“The Tie That Binds”

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In the Morning . . .

By the time the sun was up long enough, to cast its’ first slanted rays of the day, a pot of chili was simmering in the rabbit patch kitchen-so was a large pot of navy beans.  I couldn’t look forward to a “Queens’ Ball” anymore than I do to the simple backyard picnic, we are having today at my parents’ house. It doesn’t seem so long ago, that, it was a common practice, for my children and my parents to all be together.  Now, a gathering of this sort is limited to rare occasions-such as today.

I grew up on a small farm.  In those days, there were a lot of small farms.  Few young people left the farm.  I had first, second and third cousins that I grew up with as if we were brothers and sisters.  Everyday was a “family reunion”.  When someone grew up and got married, they often bought an acre or so-and stayed on.  I also had, great aunts, uncles, great grandmothers and grown up cousins-most within a five mile radius.  It was very hard to have a secret, back then.  Somehow, all things came to light by supper.  If I had played by the farm pond or someone said an ugly word, the adults knew.  I knew what my cousins got on their report cards, because such things were of great importance and the adults sought counsel of one another,if need be.  I knew  everytime,  that Faith needed stitches, not long after she knew herself- and if Aunt Josie burned a pot of sweet corn, I knew that too.  It seemed stifling at times, but it kept me from all sorts of troubles- I had “the village”  to answer to, after all.   This “way” of life did not prepare me for children growing up and ” moving off”.  So today, when we are all together, for a picnic, it is nothing less than a beautiful act of God, to me.

The Picnic

By noon, the home of my parents, was full of family-and hotdogs were cooking!  Several tables were adorned with tablecloths, blowing in the constant breeze.  The mighty sycamores shaded a good deal of the back yard.  Lyla sat contentedly with a slice of watermelon watching all of us scurrying in and out with all the necessary accessories for a picnic.  At some point, we all settled on a place to sit.  It was not uncommon, for us to move about from one table to another, if we got up for more iced tea.  In that way, we all visited with one another.  I like to watch them all conversing.  I like the chatter.  I like to see the affectionate  looks given to one another.

Mama made Tres, the only cake that he likes, for his birthday.  It is a orange and pineapple cake with a whipped cream frosting.  Lyla was especially happy about the cake.  Not long after that she was tired of everything.

Departure , from a family  gathering, takes a while.   There is food packed up and sent with folks, and pictures . . . and the good byes are heartfelt and personal. and very unhurried.  I start missing everyone as soon as they leave.  “Out of sight, out of mind” does not ring true, for mothers, when it comes to their children.

After the Picnic

I came home full of good intentions to continue where I left off with the mowing, and then planned on cleaning up a small barn.  I came in and put things away and Kyle said we ought to rest.  I thought he was right.  I sat down and within minutes-was asleep.  I roused an hour later and took off on the mower minutes later,  I mowed til I couldn’t see.  The barn remains as it was.

As I walked to the house, I remembered the night before.  Kelsey  had wanted to stay out long enough to see the “lightening bugs” come out.  We stood at the sage fields and then walked by the edge of the woods finding the first blossoms of the wild honey suckle and the last blossoms of the privets.  We saw the sunset turn the sky a shocking pink and orange -and finally the “lightening bugs”  appeared.   Tres caught one for Kelsey and she held it briefly.  He was like a “diamond that  flew away”,  I thought.    When I was  a child, it was a common practice, for children  to catch fireflies.  One time I collected a small mason jar, full of them, thinking I would have a  living nightlight.  I was too young to know to punch holes in the lid.  The next morning, to my horror, all of them were dead.  I felt awful and ashamed that I had killed such a beautiful thing.  I never did so again, believing that the world needs lightening bugs-I still believe that .

Dear Diary,  The children came home while the sage was blooming.   Four generations gathered under mighty sycamores, planted by the first generation.  it was a merry time, and one to remember.  “Blest be the the tie that binds”.