked the community, me especially. It happened, this way . . .Two services were held each Sunday-one traditional, and one contemporary. The traditional minister, moved, and was not replaced. The “elders” who are about half the ages of the “traditional” seniors -decided to do away with the traditional service and “unite” the church with the contemporary service. The seniors did not agree and took to having their traditional service with paid traditional,speakers, hence, the “shunning” , for they “disobeyed the elders”. The seniors are just deemed too sinful, for communication. My parents, former Sunday school teachers, elders deacons and steadfast members (for many, half a century)-are to be treated, as if they do not exist. This has impacted the community, neighbors and families.
The whole thing has been nothing but “another thorn in the side” for me. . . for it has hurt my parents. Four of our generations have served that Church in some capacity, so what an especially heartbreaking, affair.
Tres said, “I don’t suppose, the church has a prison ministry.”
Not all of our conversations were spent on “doom and gloom” topics, for we talked about Lyla and Brynn-and the impending birth of Brant and Sydneys’ son.
Tres left around mid afternoon and took the lively conversations with him. The rest of the holiday was was a quiet at the rabbitpatch, as Christian was still at work -and the the boxer slept.
Some of the country folks did some fireworks, in the evening and I watched the colorful lights explode over the tree tops in the distant fields.
Our family gathered on the fifth, as this was when the majority could attend. We had a noonday meal at my parents’ home. Will, had to work, or else we would have had a perfect attendance! The table was laden with chicken, corn on the cob, potatoes, peas, cornbread and two desserts. We all adored little Brynn as she sat in the very old high chair, with the rest of us. Lyla sang and danced as her Uncle Christian played the piano. After the meal, I watched the uncles taking walks with their nieces and helping Lyla care for her doll. Jenny and I sat on the porch with Sydney fairly glowing “with child” and listened to her dreams for her little son. It was a lovely day, altogether.
Finally, my sleep has regulated to the point of being sensible. To prove the point, I was in bed before midnight and rose early on Saturday. At long last, mornings aren’t as cool as they were a few weeks ago and the days are downright hot. I smelled corn growing last night in the sultry air, but the fragrance of the mimosa blossoms claimed the morning air, today.
The southern heat slows everything down. Even the birds do not hurry about as they did in May. The roses produce occasionally, only. Many of the flowers weep for water, now. The corn in the fields is tasseled out, but the stalks are much slighter in stature than usual, for we haven’t had a rainy day, in a long while. Now, the air conditioner roars away, disturbing the peace, but it really is unbearable without it. Southerners have a strong constitution for heat, but I find yards are empty and porch rockers are still . . and vacant, by mid day.
In the evenings, the rabbits come out, just before the stars. Country rabbits are skittish , compared to their city cousins. The boxer has always been discouraged from hindering small creatures, but he watches the rabbits with alertness and glances at me, every few seconds, just in case, I change my mind . . .but I never do.
I woke on Sunday to a fair morning. The air was cool and the sky was bright. What a pleasant surprise June has been. The hateful, southern humidity has been reduced enough to make the month mock the time of early spring.
I had arrived in Elizabeth City, the evening before. Now, there was the unpacking to do, from the week of vacation. Jenny would have extra laundry, in addition, to the regular demand. Of course, I was all set to hear their adventures by the sea.
Straight away, I found out that Lyla had built a fair amount of sand castles and had seen lots of pink clouds. She had not seen a starfish, which had disappointed her, but she had brought a sea shell back, to give to Miss Thelma . Lyla was sure that the shell was “the fairest of all shells.”
With school closed, I have done an even worse job of keeping up with time, and the days of the week. One day turned into the next, filled with all sorts of tasks. There was always laundry, Brynn needed rocking and there were meals to be cooked, on any given day. Stories were told everyday and Lylas’ dolls needed fresh dresses. Brynn practiced her walking and blowing kisses. Will went back to work. He kept track of the time.
One day, Lyla and I went to the grocery. Another day, we made a banana pudding, a few days later, we made brownies. We read Black Beauty again, for the book is just the first chapter – and we started a new poem. One afternoon, we all visited with “Aunt J”. Aunt J is Miss Claudias’ sister. Oh, how Aunt J misses her sister! Her eyes well up, at the mention of the memories. They were sisters, neighbors and friends, after all.
The loss of a loved one, is a heavy burden to bear, I think. Few things in life rival the toll of that particular kind of loss. Time may dull the hurt and render it more bearable, but today, I still miss my maternal grandmother . . . and she died fifty years ago. I will say, the first years are always worse. than those to come.
