Childhood Things

Current work in progress. I’m thinking about calling it “Hazel” but that’s not definite.

Rabbits creep me out. There I said it. I know, how can anyone be creeped out by cute and fuzzy little creatures that do nothing but hop around and eat vegetation all day. It seems a little silly to be the age that I am and still get this sinking feeling in my gut when I see rabbits. I wish that I could say that it’s something irrational and unfounded and that I should just get over it and get on with my life but I really do have a good explanation and it can be summed up with two words…Watership Down.

If you were a child of the 80s or earlier, you may remember Watership Down, an animated movie based of the novel of the same name by Richard Adams. I was about 9 when I saw the movie for the first and only time in my life. At that age I really wasn’t keen on understanding allegory and metaphors, so I can’t say I understood what the movie was about. All I knew was that it was animated and animation was for kids, right? So to my child mind things like themes and abstract ideas weren’t evident to me but what did stick out and has stayed with me since are the images of blood stained fields, claws, teeth, scars, foaming mouths and death. It was horrific to watch as a child. I remember nothing else and I haven’t been the same since. That change became evident to me a few years later when my mother took me on my first and only hunting trip. Up until that point I had proved I was good at fishing, so it was time to progress. Being the daughter of a frontiers woman, this would have been a rite of passage for me. So my mother took me hunting for small game with a sling shot. I knew before hand that it would be rabbits. My immediate internal reaction was visceral. I never had any qualms about anything else but this, this disturbed me but I kept my feelings to myself. I figured I would get over it once I was in the thick of it all but all my wits failed me at the moment of truth. There I was with my mother at my side, sling shot drawn, watching an unsuspecting rabbit nibbling on vegetation. I felt a mix of tenderness and disgust. The image of blood stained rabbits flashed across my mind. I turned to my mother and said “I can’t do this. Can we go fishing instead?” She quietly nodded as I handed her the sling shot. I wouldn’t become a hunter that day and I was quite relieved. My mother never showed any disappointment but from then on I stayed home or at camp whenever we needed to stock up on something more than salmon and seafood. Maybe if I had never seen Watership Down things would have went differently. Can’t say that would have been a good thing or not. What I can say is that I’m still deeply effected by that movie so I’m drawing rabbits to help me work through it. Maybe I’ll get brave and watch the movie again or read the book. Who knows, maybe I’ll come away with a more inspiring impression. 😊

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Pen and ink artist inspired by Nature, Beauty, Spirit and Song.

7 thoughts on “Childhood Things”

  1. Awwww. I love bunnies. I have wild bunnies on my land. They make me happy. I see a new little of babies out there now and oh the joy they bring to my heart. I’ve read Watership Down several times and really enjoy the book. The movie I’ve watched once almost twenty years ago. Of course, I was an adult so it wasn’t scary but I can see how a kid could be traumatized by it. Beautiful drawing, either way.

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  2. Get to like mice or something small and cute and then work your way up to baby bunnies…

    I’ve not seen the movie but have read the book. Other half gets teared-up when he thinks of Watership Down, now I know why.

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    1. I’m fine with other little cute animals, it’s just rabbits I struggle with due to the movie. Over the years we’ll sometimes spot rabbits in our backyard and I’ll just sit and watch them, so that’s been helping a bit.

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      1. There’s an animated movie called Fantasia that has horrible and frightening scenes to the music of ‘Night on a bare mountain’ (by Mussorgsky) that scared me for years. I still can’t think of the music in any other way. Maybe while you work on the rabbits, I should work on that.

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        1. I’ve never seen Fantasia. There are a lot of animated movies I probably should have seen by now but haven’t. It’s only been within the last seven years that I started watching animated movies, again. It’s actually becoming some sort of therapy for me for when I just can’t deal with all that’s going on in the world. I like stuff with lighthearted humor and happy endings. Granted there are a lot of animated movies that are too adult and sometimes rather dark in theme for my taste so I stay clear of those. I’m trying to bring myself to watch Watership Down again but for the moment I can’t. Maybe the best I can do is watch some nature videos on rabbits and do some drawings to help my mind separate the movie impression from reality. I’m so amazed at how deeply that movie effected me. Are you going to watch Fantasia again?

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          1. I’ve seen Fantasia a lot of times – despite the bad scenes in it, I love the rest of the movie (and it was restored some years back and is now on DVD, though I don’t have a copy of it.)
            My sister in law has taken to buying me animated movies after I requested (you’ll laugh) the boxed set of Madagascar! I saw one of them on the BBC’s iPlayer I think and just fell for the humour in them. I’m of an age to have seen the original Popeye and Yogi Bear TV shows, so I’ve seen a lot of animation. Curiously, animation is not my favourite medium but I can watch it quite happily if I need cheering up! 🙂 I wish I could help you with the rabbits, having got over a lot of phobias and fears, but I know that everyone has their own way of dealing with things. I hope it eases. x

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