Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wicked Warnings and Rabbit Reminiscences

“Don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”
—from The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

As a child, I think I more readily took to heart the advice I read in my books than the advice my elders offered me. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near Mr. McGregor’s garden, but I failed to listen to the adults who told me to “leave the baby bunny alone.”

How could I? The poor thing was orphaned in a tragic mowing accident, losing not only her mother but her siblings as well. I named her Rosie; I’ve no idea why. I cried for her loss and burst with happiness that she was to become part of our family. I placed her in a box and fashioned a little nest for her. I promised to protect her and nourish her and be her best pal. I pledged my undying devotion to her and, in the end, I killed her.

I didn’t mean to. If anyone had told me that I could fatally traumatize her simply by holding her too much, I didn’t hear it. More likely I was told to “let the bunny be”; the consequences weren’t specified.

I killed my one and only bunny—about the size of a mouse—with misplaced love. It was my first hard lesson in the ways of nature and the differences between the wild and the domesticated. I’m embarrassed to admit that subsequent lessons followed.

I eventually learned my place in the animals’ world. Rosie comes to mind often, but especially at Eastertime when bunnies are front and center. Though I grieve Rosie’s passing, I’m grateful for what she taught me.

[Pictured is Beatrix Potter with her leashed bunny. Drawing by Hans Hoffmann.]

For additional bunny-related posts on Lull, see “How to Make Everybunny Happy,” “Here Comes Peter Cottontail…” and “I.Q. Reexamined”; for previous Easter-related posts, see “It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again” and “The Marble Truth of Easter.”

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