Publisher's note: Please join me in welcoming Author Michele Rhem, who presents us with her poignant memoirs of the Rabbit Patch, where her diaries weave tales of a simpler, expressive life lost to many, but gathered together in her most familiar environs - the Rabbit Patch.
The grass is greener at the "rabbit patch" these days. Part of it may be due to the drenching rains in May. There is something about rain water. I collect it for my house plants now, but when I was young, I used to set out a large bowl to catch the rain in, to rinse my hair . Rain water softens hair- and greens the grass.
On the days it didn't rain, I worked on the territory. It was hard going work, but rewarding. There were fires in the garden to tend on a regular basis. I tamed all sorts of vines . . .temporarily, at least. On breaks, I went to my "Church in the wild wood" which is really, what used to be my grandmothers' front porch. It sits at the back of the property by the edge of a field - and where the pecan trees grow. It is my favorite place on the rabbit patch. I have watched the sun and the moon, rise over the field, from the "chapel", by the little pasture. I have laid down my burdens there and sang praises. I have mourned there . . and celebrated. I have watched the rain fall and the blackbirds fly. I have stood by the little gate . . .where my grandmother did . . . and remembered her. I suppose, this is why the "Church in the Wild Wood" is my favorite place on the territory.
Something odd happened yesterday. I was admiring the results of my recent endeavors and showing off the rabbit patch to a prospective buyer, when a huge raccoon lumbered out of the azaleas and within a foot of my cat, Christopher Robin. This frightened me to no end, as I was sure a horrid tragedy was about to unfold before my eyes. The breath left my body and rendered me speechless. I took off in the fastest gallop I could muster to the backdoor and let my dog, Cash out. Cash ran straight-a-way to the problem without a word from me. The raccoon ran off and the whole ordeal was over. When I could speak, I asked the shocked guests, if they were scared of dogs, between shallow breaths. Thankfully, they were huge fans of dogs . . .and cats. The only thing I could say next was "I am not at my best and need a minute to recover." Ironically, the first place we had planned to explore was the wooded path. Somehow, I managed the trek, though my heart raced wildly for a good while. Cash, being quite proud of himself pranced along proudly on the hike. When we were back in the yard, Christopher Robin was sun bathing in the "Quiet Garden". I suppose he was not at all concerned, as his "nine lives" was still intact.
The rest of the tour was uneventful and went well. The folks said they were quite interested and so, when it was all over, I went to the "Church in the Wild Wood" and said a prayer for all of us.
It was a sweet and unfamiliar feeling to wake up, this morning, without an agenda of any sort. There was no dreaded task awaiting, this day. The barns and yard were in good order. The house was tidy too. I do not remember the last time I had such liberty. For a few minutes, I did not stir, but let the feeling wash over me. The morning air was cool and fragrant, perfumed with the smell of late spring.
I did not tarry long for I am never one to linger , after waking. Rae, one of my oldest and dearest friends, called just before mid morning, and said she could visit. That was wonderful news. Rae is a dependable breath of fresh air. We talk freely and have no secrets. She increases my Faith with wise words and is full of encouragement for me. I love Rae like rain.
Quickly, I set up a table and chairs outside, under the cool canopy of the sycamore trees. I gathered bunches of apple mint and made a light tea. My kitchen was bare, as I have hardly had time to shop - but I did manage to make a salad. I was finishing as Rae came in. We sat outside and bragged on our children and grandchildren. We talked about how blessed we were. We talked about the grace of God and flowers. We also talked about our old houses and photography - and ice cream and soap. We meandered around the rabbit patch and down the wooded path. What a lovely time we had. How glad I am to have a friend like Rae.
Rae left and so I decided to get a head start on cooking "Sunday Dinner" . Christian went to the grocery store and brought back the fixings for fried chicken, cabbage and brunswick stew. The cabbage and stew can be made ahead of time, so two pots were soon simmering.
Tending this rabbit patch, is no small task. I have been weary on occasion, from it. I have done a a fair share of complaining about it too. I have felt "stranded" and I have felt overwhelmed. Today, though with the roses and "Queen Annes' Lace" blooming together and the songs of birds ringing out . . .when the air was sweet and the peace of the countryside made you drowsy . . . . The grass was greener at the rabbit patch today.