I came home on Thursday, in order to attend a doctors’ appointment for Daddy. It was to be a quick turn around, for I was cooking on Saturday, for a gathering, in Elizabeth City. As it turned out, a crisis awaited . . . Someone as dear to me as anyone else, had landed in a huge catastrophe. Mama called in the midst of it all, to say Daddys’ appointment had been cancelled.
It was midnight, before, I had calmed myself enough to sleep.
On Friday, around noon, “the dust had settled” just enough for me to collect myself and head back to Elizabeth City. The grass is growing everywhere . . .but under my feet.
Though, I had been away but a full day, Lyla acted as if she hadn’t seen me since Christmas! Even little Brynn danced in her moms’ arms and squealed in delight at the sight of me. That gave me quite a bit of joy.
The reason for my quick return, was that gathering. It was being held for Mandy and her husband. Mandy is the one, I have written of before, who started her own business, Pansy & Ivy. She is a dear friend to Jenny, and dear to me as well. Sadly, Mandy and her family are moving to Florida. I had volunteered to make a main dish, for her “going away” party, hence, a good deal of Saturday, was spent in the kitchen.
The event had been planned out carefully. Sarah Noble, another dear one, was hosting it and never does anything small. . .so she didn’t this time either. Jennys’ account of the party convinced me that Sarah had given Mandy a beautiful “send off”.
The rest of my time in the “village by the river”, was spent helping with chores, cooking and best of all, spending time with my grandchildren. There was a stroll with both girls in the double carriage. There were songs sung softly while swinging on the front porch and the daily “stories” to be told. Brynn crawled and clapped her little hands. Lyla danced around the willow tree and so the days passed, sweetly.
Such things provide a deep sense of contentment for me. They are bright moments. -and having the better part of a year,laden with disappointments and loss, those moments especially make all the difference.
I have had quite a variety of seasons, in my sixty years. Many, and most of them, have been joyful. A few were not. Some occasions, warranted emotional recovery . . .they have always warranted courage, as well. My faith, supplied both. Still, I stumbled at times with clumsy, faltering steps. Fear, was often the culprit and seemed to be lurking in every shadow. The older, I grew, the more I realised that fear, disguises itself in a crafty fashion, always pretending to be something else.
Thank Goodness for grandchildren and a front porch swing. . . and that no matter the conditions, tiger lilies and laughing rivers abide. There is something about their steadfastness, that is reassuring. “The rock”, that Lyla and I linger upon, offers a deep sense of comfort. . .and so do the majestic magnolias, that live across the street. There is just something about nature that affords a dependable – and powerful nurturing, for my spirit, for I do not feel that I am only in the presence of rocks and trees and blooming things-but also in the Presence, of the Hand that created them. . .and without fail . . . I am better for having gone their way.
I rose early on “Fathers’ Day”. It was the first day, I had been at the rabbitpatch, since school had adjourned. Will and Jenny were at the beach, Christian had to work, Brant was in the mountains . . .well everybody was somewhere else. I was cooking a “Sunday dinner” and taking stock of what project to tackle, this week.
The morning was quiet and unlike the mornings, I spent on the porch, at Jennys’. this past week. No one walks a dog in the “Farm Life” community. There are no joggers -or walkers, and certainly no skateboards going by the house. I can not imagine living in a major city, for even a small town, perched on the banks of a river, offers a life of contrast. I like both. I used to spend part of the summer time in Wilmington, which is not a small town. Brant lived in a townhouse community. The neighbors were a friendly lot and the place was full of old trees and flowers-and so tidy. I took walks daily, but other than that, I was “housebound”. Traffic there was a nightmare for me. There is no courtesy amongst drivers, for it seems they are everyone late for something. Whenever, I got a ride to a grocery, I made it count.
I cleaned the porch, while a load of laundry washed and a pot of green beans simmered. I heard my grandmothers voice, reminding me to “season the water first, before adding the beans”. I never understood this practice, but I practice it faithfully, because Grandmama did. Besides, Grandmama was an exceptional cook. She used ingredients of quality and cooked with a tender spirit and a gentle hand. She did not cook hurriedly, either. My eyes still sting, at her memory.
