Famous Rabbits I Have Loved

August 31st, 2017 · No Comments

Rabbits by Jane St. Clair

It’s very easy to overlook rabbits because they’re such drab little brown creatures you see every day. Rabbits are the wildflowers of the animal kingdom. We take them for granted, but we’d miss them if they weren’t around.

Personally I love rabbits. I’m always happy to come upon one, even though when a rabbit sees me, he’ll usually freeze and hide in plain sight like a two-year-old child. I love their bright black eyes and their round dewdrop bodies, punctuated by those unlikely Popsicle ears and big Clarabelle feet. I love how still they can be when they sit and eat or when they just sit and stare, and then how quickly they can move when they want to.

And those amazing back legs are always ready for take-off! And wham! bang! How they take off! Rabbits are fast –but then, they are I-run-away animals that have to flee from the I-chase-you kind.

We’ve been talking about everyday rabbits for a while, so now let’s hear it for famous rabbits. I love Bugs Bunny with his Brooklyn street-wise accent and the way he turns a carrot into a cigar. I love all the rabbits in Watership Down, but especially Fiver-the-Fearful, who has this untreated anxiety disorder that makes him psychic and able to predict disaster, so his favorite phrase is the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

Fiver’s literary opposite is Peter Rabbit, an adventurer with the courage of a lion and the heart of a Robin Hood. Peter thinks every good thing on the planet belongs to us all. I love how Peter hops into Mr. MacGregor’s Garden, ignoring the family tragedy that his father had an “accident” in that very garden and landed up in a pie.

And everyone loves Thumper, the bunny who is Bambi’s friend, if only for his prefect rabbit name. Thumper has the voice of a baby and the wonder of a child.

The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland is an anomaly as rabbits go, because I certainly don’t think of rabbits as uptight and worried about clocks and being on time. But then I never believed Br’r Rabbit actually liked sticker bushes until I moved out West, where you see rabbits in cactus patches all the time.

While I’d be very happy to encounter Thumper or Peter Rabbit, I hope I never see Harvey, the six-foot hallucination in the Jimmy Stewart movie. He may be a friendly rabbit but you never know what comes next once you start seeing six-foot tall rabbits.

So, enough for famous rabbits. Let’s return to ordinary ones. If you’re ever lucky enough to find a baby bunny, one small enough to fit in your hand, you’re in for cute overload. I once found one, and dutifully phoned the Sonora Desert Museum for help.

“If his eyes are open and he has his fur,” the expert said, “then he is able to take care of himself. Just let him loose.”
This seemed incredible and wonderful to me. It reminded me that small miracles are all around us, even in things like every day rabbits. Graham Greene said, “Mortality and death set in when you lose your curiosity and the wonder of every day.” That’s right, and it’s also right that I set him free.

What’s up, Doc?

“Mute,” Jane’s short story about a hospice clown, will be published soon in Image, a journal of art, faith and mystery. Another story Jane wrote, called “The Gerber Secret,” will appear in the next edition of Negative Capability, in a special issue devoted to secrets.

Tags: Arizona · Jane St. Clair · nature essay