Thanksgiving Day at the Rabbit Patch | Eastern North Carolina Now

    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.

    Early Morning

    Not yet, has the sun risen at the rabbit patch, but I have been up a while. Moon Shine sent something crashing and shattering - and that worked better than any alarm clock. After surveying the damage, I went out to a mild morning with a pink, cloud covered sky. I smelled rain and so will check the forecast shortly. The turkey is on and I will make biscuits next. Coffee greatly improves my chances of figuring out what to do about sugar. I ran out making pies, last night.

    I am watching "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" in intervals, while the biscuits are cooking. I love old movies best. I found some brown sugar and that will do for any other concoction that requires sugar- with the exception of ice tea.

    I was right about rain. I never did check the forecast. I knew an hour ago by the sky, it was going to rain some where. It is a light rain and it sounds so very peaceful-and daddy says the weatherman "didn't call for rain no how". Kyle, went to the grocery store for sugar. His face looked the same as it did the night of the fire, when I asked him to go.


    Mr. Blandings got his dream house built and the biscuits turned out perfect. Kyle survived the grocery store and brought home the sugar. The stove is full of pots-pots of beans, potatoes -and yellow squash. The cranberry jelly is chilling and I have whipped cream with maple and cinnamon, for the pumpkin pie. The rain has been falling the whole time. It is a good thing that so many tasks are done as I can not rush when the rain falls softly.


    Mama & Daddy, Kyle, Christian and I shared a nice meal just after noon. My friend, Jo Dee had talked about a chocolate chess pie, enough to make me want one, so I fixed one. Mama and I declared it the favorite.

    Everyone has gone somewhere else now, so the kitchen is quiet. The kitchen is tidy and candles are lit. Tres will make it home before dark, so the porch light is on and the welcome lantern at the back door has a candle in it. I love waiting for my children to come home.


    Fog rolled in across the fields as the sun was setting. This is the second time I have seen this, in my life. It came in like a wave. The sun was the color of a tangerine and paired with the silver fog, it was spectacular.

    Not long after, all was safely gathered in at the rabbit patch. I snuffed out the welcome lantern at the backdoor. The boys watched football - and Kelsey and I ate pie, while we watched "Anne of Green Gables". Truly, Thanksgiving is a lovely time.     Thanksgiving Eve at the Rabbit Patch

    It is the eve of Thanksgiving. I look forward to this day about as much as the holiday, itself. Today is the day to bake pies and wash linens for overnight guests. The grocery stores are buzzing and many folks are packing their bags. Fancy dishes are being brought out from cupboards to be washed and porch lights will be left on, later than usual, to welcome loved ones home.

    I am making pumpkin, chocolate and banana cream pies, today. I am not sure why, but it just seems like pie is the traditional dessert for Thanksgiving. When my sister and I were little and took to arguing, our grandmama would say "you two would argue in a pie factory!" meaning we would rather fuss than eat pie! I can still hear her saying that, she said it so often.

    I am tidying up the old farmhouse and hoping the turkey thaws. I am making another large batch of biscuits for the "dressing"-and will light the kitchen fireplace to add to the holiday atmosphere. I have been saving some pricey candles for the holidays and they will be lit shortly.

    The weather is perfect- a cold night and a bright day ahead. Most often the trees are bare for the holiday, but this year a few colorful leaves remain boasting their tribute to autumn. I will gather a branch or two for the table. There will be wood smoke in the air from the hearth of the rabbit patch and frost will cover the pumpkins in the morning light.

    I am hoping to be up when the frost is on the pumpkins. I put the turkey on and drink coffee while the house starts to smell like Thanksgiving morning. Breakfast will be especially light, so to improve the appetite for the traditional feast.

    There is just something about Thanksgiving that stirs me deeply. I think about the first Thanksgiving, when the Native Americans gathered with those from across the ocean, who had come to make new lives. I think of the women from both sides, preparing different foods in different ways. Surely language itself, presented an obstacle. There is no telling how many practices of religion were present that day, yet in spite of all the differences, they united for a meal and gave thanks together. I suppose the children played together, as children still do today without barriers. I hope tomorrow, hearts across the nation, will unite for the sake of showing gratitude. The older I get, the more I think about such things.

    There are a lot of ways to live a life, but it seems to me, that practicing gratitude might be one of the best habits we can assume. Such a habit acts as tonic, I think- and it goes so well with pie.     Where There is Smoke

    The "old people" used to say "where there is smoke, there is fire." They said this often, when something seemed obvious, hoping we kids would learn the art of deducting facts and making conclusions. This old saying can be taken literally, as well-and I can prove it.

    Yesterday, I came home and went right to work at the rabbit patch. I put a chicken on to roast, with turnips heaped around it and started some peas on the stove. I started some laundry and decided to clean the car out while the appliances were put to good use. The cold wind on Sunday, had all but eliminated the leaves in the big yard. Somehow a few mounds lay here and there as if intentional. I decided to burn a bit of them in the garden, while I was dusting the car out.

    The sun was already casting slanted rays and just before slipping below the trees at the back of the field. There wasn't a bit of wind and I looked up to take note of the peace that evening affords. I thought the light seemed odd. It seemed to flicker. . . and then I smelled smoke. Behind a small barn, where the garden used to grow, light was jumping about. I dashed around the barn as best I could to find the garden on fire. There was spitting and hissing-and Cash took to racing around and around, almost knocking Christopher Robin sideways. Christopher Robin took refuge on the garden bench and watched the whole affair with a very judgmental air about him. Moon Shine fled like the devil himself was after him. I thought to wet the perimeter of the garden, but the water hose was hiding in the shadows between two other barns. Kyle drove up just about this time. He rushed to the crime scene, stricken with panic and yelled out about how foolish I was to undertake the task of burning the garden alone. Christopher Robin seemed to take his side, perching all high and mighty on the garden bench, waiting for my explanation.

    Kyle is a handy person and he was as good as anybody to show up. He took over, and when I remembered supper and ran to the house yelling "chicken!", he was not phased. Supper was saved and as it turns out creamed turnips are as good as I had heard they were.
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