A Late Autumn Frost | Eastern North Carolina Now

A cold rain has been falling for days. One night, there was a slight chance of snow and you know I had my heart set on it-but nary a flake fell at the rabbitpatch.

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    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.

    A cold rain has been falling for days. One night, there was a slight chance of snow and you know I had my heart set on it-but nary a flake fell at the rabbitpatch. We did get our first heavy frost - and oh, how lovely that was! The fields where corn had tasseled out, just a few short months ago, were now transformed into fields of diamonds. The first light fell in long slanted hues of peach and apricot, making quite a spectacle of the frost. The pine trees were silver and even the ditch banks were glossed with luster, this day.

    I decided then and there, that a late autumn frost, is a beautiful sight to behold.

    For the first time, in a long spell, I am at the rabbitpatch, for the weekend. Will and Jenny were attending an out of town wedding and besides the old farm house, looked like nobody loved it. There was no lack of options, on what needed to be done. Still, I moved , about as fast as "molasses in January". Outside the wind howled and at times sounded mournful. Rain came in before noon. That was only thing that caused me to hurry all day, for the line was full of slightly damp clothes.

    Brant called. He entered Ryan in a cute baby contest on a whim . . .just for fun. (And because he is sure that Ryan really is the cutest baby in the world.) Of course, it was for fun . . . until we found out that Ryan is in second place - and there is a cash prize. Now, we have all taken to campaigning for Ryan! We are a ridiculous lot.

    While, I cleaned and scrubbed, the boxer and Christopher Robin napped. The wind never stopped blowing and the clouds were so thick, that I had a lamp burning, all day.

    I rose early on Sunday. I watched the darkness fade away. The sky was the color of pewter and the wind was still blowing. As much as I love rain, I hoped today that I could line dry some blankets. Today, I would tackle the kitchen and the laundry room - and remove the sweet light florals from my closet and replace them with heavier clothes, fit for late autumn. This means unpacking boxes . . .again. I did have a "false start" with the selling the rabbitpatch last year ... right about this time.

    Oh what a dark time it was for me. . . and right at Christmas! I didn't even get the chance to "carry on" about it . . with the holidays, after all. Half of the place was packed up and I all but had the key to a dear, little cottage. When the same thing happened again in June, some of the sting was lost, because "practice does make perfect", it seemed. Now, looking back, the whole thing is amusing ... mostly. I will put the place on the market and I will hope for the best ... sometime.

    Last year was not the brightest year anyway ... at least for our family. But the sun shone fair on us some of the time. . . for though there was loss, a baby was born . . and though there was grief . . .we all renewed our strength for one another. There was some disappointment . . .but hope remained, untarnished. None of us bore any burden alone. . .nor the joys. ..and that makes the difference. So, I will not grumble as I unpack clothes that will keep me warm, for it would just be sinful, to do so.

    I trotted down the garden path, it seemed every hour on Sunday, to that clothes line. There was plenty of wind, but the clouds dimmed the sun. Once, I missed the dryer. . . but I glanced at the great trees, and that spurred me on to love the planet, as best I can. Besides, I have seen a significant decrease in the electricity bill.

    The hours passed too quickly, til Sunday became Monday. The thick clouds remained and so daybreak came without a bit of fanfare. On the way to work, I was pleasantly surprised that the relentless wind had not robbed us of the beauty of this autumn, for the woodlands were a mass of all shades of gold and crimson. There I was in my warm clothes, driving by quiet pastures and fields at rest, and autumn in its' glory ... and it moved me deeply.

    There are certain moments in every day that I love. Morning time is one of them. There is also the time when I return to the rabbitpatch, after work. The boxer makes quite a production of my arrival and Christopher Robin, my silvery gray cat purrs gently - and for some reason, I feel like I have left the world outside the drive way, for my own world, on the rabbitpatch. Then, there is the time after supper. When the house was full, and every bed occupied, it was an especially favorite time. All were gathered, safe and sound. We had reunited around the table and somehow, this time seemed to renew "the ties that bind". Now, the old house has several empty beds and vacant chairs around the table, but the time after supper is still a favorite time of day, for me. The contents of a day vary greatly, but the morning comes faithfully.

    On Wednesday morning, there was sunshine! What a welcome sight, to see the sun rise over the oldest barn. I had missed the way patches of sunlight fall on the territory, lighting up the fresh fallen leaves. The oak leaves are the color of honey and the sycamores shed a mahogany leaf. The lowly sweet gum, not beloved by many, bears all the colors of autumn-even a plum color. Under these circumstances, I will not hold a thing against the sweet gum . . .in late autumn.
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