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.
It is early morning now and pitch dark at the rabbitpatch. I seldom let an opportunity to complain about "changing the clocks"
go by. I always dread it and have never thought it made good sense. I was in Elizabeth City this weekend, when the awful thing happened. I was up quite early on Sunday morning , cooking beans for Miss Thelma and making several dishes to leave for Jenny and Tres too. I made the mistake of relying on the clock on the stove, thinking that like every other clock in the house, it had automatically "set itself"
. I was wrong. Jenny came in and reset the stove, and so I knew then, that I didn't have quite the head start on the day as I had imagined. Then, on that beautiful clear morning - the power went out! Of course, I had muffins in the oven. I have no idea how long the power was out, but I guessed it to be around thirty minutes. When the power came back, the stove flashed and had no more idea of the time, than I did. If it had all happened on Saturday, I wouldn't have thought twice about it, but I leave on Sundays, and so there is some loose schedule to adhere to.
Will, Jenny, Tres and Sarah were going out for brunch, so I was determined to get all my cooking done, before they left, for I was watching the girls. Lyla, at four is easy as pie, but Brynn is likely to do anything at any given moment and requires your full attention. In the midst of all that, Miss Thelma called and needed a ride to Church. I asked her when she needed to leave and she said "right now, but take your time."
I would have laughed, but I was still in pajamas. I stopped everything and threw the first things on that I found. I picked her up and she looked so beautiful, neat as a pin, in her fancy clothes. I looked like a gardener, beside her. I walked her in the Church as the congregation was singing, a holy song. I did my best, not to make eye contact with anyone, for I realised that I had not even combed my hair!
It was mid afternoon, before I knew the correct time . The muffins turned out fine, though they did not brown.
When the dust had settled, I took Lyla and Brynn outside for a walk. Jenny has a double stroller for them and pushing it, is not for the faint of heart . . literally. The "laughing river"
rolled cheerfully along and was as blue as could be. All sorts of birds were singing . . .and confederate violets were everywhere. We stopped on the way back, for Lyla to gather a few. Her little hands are always full of wilted flowers, when we arrive home.
Not long, after we returned, Will, Jenny, Tres and Sarah returned, as well. They all sat in the kitchen, while I attempted to make "caramel dumplings"
. It was a recipe, that Sarahs' "North Dakota" grandmother used to make for her and goodness, I was nervous . First it was something new for me, and it required a recipe-and Sarah really loved her grandmothers' dish. I had already followed one recipe this day, when I made the muffins! Some people love a recipe and will not cook without one-I on the other hand, do not even know where my measuring spoons are. You can believe that I used Jennys' spoons and cups, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, for I wanted it to be just like the dish that Sarah remembered.
I left shortly after they came out of the oven. Sarah approved them and so I happily promised to make them again.
The ride home went quickly and safely, thankfully. I always feel melancholy on the way home, but at the same time I miss Christian and the boxer and the gray cat. I miss the old oaks, for they are dependable friends and have been for more than a decade now. I consoled myself, that next weekend, everyone is coming on Sunday, for Daddys' eighty-fifth birthday party.
Last week, was not a good week for Daddy. . . so it was not a good week for any of us, either. Now, not one of us will be completely spared of trials, but that is of little comfort, when you are in the midst of them.
We all travel a "valley" in some season and in our own fashion. I walk quietly and prayerfully. I do not utter a word for long stretches and just observe where I am. It is a heart wrenching and sorrowful place, and oh, how I miss "yesterdays'"
, familiar, happy hilltops, but I am not alone in that valley, for the presence of God seems to hover all around me. Without "sight", I am forced to walk by "faith"
. . . and beyond my wildest imagination, I finally realise there is such liberation in that,. I do not need to see the answer, nor create an order for the jumbled up thoughts. I just need to walk and I find out, that the valley is a "holy place" .
It certainly seems like an early spring has come to the rabbitpatch. The snow is long gone, but the stalwart daffodils remain. Tulip trees, with their fleeting beauty, are blooming and the bees have made their presence known. The first of the wild violets peek out shyly, along the footpath to the garden. Now and then, it rains, which is the way of spring.
The calendar proclaims that spring is a few weeks away, but the earth says differently. Whatever, this time is called. . . all kinds of violets are blooming . . . and the days are so lovely.