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.
After a lovely weekend in Elizabeth City, some sort of plague has set in, disturbing the peace of the rabbitpatch. Christian was sick, then Tres and now I have it. It is an awful thing with fever, cough and fatigue. You are hot and then cold, and the stomach keeps you guessing on your fate. It could not have come along at a worst time, for Brant and Sydney are coming this weekend , for Mamas' birthday party. If I miss the chance to see little Ryan . . .well that is adding "insult to injury"
I have made chicken soup, stocked up on elderberry and vitamin C, made batches of pineapple juice with cinnamon, drank gallons of water and slept like a house cat. . . all to no avail, for I am still sick. Jenny has been dropping off all sorts of things for Tres. She leaves them on his porch. I want to call him, but Jenny says he is grouchy. . . .so is Christian.
I stayed home from work today, in light of the circumstances. The morning was as fair as an Easter Sunday, so I put the windows up. Fresh air can't hurt. February is full of flowers this year. Daffodils, hyacinths, quince spirea and at last some of the peach trees, too. It seems to be the same everywhere, from what I hear. A year without a winter sounds haunting to me. Now the Farmers'Almanac, did predict a mild winter . . it also predicts a storm next weekend, so time will tell.
Valentines' Day dawned without a bit of fanfare. The sky was a silvery blue and the air was still. I do hope I can at least make cookies today. I am better than I was yesterday . I thought of Lyla, who has been very excited about the holiday and has been working on her cards this week. Lyla loves holidays. She reminds me of her grandmother, Claudia, in that way.
I told Jenny, that I still remember making Valentines at school. It was second grade and I was in Mrs. Cottie Woolards' class. Mrs. Woolard was a stern, sensible woman. She was in her last years of teaching, when I had her. She had white wavy hair, which she wore up and she dressed very professional. She had seen everything twice and was not ever fooled. She was very clear on her expectations, and if we acted poorly, Mrs. Woolard, did not hesitate to correct us. She did not sugar coat anything but somehow we all left second grade with our self esteem in tact. I used to get called out for "day dreaming"- apparently it was a sin. Honestly, I was guilty, every time. I looked out the window and imagined what was going on at the farm. I was very homesick, at school. In the afternoon, Mrs. Woolard read chapter books aloud, which I loved. . .after Modern Math, which I deplored. . .but on Valentines' Day, we were given construction paper, scissors , crayons, old lace and glue -and what a big time it was. The next day, we passed them out. The boys nearly threw their cards at you, for they just wanted this part to be over. I came home from school to Mamas' heart shaped cake.
The simplest things can become memories, that last a lifetime.
When my own children were little, I made great effort to give them many cultural experiences. We took them to violin classes taught by master teachers. We attended concerts, too. These all costs a significant amount of money and were hard on our shoestring budget. We went camping a lot. We went to waterfalls-just like my friend "Anne of "Merling Muse" writes about - and apple orchards. Once,I asked Jenny what she remembers from our excursions, and she said "I think I remember a pony."
They do remember the countless hours, we took to the woods-and picnics, thankfully. . .and flying kites and playing by our pond, that they named "Florida".
The hours of the morning wafted by without warning. There were no sun rays to gauge the passage of time. It would be a good day to read and to bake cookies . . .and to daydream, of that same old farm . . . and of paper hearts and old lace .