Running with Hares, a Personal Reflection by Sara Wright


 

An overturned bowl
of starflakes,
lays down a new
pearl white blanket.
Earthbound
I shovel –
Silvery showers obscure –
and some paths
are slippery
in the dark.
Grooming a circle
round and round
I attend to listening.

When day cares intervene –
naught but Silence
though I try
to feel –  to sense
pure Voices
rising from
frozen ground.
Instead,
monotonous
gray seeps
through me
like a sieve.
Prickling skin
grows taut.

Some days
lonely for
thrumming
I neglect
to stay present
for Silence
as an end
in Herself.
Seeking change
I forget
to breathe
into Now.

Pictures of two rabbits

Imagining
frozen ice crystals
parting
to reveal
cobalt blue –
a New Mexican
sky vault
but one
without
West Wind’s
churning –
Time to
remember!
The Eye of the Sun
stings sensitive eyes.
Too much
white glare blinds.

My reverie is broken
by Hare.
“Winter doesn’t sever
you from
mountain valleys,
or steal light
and bury it.
It simply asks you
to be still.
This season courts
Silence more
than Sound.”
It was then
that I heard them,
the flutter of
Whistling Wings…

So today I
tend to the Hare
who leapt out
of predawn shadows.
I follow Her tracks
resolutely,
traversing forest trails
to greet the
whish and swell of
long needled pines
bowed under
heavy clumps of snow.
The Soul of the Earth
is wide awake,
mediating winter blues.
White Rabbit is conjuring
with Witching ears…

Glimpsing browning earth,
under silvery sparks
I hear birds singing.
Oh, the gift of flowing water,
thawing ice, a symphony
of doves…

Not yet.

For now
the hare and I
tread lightly,
snow hopping,
thankful
for what is –
breathing in Silence
as an end
in Herself.
The Forest
is still deep
in slumber
though root
tips are on fire –
lighting
our way
Underground.

I almost never glimpse a rabbit or hare until spring but am much aware of their presence as I snowshoe over the tracks they make on my woodland trails all winter. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I inadvertently invoked lagomorphs in this poem since these two animals have been with me all winter long! I have always found it odd that both rabbits and hares live on this one piece of property. Albeit totally invisible during the winter. At this time of year I begin to yearn for an end to winter white. Both Rabbit and Hare remind me that I need to reign in my longings.

I have a life long history with rabbits because I have loved them since I was a child, raised many, most of which got away. As an adult I continued this practice of acquiring rabbits as pets until their uncanny escapes finally brought me to the realization that rabbits were not supposed to be pets (at least for me), even when raised in captivity as ‘domestic’ animals. Unfortunately this took years; I am a slow learner.

The very last rabbit I had was an orphan I had no intention of getting after the bears let the last two go. But my vet advised me that “the orphan had no home”, and thus the deed was done. Naturally, this animal got free almost immediately and every time I almost caught him, he would jump high in the air and twist himself around like a whirling dervish to escape my frustrated grasp. Worse, I was convinced he enjoyed our daily three – week chase. Although I finally trapped this tricky little character, I let him go as soon as he was old enough to care for himself.

I don’t remember when it occurred to me that this pattern of ongoing escapes might be trying to bring rabbit as trickster to my attention! I guess it will come as no surprise to the reader that I am easily hoodwinked.

In world mythology both the hare and the rabbit are ancient archetypal figures associated with the Great Mother that stretch across cultures in Europe and Asia and Indigenous America. Freya, one of my favorites is a European goddess of winter who controls the weather riding through the night in a chariot that is drawn by rabbits or hares (depending upon the version).

One curious aspect of some myths is that a rabbit or hare lives with his grandmother in the moon. In these stories the rabbit/hare is not only a male, but also has a trickster shape-shifting aspect with ambivalent qualities. I immediately think of the patriarchal “either or” way of thinking – black or white – but never “both and.”

Grandmother Moon demonstrates the “both and” principle by not only containing the male/masculine but identifying parts of him as trickster in stories and myth. What’s interesting to me about this poem is that it is the female (or perhaps androgynous) HARE aspect of the goddess or nature that keeps returning me to the importance of staying in the present. The trickster aspect is RABBIT a domesticated animal who repeatedly attempts to seduce me through my own imagination painting pictures of a future that keeps me out of now. What I have learned by writing this poem is that for me there is a real difference between the two – one suggests culture, the other wild nature.

 

Postscript:

When I was searching for an image I came across countless baby rabbit pictures. Even with my history I am still seduced by those images – bunnies look so innocent and helpless. Rabbits not hares – Hares do not appeal to me in the same way.

My lifetime experience with so called domesticated rabbits has called into question the issue of domestication for me. I do know that domesticated rabbits are closely related to wild cottontails and because it is clear that interbreeding occurs between the two I could be criticized for introducing an invasive species or something to that effect.

Yet as a naturalist I have witnessed so many of my rabbits adapting to the field and forest around my house that I suspect domestication might be more about perception than reality, although DNA evidence does show some changes….I think this is an ongoing process that can still be easily reversed. Trickster rises again!

 

Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.



Categories: animals, Earth-based spirituality, Ecofeminism, interspecies relationality, Nature, Women's Spirituality

Tags: , , ,

12 replies

  1. A beautiful poem! I have had a rabbit or hare living near my house for a year or so and I have enjoyed our communing. She (I have no idea of the gender, but I’ll say “she”!) enjoys munching on my garden, which she accesses by sitting in my driveway and chewing on the delicate weeds at the edge. If I drive in unexpectedly, she just looks at me as if to say “I’ll be done lunching in a few minutes. You can just wait to park your car” (and I do). I have seen her once this winter when she was hanging out next to my car and appeared when I backed up. She just calmly burrowed into the snowbank. I look forward to seeing her again in the spring.

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  2. Gosh, I don’t know what happens to these pieces I write – The paragraphs are gone and there is no separation between the poem or prose and my reflections – I think this blurring makes it hard to understand the points I am trying to make…. hmmm.

    I love hearing about your experience with rabbits… they are fascinating animals, and unlike hares we often get to see them. During the spring summer and fall I also see rabbits especially early in the morning…Unlike you I never see them in the winter – though I look for their burrows they hide them well – and then there is the snow.

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  3. Beautiful poem! Delightful post! Thank you!

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  4. Cool poem! When I was very young, my aunt and uncle adopted a rabbit. All I remember about it is that it was white and very shy. All these years later, I wonder about the wisdom of capturing and taming wild creatures, but how could that rabbit live in a city? How did that rabbit come to them? (Later, they adopted several cats from shelters.) It’s good to take care of rabbits and hares who need a home. Blessings to you and all the hares and rabbits you cared for.

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  5. Gorgeous poem, and so much to think about! Thank you, Sara.

    One thought, picking up on pet rabbits: I’ve pondered the idea of “domestic animals” a lot, having been the helpmate for my husband’s vision of a small farm with goats, etc., for 30 years (Note, he is a true coyote himself — in the trickster sense, but no hunting instinct). I think the whole idea of being domesticated is the wrong paradigm. Various highly “bred” animals may be somewhat helpless in the wild when first liberated, but on the whole I think it’s a question of where each individual is on a spectrum of compliant non-compliant when within a human domain. I haven’t seen any farm animals, even the least spirited like sheep, have trouble using their natural instincts when given any freedom at all.

    An aside, there has been a rabbit burrow next to our (dogs + me) walking path for a couple years and it always stays clear, now through 2 feet of snow, but we never see the actual rabbit(s) in winter either, although they’re always dashing just out of the dogs’ reach during the other seasons.

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  6. I was very interested in your remarks about domestication because I do know that there are DNA changes that occur when animals go through this process – but my sense is that the changes are superficial – and you confirm that idea with your experiences.

    I did live with cattle in New Mexico and I think these animals may be an exception – there is a dullness to them that is palpable – a sense that no one is home. The more I was around them – they are free to graze anywhere and have ruined the fragile high desert because they are not fed – the stronger that sense became.

    With one exception – Given the opportunity they will escape fence enclosures – but then most are starving – this is a situation where everybody loses – and the answer? Eat less beef. I’m an omnivore but beef was hard for me to choke down because I knew how these animals are raised – and after living with them – well, that did it. No beef for me.

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    • I almost never eat beef, it just feels wrong inside my body. But I’ve known many farmers who give their beef cows a lovely life, getting to graze all year, wander far, come in for shelter if they want, and keep their babies with them. When one is to be taken for meat, the farmer kills them in the field so they never even have fear much less suffering. I feel like if one needs to eat meat then actually this is the kindest way and type of meat. Smaller animals don’t stand still when approached.

      I agree with you that they seem so unalert, but I think that’s just their nature. They are big and tough and don’t have a lot to fear in the wild. All they need to do all day is graze or chew cud, and run if the relatively rare top predator does get too close. But that’s why they have those big scary horns. I think we all only develop the alertness we need in a survival sense. Many humans think about a lot of things other than survival — we seem to be makers and storytellers — but I’d argue that there are many of us who’d happily not think at all and just graze and sleep ;-)

      An aside, I don’t know if it’s classified as a DNA change, but various dog breeds who are subject to tail “docking” will begin to have some born with various lengths of short stub tails in an astonishingly short number of generations. Makes me think our current categories, such as evolution being very long and impersonal, aren’t on the mark. This example suggests to me some incontrovertible proof of the idea of a particular overarching spirit for each type of being. Why subject its own physical manifestations to needless suffering? Just dispense with what is tempting the obnoxious humans.

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      • Oh and, speak of the trickster, last night at dusk I was sitting in my reading chair by the window and noted a dark movement outside from the corner of my eye. A big brown rabbit, ambling its way along the side of the house! Like you i’ve seen tracks in the snow, but no actual sightings since October.

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