I made JoDees’ barbecued chicken , for that takes the better of two hours and potato salad for Mama, as with it being “Fathers’ Day”, the dishes most all, centered around Daddy. A cinnamon cake, chocked full of raisins, was baked for dessert. When it was all finished, the dishes were packed up like a grand picnic parcel for today I was bringing “Sunday dinner” to them.
Of course, I am bound to sing the praises of my dad to today, especially. When you are a child, and know no different, what a good father does, does not seem spectacular . My own dad worked-long and hard hours. Though we were taught to be thrifty and sensible, I was never made aware of any time there was a lack of money. I never heard my parent argue. “Sass” was not tolerated and “sass” included tone of voice and flippancy. Mama taught us sterling manners-Daddy made sure, we “minded” Mama. Daddy took fatherhood seriously. He was not the sort of man, to read books to us, though I do remember him reading me a “little Golden Book” which ironically, was “The Tale of Peter Rabbit- and another one . . “The Billy Goats Gruff”. Daddy taught us other things, not found in books. He taught us how to saddle our ponies, constellations . .and leaf and bird identification. He bought us sturdy shoes and winter coats, and flew kites with us. I could not appreciate such things, as a child. I had never gone without a good nights’ sleep, nor worked in sleet and hateful heat. I had no knowledge of what it meant to provide for another living soul. I was ignorant of working all the overtime you could, to buy dolls and tea sets for Christmas – and eating out of a lunch box, every day. Fathers do such things, at least mine did. . .and what a thankless job, it can be, for years.
Thankfully, I have lived long enough, to realise the advantage I have, in having a good father. Thankfully, he can know, my gratitude for it .
On Monday, I got up when I felt the notion-in spite of a clock. I still got up early, but to have the liberty of that decision, felt good. It was a clear morning. A young mimosa was blooming for the first time in a delicate shade of pink. The thing is full of feathery blossoms and though it grows in an inconvenient place, I haven’t the heart to remove it. . .and most especially, now. Mimosa trees are so common, here. They adorn the edges of field and wood- and come up in flower beds -and sidewalks. The trees are quite tropical looking, with palm like branches, that always mange to grow in a graceful canopy form. The abundance of the mimosa, does not decrease its’ value to me. I love them, as my grandmother did-and Jenny does now. I remember laying with Brant, under a mimosa, when he was but days old. It was one of the first times, he was outside, and I couldn’t wait to show him the beauty of the world, he’d come too.
I had two projects on my agenda -but didn’t attempt either of them. I dreaded both of the tasks, truthfully. One was painting the kitchen ceiling and the other was painting the front porch. I decided to put off, today, what might get done tomorrow. Besides I was weeks behind in reading and I have not written nearly as much as my heart desired, as of lately. I did cook, for I organised the freezer. There was nothing to discard, but plenty to cook. I washed some laundry, and I read page after page after page, til the rabbitpatch was bathed in moon shine – and at last, my obligations were satisfied.
On Tuesday, I behaved as I did on Monday, upon rising. Early light fell in bright splashes on the territory-so that was what time it was. I did not dally, but went straight away, to find the paint for the ceiling. I sat it out in plain sight, so that the gumption might well up inside me to paint that ceiling. In the meantime I put on a large pot of chicken to stew. I was wanting to try to make a chopped barbecue, using chicken. Now, this goes against my southern roots. Eastern NC barbecue is highly regarded as the best there is, and rightfully so. It is made painfully slow, with pork roasted over a wood fire. Stewed chicken, is a far cry, from that, but I had some recently-and liked it. I will season it, and chop it, as if it were pork . . and hope for the best, though I may not breathe a word of it, to my neighbors.
By noon, I was sick of ladders and painting, altogether. It was also apparent that it would take the best part of the day to finish. . . . longer than I had expected. . .like everything else, I start. Since the cabinets are white, the bright ceiling made them appear dingy. There was nothing to do, but to paint them too. I took a good many breaks, but each time that I climbed down, meant another time to climb up, too. I wanted to stop many times, but I knew I could finish it today. When the kitchen is closed down -well, it is awful around here.
Everything was finished and the kitchen clean . . .around midnight.
Daddy had an early appointment at a hospital, in a neighboring town, on Wednesday morning. That turned out just like my kitchen project, . . . dreadfully, under estimated. I regretted not carrying a book, as I usually do, but we all expected to be home by lunch. We got home , just before supper. Thankfully, all turned out good for daddy. We took great comfort in that.
