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Little Rabbit's Adventure
by Kim Conolly
There once was a Little Rabbit. Everywhere she looked her nose wanted to follow. Over the hedge yonder, her fellow kits played cotton ball. They were good friends, she loved them and they loved her. They didn't always get along, but she learned a lot when she was with them. Her mama said that was what friends were for, to help you become the best you that you could become. But some days, her best play mate was herself.
Not too far from her home, over a forested hill, was a humongous garden belonging to a Herculean human. It was beautiful! Tall turnips grew in fall, and in winter, parsnips were succulent and sweet after the first frost. But if she admitted it to herself, it was not her garden and she didn't do good things when she went there. She knew in her heart that her visits to the garden never left its neat paths and rows a better place. She knew she was upsetting the garden's owner with the messes she left behind, and she didn't want anyone's heart to hurt because of her– not even for one bite of sweet, tasty carrot. But sometimes, she was tempted.
She had her own garden as well. In her tenth year, she was expected to garden often and willingly. It was her community's “Work to Eat” program. Long despised by the littles (they hadn't had to think of such things before), she no longer had a choice. “It's time.” her mother would say as she handed her a hoe. But she wasn't good at growing things, at least not yet. She tended her patch sporadicly, because everywhere she looked her nose wanted to follow.
One day, she was bounding down a favorite rabbit trail. It was not a bunny trail. Real rabbits use rabbit trails, while baby kits use bunny trails. Bunny trails are shorter, safer, and closer to home, but rabbit trails range far and wide. As she headed down the trail, she was stopped short by a purply, pointed plant.
She'd never seen this plant before. She was still learning there was a lot she didn't know and a lot she hadn't yet seen. Deep in her heart, she recognized that the world was far bigger and wider than what she knew. Sometimes, she was tempted to believe she knew all there was to know, but of course Squirrel would remind her of reality. He saw things from up high that she'd never ever see.
And her mother had thoughts on knowing it all as well. She could often be heard telling the family to watch out for a pride that says you know it all, all the time. She preferred a youthfulness which recognizes you know it all only some of the time. “Be careful not to become a prideful youth,” her mother would say. Little Rabbit would nod and agree, for this was the easiest way with adults. But now, the purply plant reminded her that Mother was right: no one knew it all, and there were new things to discover if you were willing to look and learn. Poking out of the earth, this small, singularly beautiful, and deeply enchanting purply plant was a clear reminder she'd not yet seen the whole world.
Settling down on her haunches, she surveyed the perplexing purply plant. Should she eat it? It looked good, really good, but it was small. She rarely stopped for small things. In fact, there wasn't much that stopped her in her tracks, but this plant was beautiful. She thought of Mr. M's garden. She wasn't to snack there, even if the veggies were humongous and amazing. Maybe like Mr M's garden, she should appreciate this plant without eating it. She knew of course, that not everything was for filling one's belly or one's pleasure alone, but her curiosity got the best of her. She licked a soft petal. It had the texture of silky young lettuce, but she didn't munch down. Stepping back, she pondered the petals for a long time, and then heard her mother calling her home. She reluctantly headed in that direction, sure a chore awaited her.
Sure enough, her mother needed help with the baby kits while she ran to the nearby mulberry tree to deliver a basket of fresh greens to a sick neighbor. As her mother prepared the basket of greens, Little Rabbit tried to describe the plant, but her mother hadn't seen one before. “Mothers don't know everything.” she said. “Sometimes, you have to look and listen, and then you'll find your answer. But this takes time,” she warned.
Time. Little Rabbit never had enough. Somehow, she felt that a long time ago, she'd had a lot of time. Maybe when she was younger, like the kits. Time had been long and slow, absorbing her into it. “Does growing up mean never having enough time?” she wondered. At this age, her rabbit trails kept her busy, even before chores.
“Slow down,” her mother would say. “You're young, for Pete's sake. Be patient.”
“Who's Pete?” she'd ask.
“I'll tell you more about him later,” Mother had said, “but slow down, and stay away from human gardens. Got it?”
“Okay, I'll try.” Little Rabbit said.
When her mother returned home, she was free to head outdoors once more, and she found herself back at the purply plant. She was shocked to discover it had withered and died! Snail was sliding by and Little Rabbit asked him, “What did you do to my purply plant?”
