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.
Suddenly it is October! I know because the mailbox was stacked full of bills. The leaves weren't saying so, nor the climate, for it is still hot at the rabbitpatch! The reliable window fans make all the difference. The night air is a welcome relief from the heat of the afternoon.
For most of my adult life, October was the month, the first fire of the season was made. Unless, things take a drastic turn, that is as highly unlikely, this year as it was last year. We are still battling mosquitoes, at the moment. A cooler weekend is in the forecast, at least. If it holds true, I hope to take a walk by my old friend, "the Laughing River", for tomorrow, I leave for Elizabeth City, where my very darling granddaughters abide.
Friday has a different feel to it during the school year . It is a light hearted feeling. This is not so in months like July. The liberty of summer does not distinguish a Friday, from the other week days. The hours passed and before I knew it, I was on that familiar stretch of highway, driving past massive fields of cotton . "Snow has blossomed, I thought, for that is what a cotton field looks like this time of year. Then there were the fields of hay. Some fields were picked and hay bales lined the road for miles. October is a golden time in the country. The absence of rain and the abundance of sunshine, are favorable conditions for farmers, now.
I crossed the three rivers and how lovely to see the bright blue water shining and fairly sparkling . The whole world seemed happy in those moments.
Lyla bounded out the back door, calling out "Honeybee!!" when I drove up, and little Brynn smiled and clapped her hands.
I had barely brought my bags in, when it was time to go again. The "artwalk" a monthly event in Elizabeth City was that night. It is one of the things I like about the town. Artists are encouraged to thrive. Whether you are a painter or a potter, a cake decorator , arrange flowers, or a musician, you are honored, in the small town. One shop gave out pumpkins to be decorated and the Flour Girls bakery gave out cupcakes, for children to decorate. Lyla was as "happy as a lark" with such activities and was especially pleased with her pumpkin.
Saturday was cooler, as was predicted. It was so pleasant to feel an autumn breeze, at long last. I have lived my entire life in the south, and just when I think I will surely perish, an autumn breeze blows and my good nature is restored.
Lyla and I sat outside. I told stories about our imaginary community. There are a lot of dolls in the community with names like "Marigold, Gypsy and Helen". They are bakers and librarians and the Nutcracker keeps the peace, when there are squabbles. A rabbit named Cookie, just went to court, for trespassing and a baby named "Snapdragon" was just born to a friendly witch named Clara. Lyla helps solve problems and gives advice to the Nutcracker, on how to keep peace in the land. A lot can happen in those afternoons when we are telling a story. It is the easiest way I know of to teach compassion, forgiveness and disappointment, for things are not always "fair" in story land, either. . .though all in all, it is a happy place.
Brynn and I spent time on the porch. I would name the things we saw, til I could say words like trees, water and pumpkins, and she would point to the subjects. Brynn loves the porch. . .the swing , especially. When she is "out of sorts" that swing acts like a tonic, on her.
Now science has proven the benefits of swinging-but I knew, already for I have sought the comfort of an old swing on many occasions, myself. Brynn knows too. It seems there is always some study going on -and it will make you shudder to think of the money spent -only to conclude a lot of things, which our elders knew by instinct. . .or by observation.
Lyla was drawing pictures, before breakfast on Sunday morning. Her Aunt Sydney is a bonafide artist and had given Lyla a very nice collection of pencils, markers and crayons, on our visit to meet baby Ryan. Lyla, has made good use of them, ever since. I wondered if Lyla, was like me, waking up full of notions to create, in the first hours of day. ( I love to write in the mornings.)
She drew pictures of us at night, and in all the seasons. I treasure her art, for to me, these are her journals. She is drawing her memories and things hoped for, after all. Lyla takes her drawing seriously , just as her uncle Christian always has.
Will and Jenny decorated the house for autumn and how lovely it looked. Lyla was thrilled as she loves to decorate as much as Miss Claudia ever did. We had an early supper on Sunday and I left with barely enough time to make it home before dark.
I left under a sky the color of apricots. The glow of the light turned everything a warm shade of tawny gold . The water and cotton fields, all seemed to be celebrating early autumn in the twilight hour. I felt content to have had such a weekend. It may sound a bit too ordinary, for many. But, to me it was grand. I cherish stories told under the stars and songs sung in a porch swing. There is an undeniable magic present under such circumstances. It is not idle time, to hold the beloved children, nor to imagine, with them, but instead a deep understanding of one another unfolds- and if there is anything left to wish for . . . .then I don't know about it.