With all the imagination, nurtured in me, I hadn’t enough to see my daddy in a wheelchair, or my mother putting his shoes on, for him. I knew, they would both grow older, as we all do . . as I do, but it always seemed a far away time . . .too far to think about on any given day, thus far. My parents seemed as ordinary as other folks, when I was growing up . . .now as I watch them, a half century later, holding hands , united in heart and spirit, throughout all seasons, I understand, finally, that they have never been ordinary people. They were always great people, doing the ordinary things, life called for.
The last few days have flown by like a “whirlwind”. When “the dust settled”. children had graduated and a closing ceremony, concluded the school year. I headed straight away to Elizabeth City, for Jenny has a lot more on her plate than usual. . .besides, I never turn down a chance, to see my children and grandchildren and will traipse headlong , at the drop of a hat. But, Jenny has two appointments this week and has to pack for a week at the beach. She must bring linens, towels, kitchen necessities and toys, besides clothes and toiletries, for their week by the sea.
The weather feels like September! The humidity is so low, that a neighbor informed us the records have been broken. This allows the “laughing river” to turn that beautiful shade of indigo. With the lawns being an emerald green just now, the village, is a lovely sight altogether. One day, I took Lyla and Brynn on a long stroll in a double stroller. Brynn sat up and took note of everything. It was a windy day, and we all loved it. Everything is blooming. We stopped under a magnolia tree, just to drink in the scent of the saucer size blossoms. Not long after we stopped again, in our tracks, on the sidewalk, for the wind was filled with the smell of the Cape Jasmine . We stood there and let the wind blow around us, til we had the notion to move on. Lyla learned about hydrangeas, this day, for most every yard has one. A kind lady was working in her yard and gave us several for a bouquet. What a lovely day!
Baby Brynn had a doctors’ appointment one day. While she and Jenny attended that, Lyla and I went to “The Recycled Reader” which was just a few shoppes down. Book stores are one place I like to shop. Now, regular readers know, that I am on a mission, to live with less . . .still I bought THIRTEEN books, this day. Most were for others. I found a “Black Beauty” book, for young children actually using Sewells’ original words and illustrated beautifully. I am quite a snob when it comes to books for my grandchildren. I just will not tolerate poor quality in books, and most especially for children. I shutter at the watered down version of the classics and the cartoonish quality of many. I also found two for my future grandson-also well written . I found a book for Jenny and one for Will and several for me from the “Covington Series”. What a jackpot for me, as these books are hard to find. Lyla enjoyed herself as much as I did. I have a feeling, we will go again, shortly. . .and carry a bigger bag!
Friday was Brants’ birthday. Brant is my oldest child and he is the one expecting his own first child. . .my first grandson. He and Sydney are in the mountains, on vacation, so we had to make due with a phone call. Brant is a beautiful human inside and out. He is far from shallow and is as compassionate a soul as I know of. If this sounds like bragging . . it is because I am. He has never lived anywhere, that his neighbors (especially the seniors), did not love him. Children too – and dogs. There is just something about Brant. Of course, I adore my children, but I have valid reasons to do so. . .and Brant is one of them.
Friday was the day of packing. The car was cleaned out and strollers were scrubbed down. It was a full days’ work. Lyla and I did manage to get in a visit with Miss Thelma. We carried flowers and cookies and Lyla recited her poems. Miss Thelma just lost her husband, last week, whom she refers to, “as her best friend for eighty years”. Her only son passed a few years back, so how tragic. I hope to spend many hours with her this summer, for I have come to love Miss Thelma, and am quite distressed about her situation.
Lately, it seems a lot of sadness has plagued our family. I can scarce recover from one thing, til it seems another has sprang up. What a toll it takes. Sometimes, I feel like I have been in a perpetual state of mourning, for quite a spell. My grandmama used to say, “There is ALWAYS something to worry you . .if you let it .” (My elders used the word “worry” when they meant “bother”.) She was right.
One of the truest test, life offers, is what to do with “bother”. It is a skill that will be required by all of us and I am convinced, may be one of our most significant factors, in our overall happiness . . .and our health. I sat on the porch swing, Friday night and wondered about all of it. I admit, that life had been going smoothly, for me for a long stretch and I grew accustomed to that. The next thing I know, is that one thing after another unfolded, resulting in loss of loved ones, doors slamming on hopes and threatening circumstances, for several of my dearest ones. I am not at liberty to “tell all” just now, but rest assured, I am not exaggerating. I am in the proverbial “rough patch” and “things could always get worse” does not comfort me one iota, for yes, I believe it! . . .and meanwhile, the eyes of my children are upon me- and I realise, that I am still “teaching them” – about what to do with “bother”.
