Thursday, 2 December 2010

An early frost

"April is the cruellest month", wrote Eliot. And in many respects he had a point. April is a spring month, when the strengthening sun taunts the hungry with the knowledge that abundance is just three months away. But then December is a cruel month. It's a more obviously cruel month, of course. But it's still cruel. The bitterness of the frost, the knowledge that, even as it's getting light, it will soon be dark. The 4-hour queues for the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, whatever that is.

The trouble with wild rabbits is their memories are so short. The younger ones don't even remember last winter. They have only ever known green grass, green leaves, green shoots. They look at a grey sky and the weird white crystals that cover grass and don't know what it means. They panic. They think maybe their eyesight has stopped working with colour. The older ones remember that sometimes there is crispy, white stuff on the ground but they don't remember why. So they panic as well.

There's a kind of rabbit folk memory. It says that, from time to time, the days get short and the nights get long and the place generally gets dark and cold. And in these days, says the Rabbit Unconscious, rabbits can die if they're not careful. The  memory is passed down through generations. And at times the bunnies find it unlikely. The ones born in autumn can't even imagine what "hot" feels like, how the sun looks when it's nearly overhead, what young shoots taste like on a dewy May morning. They can get snarky and say that "spring" is just a fantasy that the old ones tell to keep them digging the burrows, to give them some kind of purpose.  Some say it's just going to get colder forever.

But the old ones just nod wisely and tell them, as sure as the sun comes back each day - even when you can't see it - one day it will be warm again, and there will be carrots to eat in the Archdruid's vegetable plot. And that whatever else they do, they mustn't go losing hope and wandering off and getting eaten by the foxes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

No comments :

Post a Comment

Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl