Happy as a Lark | Beaufort County Now

The new year is almost "old news" now. Parties have ceased and supper has resumed in routine to ordinary food in ordinary dishes. Rabbit Patch
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Happy as a Lark

    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 new year is almost "old news" now. Parties have ceased and supper has resumed in routine to ordinary food in ordinary dishes. The children at school are not nearly as shocked with the year being 2020, as I am. I never even got over the year being 2000! It is still as unbelievable to me, as it was in my youth, to imagine.

    New Years day was as clear a day as I have ever seen. It was chilly enough to warrant a coat. I was cooking cabbage by seven and rolling pastry out shortly after for the big pot of stewed chicken. Today, we were having a mid day meal at "Aunt Js'" home. which is only five minutes from Will and Jennys' home.

    Aunt J is Wills' aunt, and was the sister of his mother, " Miss Claudia". I liked her the first time I met her. She was a teacher and eventually ended up becoming a principle, before her retirement. It seems, she has also had a hand in tending to every child born in the family, as well. I can say with all certainty . . that everybody loves Aunt J.

    We all enjoyed the meal. Brynn ate black eyed peas, cabbage and chicken & pastry along with the rest of us . . .Lyla, ate a jelly sandwich, for she is a picky eater. She eats a lot of fruit and vegetables too, though she has no idea about the vegetables, for Jenny has become an expert at hiding things like spinach in her diet.

    Since Aunt J was sick at Christmas, this day we exchanged presents. Poor Aunt J was already struggling with the first Christmas without her sister. She had already cried, because I made that "orange ambrosia" that she and Miss Claudia loved-now, she cried again, when she got several framed pictures of Miss Claudia, in her first gift. I encouraged her to open my gift knowing soap and candy were not likely to make her cry. We did all laugh about that, later.

    We had pie for dessert. It was a chess pie made with a recipe from Sydneys' dad. I had never cooked from this recipe, but had heard Jasons' praises sung, often about this pie-amongst other things. I had even interrupted their dinner, the night before in quite a state because neither of my pies had "set" and I was sure they never would . . .but they did, as Jason had said they would , as he was having dinner.

    As soon as we got back, Jenny got Brynn to sleep, and I fixed a plate for Miss Thelma. This time I would stay long enough to visit.

    By the time I got back, Brynn was awake and Will had fallen asleep. I had to return to work on Thursday, so I left, to get back to the rabbitpatch, before dark.

    I was welcomed with open arms - and paws. The "icing on my cake" was that Tres would be there shortly, as well. He had left Wilmington . . .with all he owned, so he wasn't going back anytime soon. I can not scarce take it in . . .Tres will be here a few weeks, until his move to Elizabeth City, to start school in January. Sometimes I get to say this . . "I am happier than any lark, ever dared to be!" . . .Today, was one of those times!

    If you visit the rabbitpatch regularly, you are well aware that I go "kicking and screaming" in to modern notions. I do not rush headlong into every new way of doing things, for sometimes I get that option. To me, trends are too temporary and hold little allure for me, whether it is fashion or hairstyles or contraptions which are outdated quickly. . . until now. The first time that my "pride went before a fall" was in April. Brant and Tres bought me a firestick for my birthday. Brant installed the thing and I cancelled my very expensive cable service immediately. Now I could watch my old movies and documentaries for FREE! I could watch artists paint and listen to lectures . . and it didn't cost me a dime!! I am still liable to applaud if someone asks if I like it! . . .Well, it has happened again.

    For several years, I have told my children, not to buy me gifts. One day, I am going to move and I might want new towels to match the kitchen or a rose bush to plant in the spring. Jenny never listens and neither do the rest of them. This year Jenny gave me some version of "an Alexa". Jenny has had one for a few years and frankly, I saw little use for the thing at first. Then, Lyla and I started to listen to music as we baked and that softened my attitude, somewhat. Then, I liked that I could ask what those odd terms that the British use in recipes, really meant. Jenny asked about the weather, and I liked that too. So . . . Tres installed the thing . . .and I immediately asked about the weather. I set an alarm and woke to gentle chimes instead of the usual blasting and frantic serenade, I was used to. Now, the thing has a lot of sophisticated features that I may never use, but when I am washing dishes and wondering about things like tulips or who wrote "The Catcher in the Rye" . . .Well, the thing knows all of that. . .and how the "Dog Star" got its' name, too. The biggest selling point is that "Yo-Yo Ma" will play the cello at the "drop of a Hat" if I but beckon.

    It seems "an old dog can learn new tricks" -it may just take a little longer.

    On Saturday morning, I woke to a howling wind and rain. I didn't care, for Tres was home, I took great joy in that. For many years, Tres lived in Wilmington and I never saw him enough to suit me. He will leave this week end to get settled in Elizabeth City, to further his education. I have known this for months, but it just seemed too good to be true.

    Last night, Tres, Kyle and Christian were here and the farmhouse, felt like it used to - in those beautiful days, before the children grew and scattered. So on this morning, I let the thing wash over me all over again. . .just like the rain, outside of the window, by the "morning table". It would be a few hours before any of them stirred, anyway, I made coffee and settled in to bask in the goodness of this morning.

    After breakfast, Tres, had several projects in mind for the old farmhouse. He started on one straight away. He has more plans that will take up the whole week. They are all long overdue repairs, but I haven't an inkling of any sort of business that involves tools. The Warren family is composed of two types of people . . .mostly -artists, mainly writers and musicians . . . or mechanics. It seems you get one or the other capability. Family reunions meant every hood was raised and motors checked, while some of us were singing. Of course, I was singing.

    The week end rushed by, as it always does. Tres and Christian had eaten well, tackled several projects and we all shared lively conversations. On Monday, I regretted having to go back to work, but I did notice, that I actually had a spring in my step as I walked out the door. I had a good supper planned and would look forward to that time all day.

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