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 drive to Elizabeth City, last Friday, was just beautiful. For now the woodlands are tinged with shades of gold and crimson ... and the sprawling fields are warm shades of russet and ginger. This is only the prelude of the splendor to come, but what a welcome sight to see the countryside proclaiming the season. The three rivers were filled with "still water" this day and looked as if they were gilded in silver. Along the banks were floating, colorful patches of scarlet and orange.
Autumn is here at last, and there is so much I look forward to . There is the first frost -and a cheerful fire - and soft blankets and books scattered throughout the farmhouse . . .well, autumn is a beloved time at the rabbitpatch.
It had been but two weeks, since I had seen my little grand daughters, but it seemed like a fortnight. Lyla came bounding out the back door squealing in delight with her little arms extended. Brynn was squealing and laughing, in Jennys' arms. It is always a merry time, when I arrive.
Within a few short hours, Lyla was tucked in "our nest" listening to stories about "the winter woods" and the doll community, with the talking kitten, that live just on the edge of them.
Saturday, was a busy day. Jenny had a brunch to attend, so Will and I took the girls to a their pediatric appointment. Afterwards, we took a walk to the park. On the way back, Lyla picked some floss flowers growing on a vacant lot, for her momma. Lyla has a very thoughtful heart, for she always thinks of others. She even had taken the doctor a piece of chocolate!
Jenny came home to a quiet house, for Brynn was napping and Lyla and I went to visit Miss Thelma, the ninety five year old neighbor.
It started raining early on Sunday. Outside it felt like early September. Lyla and I made "honey cakes" for breakfast". Afterwards, we went to the grocery. I wanted to leave my loved ones tokens of my love. Often this shows up in food. Lyla decided to draw. By early evening, I had made a large pot of chicken and broccoli soup, pimento cheese and a concoction of apples and raisins, like my Aunt Agnes used to make. Lyla had a stack of delightful pictures and had signed her name and age on each one. At long last, the food was packaged and the crayons were put away. We took Miss Thelma her share of our efforts, stocked the refrigerator and there was some to be delivered to "Aunt J", on my way home.
The sky was all sorts of colors.. At times, it was apricot, then it was lavender and finally a lovely rose seemed to bloom, in the heavens. The low lying mist looked like pink whispers hovering over the fields.
The rabbitpatch is dusted with sycamore leaves. I enjoy the coppery carpet, for about a week ... then the leaves of the great sycamores become a nuisance, for they are large and curl up, shortly after their fall. The next thing you know, you are wondering where the steps are and wading through leaves to get to the car. The territory will be in this state from now to Thanksgiving, for we are not in short supply of old trees . . . and thankfully so.
I love old trees -so much, that they are one of the first things I consider, while looking for the next rabbitpatch. Before I ever step foot in the door, I have surveyed the yard, noting what grows there and also making sure the boxer would be happy. The cat, "Christopher Robin" just wants a sunny windowsill.
The work week was a short one as Friday was a teacher work day. With Halloween being on Thursday, I took Friday off and headed back to Elizabeth City, after school on Thursday. Lyla was the cutest little witch . . .a good one she assured me and Brynn was what most babies are . . . a pumpkin! The night was warm and a constant wind blew, making it hard for Lyla to keep her hat on! We walked the little village til darkness had settled in and was as familiar as an old friend. I did not wear proper shoes and so when I got home, I knew I would sleep well this night.
Brant and Sydney sent pictures of little Ryan and what an adorable baby! I do not feel the least bit ashamed to say so, for everyone needs someone to cheer them on and love them whole heartedly , too . . .and to let them know that they are highly valued. We ought to point out everything right about our grandchildren, and in their worst moments, let them know that we believe they will do better next time.
Friday morning was close to cold! I was quite shocked when I stepped out of the back door. The sky was bright and the wind had not stopped blowing since the night before, but this wind had a chill to it. I must admit, I love this kind of weather.
I do not mind the shorter days and I do not mind the colder nights. Of course, I love every season and declare each one my favorite, upon its' arrival. In that way, I am fickle, but each season has such wonderful virtues . . . for when it snows, the whole territory seems white washed in a magical shine, then comes April and "flowers come to earth" again and then in June the wild honeysuckle blooms. . .but just now when the landscape is fairly aglow with color and the gold and ruby leaves raining down , well, I fall hopelessly in love . . . again. It seems to me each season is the best.
I do not know how Sunday arrived so quickly - most especially with that "extra hour". A lot of nice things happened, during my visit - ordinary things -things that are routine now. Lyla and I made "honey cakes", we practiced violin and told stories. We also got in several visits with Miss Thelma. Jenny and I cleaned the nursery and ended up with two bags of toys to donate. I rocked Brynn to sleep, as I did on a regular basis in the summer. There was a lot of cooking . Halloween got put away and Lyla worked on her art. Plans were made for Thanksgiving and Christmas secrets were discussed. Little Brynn loves me now more than ever and just like that . . . it was Sunday.
When, I was approaching the rabbitpatch, I saw the lights shining through the windows and that cheered me. Christian, the boxer and the cat gathered around the car. Christian helped carry every thing in. The boxer pranced around joyfully and "Christopher Robin" purred sweetly. It is always the same, but it never fails to warm my heart.