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.

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