Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

I have always loved myths and superstitions but I don't remember ever hearing the old British superstition of saying "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" as the first spoken thing on the first day of the month. Doing so is supposed to ensure good luck for the month.

Saying rabbit or rabbits in succession is still a tradition in many English speaking countries including ours, especially in the New England states. Did my Yorkshire Great-great-great grandmother, Rosina Edwards Hull (who was born 188 years ago today), bring this superstition with her to Vermont?

Some say the phrase should be "white rabbits" and that you will receive good luck, money and/or gifts that month. White rabbits conjure these:

The White Rabbit from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. "Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be too late." This was the part of our son Mark's in one of his school plays.

While daughter Kari was on the crew and helped move things around the set to indicate the presence of an invisible, six foot three and a half inch, white rabbit known as Harvey in her school's production. "Well I've wrestled with reality for thirty-five years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." (Elwood P. Dowd) The 1950 movie was based on a play written by Mary Coyle Chase.

Of course one of the earliest rabbits of importance in my life was The Easter Bunny. I imagined him as something like this one, hopping along upright on his back two feet and carrying our Easter baskets in his front paws.

It was a live baby cottontail bunny that our Dad brought in from the field for us May 3, 1958 that I also remember when thinking of rabbits. I recorded that in my diary along with getting a bottle to use for feeding it a couple days later. But I didn't write down how long we had it before it died. Memory says it wasn't very long.

In the world of domestic rabbits, I was always drawn to the French Lop Ears.

Which may explain why I loved my rabbit, Fiona (Gaelic for 'fair', 'white', 'beautiful'), so much when she was given to me as an adult.

Assuming Gr-gr-great Grandma Rosina was superstitious and did pass on the rabbit, rabbits or white rabbits saying to her daughter Agnes (seated right), her granddaughter, Flora (seated left) or her great-granddaughter, Bessie (standing right), which one of them discontinued the practice? My Grandma Bessie had so many old sayings, she had surely heard this one. It does seem like one she would tell her grandchildren. Maybe it is my memory that is imperfect.
The first words I spoke aloud this morning were "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit". Bud wondered just what was wrong with me now. I'll let you know if the month brings good luck, money or gifts. Not counting any Christmas presents, of course.

Of all things Rabbit, though, my very favorite has to be Richard Adams' book, Watership Down. "You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it's not that simple."

It has been many, many years since I read the book. I think it is time for me to read it again. "Man will never rest till they've spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals."

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