Mother Rabbit turned back to the path in the woods where the light poured like nectar, fresh and unfinished, over the bumps and roots and rocks through petals and leaves; weaving in and out of which was the spark of orange she’d been searching for earlier. She was about to bound after it when she heard the voice of old Aunty Felicity Fox calling out from behind her,
“Oh Ruthie, Ruthie Rabbit! Do stop Ruth, these old bones don’t move nearly as fast as they once did! I’ve got such news to share, so imperative . . . ah there you are, these old eyes don’t see as well as they once did either. Now then, I’ve just come to tell you how dreadfully greedy and gluttonous your children are being! Really my dear, I thought you should know how appalling their manners are, and I know, I know how terribly busy you are so I did what anyone would do given the circumstances you know, very delicate business and hush hush and all I told little Rose to always allways let guests go first, I whispered very quietly of course and the poor dear was a bit embarrassed . . . though you know how it is with youngsters nowadays, so sensitive to the slightest of criticisms, I mean to say I was one myself you know and my but how my good mother, god rest her soul, would poke her eyes at me, why she’d even pinch me if I behaved in such ways, and I always took it with such courage she’d say, such fortitude and bravery she was so proud, though I said to myself why I would never ever do that! So true to my word I was very discreet and very quiet about it but it had to be done, after all as I always say, it takes a whole village you know, a village to raise them, these youngsters, and that’s just what we’re here for!”
Here Aunty Fox finally stopped her monologue and caught her breath, straightening the feather in the cap on her head which was slightly askew from her endeavors to reach Mother Rabbit with her kindly news, then she continued, smiling as she spoke, “I just knew you’d want to know since you were so far away and distracted here in the woods, so of course I came all the way to tell you as you really ought to know these things for reference if nothing else, it’s so important to Know . . .. And my dear, lest you should starve . . . . though plump as you are there’s no danger there . . . we’ve set you aside some morsels on a grape leaf out of the way of the children.”
Mother Rabbit stared after Aunty Felicity Fox, marveling at her efficiency and who, having borne and delivered her well-intended bit of news, was already making her way back to the festivities pleased as fruity punch. Around her she could hear the trees chuckling and then a loud “Hrrummph” as Harold Heron flapped down from above, landing on a rock beside her.
“She’s a fine piece of work old Felicity, always going about looking for something to fix even when there’s nothing broken,” he remarked, “Has such a lot to say, even in her hey day when she was a vivacious vixen she had words for any occasion and sometimes for none at all! Indeed often her words don’t match her actions, for well I remember being invited to a supper of wild parsnip and minnow soup in her cozy little barrow one evening and would you believe, for all her talk about manners, she served my soup in the shallowest little dish ever. Me with my long beak, how was I supposed to drink from such a vessel as a bowl I ask you? And the whole while she talked and talked and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise to ask for something tall to pour it in! By the time she was done she had helped herself to my soup and lectured me on wastefulness on top of it all! That was back when by beloved Maude was alive and she said to me, Harry my dear you what you need to learn is the art of interrupting . . . . Maude was skilled at the ‘art’ as she called it but it just wasn’t me. I invited Felicity to supper afterward and while I entertained the idea of offering her up a pitcher of stew to see how she’d like it, in the end I realized that wasn’t me either, so there you have it Mother Rabbit, there you have it. Here, I brought you some tidbits from the tables.”
Ruth Rabbit took the sunflower seed cake that he gave her with a grateful smile and nibbled on it.
“Are you not a fixer upper then Harold?” she asked curiously.
He regarded her from above his long beak before answering, “My dear Ruth, if ever I found myself inclined to go about ‘fixing’ anyone in all my years here on this good earth then it is the humble work in progress you see standing before you.”
For a while they stood and looked through the window at the jamboree. It was teeming with life of all kinds; an unlikely gathering of people yet there they were feasting and celebrating together, the sounds emanating from them piercing the woods every now and then in an assortment of pitches and tones lifting up the leaves and whispering winds into a harmonic cadence . . . was this the very heart and soul of diversity bearing peace, she mused bemusedly, this very conglomeration of opposing natures coexisting side by side? Granted there had been a few heated arguments, even a hot debate between the imps that had resolved itself with a bang up row and laying on of hands which the human children had joined in, diffusing the fray with aplomb though the topic at the root of it was likely to be the source of tension later she suspected. Yet they were able to all come together . . .
“Well, I’m going to find those young ones now Ruth, do me a world of good to be with them while they gambol and tussle; takes me back to when I was a mite. I’d been an only child myself, always wished for brothers and sisters to play with so Now I’m taking full advantage of all your little ones to make up for lost time, going to give them rides on my back today, take them flying . . don’t fret too much my dear, just keep that inner compass of yours tuned and more importantly, remember to use it! These gatherings of yours give this old heron’s heart much joy to look forward to Mother Rabbit, much joy ” Harold Heron announced, enfolding her in his wings for a tight embrace before flapping away in search of Baxter and Pepita.
Turning back to her path again Mother Rabbit resumed her search for the orange blaze until at last, in a bright place where tiny blue flowers made their abode amidst broad leaves, she found it soaking in the sun quietly with it’s dabbed and daubed wings open to the sky, the squiggles hidden on the underside of the wings.
It smiled at her with its miniscule eyes before taking flight, coming to land on the tip of her nose; their breath mingling until they heard music from their hearts extending from wing to wing from leaf to leaf from branch to root to shoot to raindrop and bee hive from coconut to banana to night blooming jasmine to honeysuckle to bittergourd to maple and indian pipe to amanita to hummingbird and around as sparkly gems in magpies beak, nightingales song of freedom, parrots pretty polly birdie num num refrain, seagull squawking thanks to where dolphins dove out splashing pearls into the air caught up by whale sending them fountaining high then falling around sharks and rainbow trout in crystal waters where out of nearby caves bats took up the call, in signals and tiny motions from earth to sky in stream and pinecone winding it’s way to the river before the ocean bearing fairies from a mesh in the forest seen when the door cracks open for an imperceptible moment and Mother Rabbit asked herself, “Do I dare step through and discover what’s there? Am I equipped to navigate? Will the skills and tools I need be on the path itself?”
And while she pondered the questions, the transmission called her guests who responded by joining her and that is where Whispering Wind found her along with gnomes, goblins, fairies, imps of all color, Bella Black Snake, Bernadette Bear, Tommy Turtle, even Sharla Snail who inched her way up toward the congregation ever present, bearing her home upon her back::the vestiges of a shell from prehistoric times when even that spot of earth was once submerged and the questions unwound from the spirals she carried, outward in commas marking the open wings, openings on a blaze allowing possibilities from silently upon Ruth Rabbit’s nose; Butterfly bringing the Circle to where they all shared dessert.
Sally, Suzy, Lightfingers, Stella, and Whispering Wind had enjoyed a marvelous celebration and after drinking a final cup of dandelion wine, they set off a few firecrackers then climbed up onto the back of the luminous silver mare who gently trotted with them to the portal through which they returned to their homes; just as the evening star rose, a beauty mark illuminating the sky.
“Food is communion that erases all boundaries. When we gather around tables like spokes around a wheel, we draw each other into a sacred hoop that affirms us all in our humanity and deepens our awareness of the sacred nature of every breath, every word and every gesture. A chef is a shaman, a priest and an alchemist who uses fire to transform the base elements into the Elixir of Life. Cooking and eating binds us to ourselves, to each other, and to the sacred source from which all things come.” ~~Peter Bolland