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.
Let me declare, right now, that this may be one of the loveliest autumns, the south has ever seen. Still, the golden and crimson leaves cling to the woodland trees and the neat rows of the Bradford pear, that are in a good many yards -are just spectacular. Daybreak has been brilliant and the trees are lit up with the morning shine. There has been frosts most every day which only adds to the fanfare of morning. . . and the smell of wood smoke hangs in the crisp air.
I always remember "Pop" in months like November. Pop was my mamas' dad. When, I was a child, Pop "ruled the roost". He was a prideful man and looking back, I think, a bit vain. In the spring and summer, the farm was a busy place. Every task was important and we were taught to work as if our life depended on it . . .for in some way, it really did. I learned early on to avoid Pop, if he was fixing a tractor or a set of plows, for he was apt to go to hollering at any given moment. Anyone in the vicinity of the scene was at risk of being blamed for a lost bolt or a smashed finger or a lost wrench - well whatever calamity arose. By suppertime, Pop was over his grudges and all was well. But in the autumn, when the crops were harvested and the smoke house was stocked and the pantry was full of canned vegetables, Pop wasn't nearly as cross.
I remember early mornings, when the frost was spread thick, Pop would be tending a small fire in "the lot" or inspecting the hooves of a pony. The lot was a fenced in area behind the farmhouse. A pasture was on two sides of it. Goats, a herd of ponies and a horse and for a while a mule were in the pasture. There was also a pig parlor. Sometimes Pop would be in his tool shelter taking inventory of his tools or sharpening things with blades. Pop was always in the lot doing something, but in the autumn, Pop was not so prone to cussing. In the fall, Pop was happy long before supper.
Work has been extra busy and this is the normal business for this time of the year. There have been all sorts of community service projects. Pies were delivered to the elderly, canned goods were delivered to a food pantry, baby blankets to a hospital, large baskets of household goods were given to some more seniors and we are not finished yet. It was a short work week - for Thanksgiving is tomorrow!
I started cooking last night for our gathering. I cooked enough collards to feed Atlanta! . . .and the fine city can also have biscuits! I use the biscuits to make stuffing, so they were put in the refrigerator , minus a few, that were eaten hot-and with butter. On Thursday morning, I will haul my wares to Mama and Daddys' where My sisters and I will join forces to make this Thanksgiving another beautiful memory.
After school on Wednesday, Christian and I took up housekeeping . . .again. Tres comes home tonight and that was all the motivation that we needed. On Friday, we head to Elizabeth City for an encore of the holiday.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, I went to sleep with a smile on my face, for Tres was home - and the house was tidy -and the kitchen counter was laden with an abundance of dishes.
Thanksgiving dawned clear and bright. Mama was cooking the turkey, so there wasn't a bit of rush about the morning. Christian had taken the day off-, and so he, Tres and I had a light breakfast and coffee. I always say that conversations with Tres are never dull. Hence we talked about the role of molecules in medical research, the future of the rabbitpatch and other things.
Finally, I can share with all of you, some good tidings . . .Against the odds, Tres is moving to Elizabeth City!! I have often bragged shamelessly about Tres' intellect- and for the record it is all true. To further his career, Tres decided to pursue another degree - some sort of science, chemical and math something. This complicated business of education is not offered everywhere and there were several universities that he looked into. Jenny did some research and found out the the university in Elizabeth City, offered a very comparable course of study . To make a long story short, Will and Jenny were of tremendous help . . .and so were Lyla and Brynn. If you think that I am thrilled, you would be "spot on" . Wilmington, was too far from the rabbitpatch to suit me, after all. It took every thing in me not to try to persuade Tres in a direction. . .but do not think for a moment that when all was said and done . . . I was happier than any lark ever dared to be.
The Thanksgiving gathering was delightful. The leaves rained down in an autumn brisk breeze while I listened to my niece, Hayleys' dreams and later we talked about the genealogy of our family, for Hayley and I share this interest. Delores made a chocolate cake, which I thought was good . . .twice. Connie did more than her fair share in the kitchen and still managed to catch up with all of our current affairs. Brant and Sydney came just past the twilight hour and so that was my special and very grand finale, to the holiday.
P.S . . and most especially . . that baby contest concludes in two days and Ryan has a fighting chance, it seems to win. Without further ado, . . .I am asking for votes again, like any good "Honeybee' should. We have two days and you can vote once a day.