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.
I came home yesterday from an extended time in Elizabeth City. I had been away almost two weeks straight- really I spent the most of my summer with my daughter and her family. Now, I am back at the rabbitpatch, for suddenly . . .it is August ! . . .and I start school on Monday.
Brant came by just after I arrived home. He, Christian and I had supper together, which was a huge consolation, for me. Brant has been working in the area, but tomorrow, he leaves for good for Wake Forest. His little son is expected in September, after all. Sydney has been patient, throughout. . .and deserves a medal. How wonderful and anxious a time, it is, awaiting the birth of your first child. All mothers remember, though decades slip by. It may not seem so, but, without doubt, the "season with child" is that remarkable. I see the mother of my first grandson, fairly alight, with hopes and dreams, and it pleases me to no end, and I am filled with joy.
Last weekend, we had a gathering at the lake to celebrate the impending birth, of the first grandson. My sister, Connie hosted the affair and her husband, Mike cooked on the grill . After a satisfying meal, a lot of us headed to the lake for a swim. The water is crystal clear with a clean, white, sandy bottom. It is also a shallow lake, so we were able to walk a long ways out -even Lyla! Mama and Daddy sat in the shade and a cool breeze blew around them. After the swim, we all had ice cream. Little Brynn was passed around like a doll and Lyla was pleased to pass out popcorn and eat ice cream with little supervision.
The days afterwards dwindled by at an alarming pace. On one day, the girls and I took a very long stroll around the village. At some point, Lyla asked me, "Are we even still in Elizabeth City?" Not long after we got back, a horrific storm popped up. It was full of "straight line winds" that brought down branches and scattered everything not nailed down. Part of the town lost power. Jenny and I both love storms, but this one was cause for concern. It did pass quickly, leaving us somewhat bewildered, by its' sudden fury.
Both of the girls love to swing. Lyla is quite accomplished now in this art. Some hours were spent under old the cypress singing, telling stories and swinging. Lyla and I made lists of birds and flowers she knew by name and sight. We recited her poems. What a goodly collection, we gathered, while Brynn cheered us on, clapping her little hands and squealing in delight.
One day, Lyla had a fever. She said her head hurt and later her stomach. She was so pitiful and slept a lot. Once she said to her mama "I don't understand what happened," through tears. Lyla has never been sick, so it was a shocking ordeal for her . A day or so later Brynn had a fever and was cranky. . . .and a few days later, Brynn started walking!
We had some visits with Aunt J -and Miss Thelma. One afternoon, Miss Thelma and I cooked together. Those were golden hours. Lyla and I watched Venus rise and the moon grow to its' fullness. We listened to Andre Bocelli and one day, I made a new friend, who lives down the street, while the girls and I were on a walk. Will and Lyla picked a few figs from the little tree, that Lyla sings to. We went to the book store and ice cream parlors , Brynn learned to say "Lyla - and Lyla danced around the willow tree most days. . til suddenly it was August . . and the roses faded . . . and the dragonflies came.
These are some of the contents of my summer. I will not deny that I will sorely miss the liberty that affords me such pleasures. It does not bother me in the least, that I did not see distant shores, for I have found that I am most content in the company of loved ones. I needn't stray far for "Divine" , for I am as close and surrounded as I can be, in the shade of an old tree. Venus shines most brilliantly, when I am holding Lylas' hand and a sparse meal in the company of my daughter, is worth a Kings" ransom. There is wonder and enduring beauty -genuine and as rare as fine pearls, in the union of my parents. . . and joy, unbridled and without rival, as we await the birth of a child. I have listened to the dreams of my sons and sung songs to Brynn.
Surely, the summer, even in its' haste, did not leave me empty handed, but instead bestowed gifts generously and without ceasing. Now, in the twilight of the season, I remember these things, fondly . . . and with gratitude.