“Nothing, young whipper snapper,” said Snail. “It always withers this time of year. Maybe the wind made it wither.”
“But I love it, and I want it to come back,” said Little Rabbit.
“It will be back,” said the Snail. “Give it time.”
“I will sit here until it comes back,” thought Little Rabbit, but soon the afternoon sun began to sink and she heard her mother calling. She'd forgotten all about her chores. Disappointed at her lack of freedom, she headed home.
She thought silently about it all through the meal, and was now quite sure of the flower's fate. “It's gone, mama.” she said after her dinner and bath. She was tucked in bed, but she couldn't sleep for all her fretting. “It's just plain gone.” wailed Little Rabbit.
“Maybe it always goes away at this time of year,” Mother said.
“That's what Snail told me, but I don't believe him. He ate it.” Little Rabbit pronounced.
“Now listen, you have no reason to doubt him. Don't fret yourself into a bigger problem with a dear friend, even if he is different from you. Snails eat lettuce, not purple things. Besides, he moves very slowly and he's a wonderful noticer. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't miss a thing at his pace,” said Mother.
“Maybe, you're right,” said Little Rabbit, doubtfully. And she stayed awake thinking about the purply plant until she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer.
The next day her mother had loads of chores for her. Finally, just when she thought she was free, Little Rabbit was instructed to take her mother's seed list and see the Gardener at the seed exchange. “And don't get lost on some rabbit trail today,” Mother informed her.
She didn't understand the Gardener. He spoke slowly, and in language the Little Rabbit didn't always understand, but she knew the Gardener knew a lot about a lot. “If he knows so much, why is he so quiet?” Little Rabbit muttered to herself, “When I have something to say, I just say it.” She remembered Mother had said,“Some people want you to learn on your own.” She wondered if the Gardener would know about the mysterious purply plant. As she hopped towards the Gardener's shed, she wondered, “How do you ask something, when you're not sure what the question is?”
Before she knew it, she was at the door of the old rabbit's shed. The Gardener was working silently, steadily sorting and saving seeds. On the table in front of him, pouches of seeds were ready to be delivered by Benjamin. These days, everyone knew where Benny was, at any time of the day, and it sure wasn't a human garden. No, sir! He was busy delivering the Gardener's seeds over the hills and through the vales. The Gardener kept Benjamin busy helping grow new gardens, not eating his way through them. Benny's mother and the Gardener made sure Benny was constructively employed. “What an awful thing,” thought Little Rabbit, but she silently conceded that mothers and Gardeners make a hard team to beat.
Little Rabbit surveyed the airy shed. She'd never noticed all the drawings on the walls and book filled bins. Finally, she piped up,“I'm here to pick up my mother's seed order Mr. Gardener. She's ready to get planting and she doesn't want to wait for Benny to make it out to our place.”
“Spring fever is in the air.” said the Gardener. The urge to plant hits a high note right about now in our little kingdom,” he added.
“Some fresh carrots would taste good right about now,” said Little Rabbit.
“As long as you don't get it from Mr. M's place. Right?” the Gardener chimed in.
“Right,” Little Rabbit giggled. She sobered and then added, “It isn't worth the headache...or the hind-ache!”
“Your mother's packet is laying just there. In it, you'll find everything your mother loves to plant, and I added something just for you,” said the Gardener.
“Really? What?” Little Rabbit asked.
“Snail mentioned your purply plant. Tell me about it.” said the Gardener.
Should she tell the Gardener about licking the little plant? “Oh, no!” she thought, “I'll end up like Benjamin, running around on adult errands all day long!” She would leave the licking part out.
“Well, I found a beautiful purply plant on my favorite rabbit trail,” she said, “but I was not tempted to eat it, pick it, play with it, or give it away. I just enjoyed looking at it, but it withered and now I'm sad,” lamented Little Rabbit.
“You weren't tempted to taste it, not even a little lick?” the Gardener inquired.
“How did you know?” said Little Rabbit with a worried frown.
“Just a hunch,” said the Gardener with a smile. “Don't be sad. Your plant is not dead, but its bloomed as long as it can in this season of its life. It's time for it to become small once more, and gather energy from the earth, that it might grow again next year.”
