Monday, July 13, 2015

THE TAIL OF MUNCHKIN

Photo of dill plant chewed off at base by rabbit
Clipped off dill
What a joy it is to plant a herb garden and harvest the herbs to season fresh, home-cooked food! And what a bummer it is to find some of the herbs with their necks broken or the plants neatly clipped off at the base. And the culprit? A Roving Rabbit!

Illustration of rabbit by Diane M. Moore
Satisfied Rabbit 
What a good idea my mother had when she cooked rabbit stew in a big black pot in an open fireplace! What better use could one find for these critters that rabbit lovers claim love basil, dill, cilantro, mint, oregano, parley, rosemary, sage, and thyme—all of the plants that we selected for our small herb garden. I'm just sorry that we didn't plant chives because those fat brown bunnies that steal into our garden at dawn and dusk dislike this particular herb. Rabbit lovers tout that melons, apples, peaches, strawberries, and plums are delicious desserts for Peter Cottontail, so I'm thankful we don't have any fruit trees in the yard.

I've read that Hollywood gives these critters the names of stars; e.g., for females: Madonna, Scarlett, and Drew; and for males: Ozzy, Leonardo, and Brad. And for those "rabbitsieurs" who adopt the bunnies and think they're adorable pets: Sweet Pea, Peony, Jasmine, and Buttercup suffice as cutesy names. Frankly, I prefer the more apt moniker of Munchkin.


Of course, these creatures have been immortalized in literature by writers of books for children like Thornton Burgess who placed Peter Cottontail roaming in green meadows and green forests (one of my mother's favorite bedtime readings to us) and Peter Rabbit whose father had an accident and was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor in the Tale of Peter Rabbit. The latter bunny gained everlasting fame with 45 million readers, and his story was translated into 36 languages (do you think it had anything to do with the mention of rabbit pie?).

Maybe people love these little animals because the appearance of a rabbit in the yard or in a dream foretells a favorable turn of events. However, Jung says that if you dream about rabbits, you're experiencing a threat to certain freedoms—he didn't name the freedoms, but I'd venture to say that one of those freedoms is the freedom to plant a herb garden that will thrive without Munchkin nibbling away at those delicious seasonings for stews, soups, salads, and vegetables.

The only consolation I have about Munchkin destroying our dill is that rabbit lovers warn against the bunnies developing digestive upsets when they first taste their paradisiacal fruit. In that case, I hope the dill did its dirty work. I've read that hay is good for overweight rabbits, and I'm thinking of buying a bale of hay to spread on the perimeter of the yard and around the herb beds.

My good friend, Janet Faulk-Gonzales, believes that rabbits live on the moon, a story that exists in many cultures, including the Aztec one to which she is attracted, and I'm wondering if I could entice a crew from NASA to come to the Mountain and capture Munchkin to take on one of their moon voyages. ("The Rabbit in the Moon" is a story Janet wrote in a book she and I co-authored entitled Porch Posts).


Or, better still, I think that my mother's recipe for rabbit stew may be somewhere in my trove of cookbooks. Think of how delicious this stew would be with all those ingested seasonings bubbling in the pot!


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