I sat on the swing, when the village was quiet, and there was no sign “of man”, for a while, sorting out each care – as if I would come up with solutions. I found myself to be quite dull, at such a task and decided to just “Be still” -as it is written. This is much easier, said, than done.
Saturday morning dawned cool and bright. The very first thought, that I had was “to just love everybody”. How odd, I thought, for such a thing to pop in your head upon awakening! I could not recall a single dream, but somehow, the idea rang true and I felt it deeply stirring within my heart. I had no explanation for it, for I doubted any conditions had changed over night, but I could not deny feeling more peaceful, than I had in a fortnight. . .that had changed. My concerns were still intact, but I felt more able to bear them. Love seemed especially powerful -and enough.
I gently got out of bed, so as not to wake Lyla. I sat on the front porch again – and listened to the robins chattering, as they fed their young. Somewhere a mimosa bloomed, for it made its’ presence known in the morning breeze. The willow swayed gracefully, giving in to the desire of the wind. It was like watching poetry. . . a natural choreography . . as is so often found in nature.
On Monday, the sale of the rabbitpatch, fell through. It was disappointing,to say the least. The thing I had going for me, was experience, this time around. In December, the deal was off, just two days before closing. It was a horrible shock at the time and dampened my spirits considerably – and right before Christmas. Well, I carried on with high hopes, for the coming spring.
Though, I was better prepared, this time, I can say, there was not an absence of some melancholy. I had not even put the house on the market, when a prospective buyer approached me. In all honesty, both of us thought it would work out.
Lest, anyone think, that I spend all of my life, watching sparrows and talking to trees, I want you to know, that such things were not on my mind, that day. I shed a few quiet tears and then I got grumpy. Of course, all sorts of noble thoughts kept popping in my head. “It was not the right time” -“the best is yet to come” and on and on. I dismissed them all, for I needed to mourn. I wanted to mourn. I was frustrated and felt stranded. It was not my best moment.
I went out to say good night to the world, despite my poor behavior. The pine trees were whispering and a dove cooed sweetly. A pair of young rabbits were frolicking in the star shine, like all was well.
I woke early on Tuesday. It was a cool morning . The sweet country air came through the open window . . . and a mockingbird sang. The realization of the “failed attempt” washed over me again, with a slighter sting, than the day before. Every verse, I knew about trust and faith sprang up in my thoughts, while I prepared for work. This annoyed me, to no end.
On a brighter note, it was Sydneys’ birthday. Dear Sydney glowing and so content – so full of hope and joy as she awaits the birth of her little son. . .and my first grandson. What a beautiful time it is for all of us. Few times are sweeter than waiting for a baby, I think. Everything else, I was thinking about started to pale in comparison, to that.
I wish I could say that I abandoned my gloomy thoughts, but I did not feel a conclusion for a while. Really, I just wanted a direction to follow. I came to doubt the whole business. I wondered how a path that seemed laid before me, would be so hindered. Of course, I thought that maybe the “timing” was off. I pondered it all til I was weary of it. That is when, things got suddenly clear. It occurred to me, that I either trusted . . or I didn’t. It was as simple as that. . . I decided to trust.
Later, I laughed at myself, for acting as if selling a house- or not, could have caused such an internal commotion . What a big and unnecessary production! In my defense, though . . .this has gone on for a while and there are plenty more details, I am not yet at liberty, to tell. Not one of them is small, either.
I have no idea, how I will continue to manage this territory -or how I will pay for it. The house and property are bigger than they used to be and like me . . .older. I still deeply desire a smaller rabbitpatch, but for now, I will trust in this winding journey with its, “blind spots” and twists, after all, I am not going it, alone. I needn’t even be brave, I just have to trust.
Dear Friends of the Rabbitpatch, I write this in hope that your own disappointments will be few . . but also knowing they are as certain as rain, to come along on occasion. At such times, we are bound to falter . . .as I did . . and make mountains of molehills . . . as I did. Should anyone find themselves, in such circumstances, I did not want them to feel lonesome . I have a fair share of short comings . . .but at least I am in “Good Company” as I go along. The truth is . . .We all are.