“Gardener, why does it take so long to wait for something you really want to happen, but it takes no time at all for chores and bedtime to arrive?”
“Ah, that is Earth time for you, but Real Time is not like that,” remarked the Gardener. “Real Time lives in the present, and is content with what is happening here and now.”
“Well, I'll never be patient, and therefore, never know Real Time,” thought Little Rabbit sadly, but she said, “Mother says I should slow down, but I don't know how.”
“Mothers are good people, Little Rabbit, and now you best get home. I'm sure she's wondering about her seeds, and you. It will soon be dark, and that's not a time for Little Rabbit to be out and about. And don't worry, you'll not be kept busy like Benjamin – sounds like you have something you need to tend to already.” said the Gardener with a wide grin.
Tucking the envelope in her front pocket, Little Rabbit thanked him and headed home. She wondered about his words. He said seeds need time, rest, and love to grow beautiful. Did other things work that way too, she thought? And how did he know she'd licked the plant? She thought about the Gardener all the way home.
“Beauty blossoms best in its own time,” the Gardener had said. “Like the purply plant, there's a right time to burst forth and shine. All life pokes its head up, timidly at first. It's really quite hard, pushing through the hard earth. But then the plant arrives and is beautifully present. Radiant, her petals reflect the Creator's light. But her real life is hidden deep inside, and every year, her energy stores need to be replenished and renewed, and so she hides away to rest once more. You think she's died because she's withered, but she hasn't. She's soaking up energy deep under the earth. She'll be back next spring, to brighten your rabbit trail once more.”
The next morning, as the sun rose, Little Rabbit ran down her beloved rabbit trail. She felt wildly happy for she'd escaped her chores – at least for a bit. With the seed from the Gardener tucked in her pocket, she arrived at her favorite spot. Snail was not in sight. She found the withered purply plant, and decided it was not sad, nor should she be, pondering the Gardener's words once more. She dug a little hole and poked the seed into the earth. The sun, rain, and soil did their part. The seed grew and soaked up the spring rains and warm sun, then burst its casing.
Little Rabbit checked on her seed every day. Lots of other trails beckoned, but she bounded down this trail with joy. She was sure something was happening deep within the soil. The Gardener had told her, “Enjoy the wait.” He had said, “Enjoy it all,” And she did; she really did.
As she waited, she noticed the forest she had missed before, the sound of the rocky brook, and the charm of the Squirrel's tail as he bounded about the meadow for sheer exhilaration. She enjoyed his company when he would sit still. “Each new spring is like being born brand new to him,” she thought, and she marveled with him at the wonders of the fresh green valley. Spring was like a “first, everything” all over again.
She noticed the flushing of the forest evergreens, their tips hanging with a new pale green growth, and she saw buds forming in the apple orchard. The robin's breast, oh my, it was red. How had she not noticed him before in the apple orchard as the weather warmed up? He was delightful hopping about with his feathered friends. But, she saw only one bee. “Was it a scout bee?” she wondered. She hoped the bees would come soon and make a home near the orchard. She knew they were important for flowers and fruit. Her mama had called it, “poll-in-a-tion”. For the first time ever, she wondered how she might help these small creatures. Was this growing up? Caring for more than just yourself? Or was it about waiting and wanting and not noticing the waiting and wanting? She really wanted her seed to come up, but she also didn't want to rush it. She now knew it would come in its own time. Racing and rushing around would not make it come faster, nor would it make the wait longer or slower. Time just was. Time took what it needed and only that, just what it needed.
And then it happened. She and Squirrel were talking about the bees, when Snail strolled by.
“There's a present waiting for you,” said Snail.
“Oh, where? Why? It's not my birthday yet,” exclaimed Little Rabbit.
“Not that kind of present,” said Snail, “a present from the Gardener.”
“My seed!” shouted Little Rabbit and she raced to the old oak and resting purply crocus. Sure enough, a sprout was poking its way through the earth. A green snippet of life. “Oh, what could it be!” she wondered as she raced home. Bursting through the warren, she exclaimed, “Mama! Mama! Come see! I grew something beautiful!” And having finished her pronouncement, she bounded out the door once more, and headed to where the forest meets the meadow and good things grow.
Copyright 2014 Kim Conolly
Copyright 2014 Kim Conolly