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. 😊