Temperatures have been rising steadily . . .til now it is hot. Even the steady breeze is too warm to afford any comfort. There hasn’t been a drop of rain in a fortnight, and so the lilies are complaining along with the roses. The grass at the rabbitpatch hasn’t grown an inch, since my neighbor, Susan mowed it two weeks ago. What a saint Susan is!
With “summer weather” showing up early, we cut the air conditions on, in the old farmhouse. This is dreadfully early for such measures, but the hateful southern humidity is just an unbearable heritage. The forecast calls for rain and cooler temps in the next few days, so hopefully, this is a short lived affair.
A pleasant thing happened on Thursday. Tres came home! He is here for just a few days, but long enough for me to make a supper and for Mama to make his favorite cake. We had a small belated birthday celebration at Mama and Daddys’. And in the midst of it, rain came. It was really a quick thunderstorm, but we were all happy about it. Cool air came with it and what a difference that made. I drove back to the rabbitpatch at dusk, when fireflies were on the wing. What a pretty picture it made, to see their flickering shine in the evening mist. I came home and cut that air conditioner off.
If things had been different, I would have taken Friday off. Tres had spent the night, after all.
Friday passed quickly. I left just after school, for Elizabeth City. The sky was a threatening shade of blue and now and then a shower fell for a mile or so. The young corn, in the fields held their blades tight, for this is the way, corn begs for rain.
Along the way, my friend Rae called. Rae and I have been friends for more than thirty years, which shocks me to think about. When a friendship endures for that long, you really “understand” one another, deeply. Several years ago, Raes’ whole life changed in a flash. First, her job ended – and a month later, her husband died , suddenly. Both of her sons had recently married and so Rae was a widow, dealing with an empty nest, all at once. . .and no job to distract her. I am sure those were the bleakest years, for her. Still, my friend trudged on, til today, when she called to say she was married … . .and happily. I smiled the whole way to Elizabeth City.
Not too long, after I arrived at the Riverside Village, by the “laughing river”, a thunderstorm struck. Lyla and I listened to the storm, safely snuggled in bed. Like me, Lyla loves rain-and a thunderstorm.
The next morning, was quite cool, such a shock from the last week. There were morning showers, but by noon, the sun was shining. It was as lovely day, as I have ever seen. Will and Jenny were attending a downtown festival and so the bright day was perfect, for that. I had a stroll planned for Lyla and Brynn, but alas, Lyla fell asleep and just before she woke, so did Brynn.
On Sunday morning, I made biscuits for breakfast. With the cool weather, lingering, Will and I sat on the porch. Somehow, we started talking about books. Both of us agreed, that with all of the modern ways to read, holding a book and turning the pages, remains our favorite form, of the pastime. Our favorite books, sit on our shelves, and become like old friends , over the years. I will read a good book more than once.
Back, when I was young, and the world was safer, Mama would drop my sister and I off at the local library, while she shopped for groceries. Delores and I took the library as serious business, and observed the quiet policy, and we were very careful to return books to the correct place on the shelves. After we had checked out our selections, we would wait for Mama under the huge magnolia trees, just outside the door of the library, reading our books. To this day, the innocence of those happy days, moves me to tears.
Lyla and I carried Miss Thelma some biscuits while they were still warm. After a short visit, Lyla and I headed to the grocery. This was to be a short visit, and though I knew this full well, I dreaded leaving. The time had gone cruelly fast, but I consoled myself that I would be afforded greater liberty soon.
I left in a light rain that quickly turned to a blinding rain. When it started hailing, I turned back. It was a short but perilous journey. The crashing hail was deafening and I couldn’t see but an arms’ length, beyond me.
The days of late spring, continue to come and go in the most delightful fashion. It is a bit warmer, now, but in the absence of humidity, it is a pleasant thing to be outside. Right now, the rabbitpatch territory is tidy and full of blooms. It is highly likely, to see the wild rabbits now, scampering about in the evening. . .and the birds sing nonstop. Foxglove blooms in odd places and I am glad of it. The elderberry joins the ranks of the foxglove, claiming any available spot on the territory.
I love neat lawns that look tended, for they look loved, but too much tending and then the place looks too controlled, to suit me. As much as I can, I let “nature take its’ course” – of course, this does not apply to the greedy thorned vines nor poison ivy, that I do battle with regularly. Yet I also love rambling roses, that spill carelessly on the lawn and flowering bushes with flowing tendrils, left to their own devices.
I left right after school on Friday, for Elizabeth City. I had not been there for a several weeks. First one thing and then another had come up. It was a beautiful day to drive and the highway traffic was light for a holiday weekend.
