No soup for you! It’s rabbit
Do you suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of calmness coming over you? If you do, then perhaps it’s because 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. The fourth in the cycle of the Chinese New Year, it occurs every 12 years. It begins on Feb. 3, 2011 and ends on Jan. 22, 2012.
The Year of the Rabbit is always a peaceful year. Thankfully, it will be much more tranquil than 2010, the Year of the Tiger. The year 2011 will bring with it a degree of personal rest, to enable us to extricate ourselves from any stress and uncertainty we may be experiencing.
Furthermore, a person born in the Year of the Rabbit will have exceptional taste, accompanied by giftedness, expressiveness and a sense of honour. She will be a survivor, who can deal with whatever she encounters, provided she’s at peace with herself.
All this thinking about the Year of the Rabbit brought to mind my own experience with rabbits.
I recently read The Ocean at My Door by Ron Pollett (1900-55). During his lifetime, he was voted by the readers of the now-defunct Atlantic Guardian as “Newfoundland’s favourite storyteller.” And with good reason.
I laughed aloud as I read his story, “ The Tongue That Never Told a Lie.” It’s about a classic rabbit incident from his childhood. A portion of it bears repeating here.
“I had the head, my favourite part,” he recalls, “on the plate in front of me. I probed for tid-bits, then cracked open the crown, leaving the tongue till the very last. Finally I hooked it out and held it up on the fork.
“‘Some tongue, hey, Uncle Bill?’ I said. ‘Some tongue. Almost half the size of a caplin!’”
In a former life, when I pastored in rural Newfoundland, parishioners frequently invited us out for meals.
One day, my wife received a phone call. “Does Pastor Janes like rabbit soup?” a senior lady asked.
“He loves it,” Sherry answered. But she didn’t add that she disliked rabbit greatly. In fact, she didn’t even like the thought of it. I often asked her why. “Because rabbits remind me of cats.” I restrained from asking her, “And when did you last eat a cat?”
The night of our rabbit soup supper finally arrived. I was looking forward to it, remembering fondly eating rabbit as a boy.
At the house, the couple and their young granddaughter sat at the table. Sherry and I were there with our two-year-old daughter, Krista. After grace was said, I dug into the bowl the lady had set before me. The rabbit portions were large and scattered generously through the mixture. I was more than ready to enjoy my ambrosial delight.
Sherry, on the other hand, picked up a spoon and absently stirred her soup. I knew she was battling the thought of cat parts swirling around in her bowl. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her sip the occasional spoonful of broth. She fed her soup to Krista. Then, when Sherry thought nobody was watching, she hoisted a lump of rabbit from her bowl and plopped it into mine.
By now, my first bowl of soup was only a memory.
Our hostess asked, “Pastor Janes, would you like another bowl? There’s lots left.”
“ Yes, I sure would. Thanks.” Within moments, a second bowl of steaming pottage had been set before me.
Suddenly, the granddaughter spoke up. “Look, Nan,” she exclaimed. “I got d’head.”
“Oh, no,” I thought. “This is going to be tough on Sherry.” Nan said, “ That’s nice, dear.” The girl began playing with the rabbit crown staring up from her bowl.
“Look, Nan,” she continued excitedly, lifting an object for all to see. “D’tongue.” She popped it in her mouth.
I turned and looked at Sherry; her face had blanched.
The girl dug deeper. “Look, Pop, d’brain,” she said, as she crushed the object between her fingers.
Sherry kept her eyes averted, for she knew what the girl was about to do. In a flash, the savory morsel disappeared into her mouth. Sherry was aghast.
The hostess, noticing that Sherry wasn’t eating, asked, “Mrs. Janes, more soup?” “No, thanks,” Sherry said. “I’m full.” Truer words had never been spoken.
Sherry still gags when she looks at a mere spoonful of rabbit stew, not to mention an entire bowl.