Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Velveteen Bunnies

Acrylic on 8x10 canvas panel
Available through DPW auction/gallery 

As a young child growing up, I remember that we always had bunnies in the yard. I lived in a 2-family house that we rented the first floor of, and every day in the summer I would walk into the backyard to find the bunnies. Our backyard was full of a mixture of grass, weeds, flowers & fruit trees - what I always called my "garden of Eden." The bunnies seemed to love the yard also as they could be found there pretty much every day.

I had a very personal attachment to them ever since my mother had read me the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. If you are not familiar with it, it's a wonderful story about a stuffed velveteen rabbit that a young boy had while he was sick - and how it one day "left" only to become a real bunny! I had a stuffed rabbit that had recently "disappeared" after I got over one of my childhood diseases, and I firmly believed it had become real and was one of the bunnies in the yard. In fact, I thought all the bunnies in my yard (and there were quite a few) were all once stuffed bunnies that had left & became real - and that everyone in my neighborhood had heard the Velveteen Rabbit story! 

I remember when I was about 5 years old,  my friend Joey Riggi and I were determined to catch one of these bunnies. We set-up a box with a string & stick -- and a wonderful carrot we "borrowed" from old Uncle Mike's garden (Shhhh, don't tell him!). But the bunnies were too smart - they didn't fall for those traps. So then Joey & I decided to dig holes in the yard, then cover them with twigs, leaves & grass clumps. We laid the carrot pieces on top of the camouflaged holes & waited. But all we caught was my poor mother as she walked out into the yard to hang the just washed laundry. (Joey & I had to fill in all the holes in the yard and I had to help with re-washing the sheets!)

As I grew up I saw less & less bunnies in town, until they were gone entirely. Some people thought it was great that they were gone, since bunnies do have a tendency to eat flowers & vegetables - and people were upset about losing their gardens. But I always thought it was sad that they were gone. 

Last year in my yard I saw my first rabbit in over 15 years! A wonderful brown bunny that would hop away quickly if I came near. This year we have multiple bunnies! Many of them small, tiny versions of their parents. Every morning I leave to go to work & I see them in my yard. Some people are unhappy to see them, I'm sure - but I'm glad. I won't be setting any traps these days (I wonder if Joey Riggi, wherever he is now, remembers those rabbit traps!). I'm quite happy to see the bunnies & they always have a safe haven in my yard.

And by the looks of how many bunnies we have, there must be a lot of people in my neighborhood that are reading The Velveteen Rabbit


Sea Dean said...

What a lovely story Nan. You are so talented.

CrimsonLeaves said...

Oh Nancy, I think enjoyed your post even more than that adorable painting! I so love hearing stories like this. Do you know, I don't recall ever reading the Velveteen Rabbit? Is that Beatrix Potter?

Nan Johnson said...

Thanks Sea & Sherry.
@Sherry - there is a link at the end of my story that will take you to a free online version of the story. The author is Margery Williams. Beatrix Potter wrote Peter Rabbit (which was another one of my favorites as a child!)

Angela Sullivan said...

Cute Bunnies


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