I drove past the sprawling fields , now a tender shade of green. “Queen Annes’ Lace” was blooming all along the roadside and so were the wild day lilies. I love an arrangement of the two. When paired, neither look like mere, roadside flowers. The three rivers I cross sparkled enough, to rival a large cluster of diamonds. The highway, now familiar, offered all sorts of beautiful tokens.
Of course, there was a sweet reunion, when I walked in the back door, of Jennys’ home. No one is ever as glad to see me, as Lyla. She ran down the stairs calling out “Honeybee!” Little Brynn did wave and smile sweetly, tucked safe in her mothers’ arms. What a beautiful baby she is. The old fashion word “bonnie” comes to mind and just suits her.
That night, agendas were made. Projects for Jenny and I, like cleaning out the pantry. Lyla and I would make a strawberry cake, and visit with Miss Thelma, besides stories and “lessons”, for I always have a few “up my sleeve”. Lyla especially loves poetry.
On Saturday, Lyla and I went to the grocery, for she was especially anxious to make the cake. When Lyla and I shop for groceries, I do not rush hastily as is my usual practice. Instead, we gather each of the produce items, and I always have Lyla find them. Next, is the bakery section. We look at all the decorated cakes, leisurely. Then, the fresh cut bouquets, which Lyla always checks for sleepy fairies and on we go, til at last we have completed the list. Lyla is always very concerned if we buy anything that is not on her mamas’ list.
We made the cake that very day and made strawberry whipped creme, too. While we worked in the kitchen, I played, Duettino Sull ‘ Aria, which I declare is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. Lyla loved it, and so did little Brynn, in her high chair.
We carried some of the cake, to Miss Thelma, who was sitting on her porch, watching birds.At ninety three, Miss Thelma remains “sharp as a tack”. She taught school for over thirty years and I am certain, that her students were “happy little larks”, for Miss Thelma is a gentle and loving soul. Lyla loves to recite her poetry, for Miss Thelma for Miss Thelma showers her with praise and declares her “bright”.
Sunday was Tres’ birthday. It is always odd to me, when one of my children have a birthday, and I am not with them. It matters little to me, that they are all grown. I always remember their birth and the details surrounding it, on their birthdays. I suppose all mothers do. I did get to talk to Tres. He had spent the day doing school work and had at least, scored 100 on a calculus exam. . .and yes -I am bragging, without shame, for I am a fan! I always have been.
One day, Jenny and I did get the pantry cleaned out and reorganized. That was a huge mess. On that same day, Will and Jenny both wanted a banana pudding. We had a special supper planned as well. We ended up inviting Brooks and Mandy, and daughter Riley, to join us. Mandy is the one who started a florist business called “Pansy & Ivy”, which ended up being a sweet success. I still remember her first arrangement. It was lovely and a far cry above the usual. Mandy seemed to be a natural and her face nearly glowed. When she left, I told Jenny, “There is someone who has found her passion.” . . .and I was right.
Another day, and I say that for I lost track of the days, Jenny and I organized the nursery and made plans to go through Brynns’ clothes, again. It will not be the grand effort it was, a few months ago. I can scarce believe that “Baby Brynn” is now crawling, waving and standing! But she proved it this week end by getting out of her cradle, on her own! What a shock it was for all of us! I suspect that cradle will be passed along to Brant and Sydney, shortly, for their little son, due in September.
There were many bright moments, during my visit, but one I hold especially dear. Early one morning, Lyla and I were sitting on the front porch swing. It was a beautiful morning with a slight breeze that made the willow dance gracefully. Lyla awakes full of chatter and this day, she wanted me to tell a story about “Gypsy”, a naughty doll in our saga. I somehow, convinced Lyla, that surely Gypsy was still sleeping, for I’d had but a bit of coffee. I also said how good it was for us, to just sit quietly sometimes. So, she did.
A few minutes later, she slipped her little hand in mine, though she sat as still as a mouse, and said “I want to talk to Jesus.” She meant, that she wanted me to pray . . .and so I did. We prayed in thanksgiving for robins and willow trees and Lyla chimed in with “and apples”. Next she said “all the old people” and then “all the babies, most especially Brynn and her future cousin”- She next added “all of the Japanese children’, for she is learning a song in Japanese. Well, a lot of the world got blessed that morning at our “early service”. I know for certain, that I was.