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The Easter Bunny (Book Excerpt: Where the Green Grass Grows)
The bright afternoon sun streamed through the tall window and from my seat at the kitchen table I could look up at the blue sky that seemed smooth and clear like polished glass. Earlier in the afternoon I went outside to meet Dusty, but – just like the day I first flew the kite – the wind was so cold it made my eyes water. Mom reminded me that there would be a lot of warmer days in the next month, so I spent most of the afternoon inside. I helped Loretta clean upstairs. I read a book for a while. And now I was working on a Sunday school lesson. As I turned to the next page in the book, my father reached under the sink and pulled out a stack of egg cartons.
“Do you want to come with me?” he asked.
“Are you leaving right now?” I said, putting my pencil down.
I usually put off my Sunday School homework as long as I could, but since I’d rather not be riding my bike—or pony—in the cold, biting wind, now was as good a time as any to work on the lesson assigned for tomorrow.
Dad shifted the egg cartons to his other hand. “Yeah, we have to leave now if we want to get back before it’s time to feed the cows.
Every few weeks we bought eggs from a farm several miles away, although it was close enough that the family was considered one of our neighbors. The daughter of the family raised chickens. She also raised ducks, rabbits and calves. But best of all, she owned a horse, a bay gelding named Lucky, which she bought when he was six months old. She trained him herself.
I always hoped that when we went to buy eggs, I might have a chance to pet Lucky. Sure, I had my own pony, but I never wanted to miss an opportunity that had anything to do with horses.
I got up and closed my Sunday school book.
“When do you plan to finish?” my mother called from the living room.
“After dinner?” I said.
“I promise,” I said. “I just have a few questions left anyway.
I walked onto the porch, put on my denim jacket, buttoned it up, and stuffed my stocking in my pocket. If Lucky was in his pasture, I’d need that cap.
“Ready boy?” Dad asked. He opened the door and stepped out onto the porch.
“Look,” he said as we walked to the pickup truck, “the grass is starting to turn green.
Although a few patches of snow remained in the forest, the lawn and most of the fields were bare. However, I still couldn’t believe it when I went outside and saw the brownish color of the lawn and fields, rather than the bright white that had been there all winter.
After a while, we arrived at the neighbor’s house. While daughter went to the house to get our eggs, dad and I waited in the yard. The trees on the other side of the driveway blocked the cold north wind and the sun was almost warm.
I was looking out over Lucky’s pasture wondering if we could stay long enough to pet him when Dad spoke.
“Do you want a rabbit?” he asked.
I turned to him. “What?”
“Rabbit,” Dad replied. “You know, the Easter Bunny.
He pointed to a small piece of plywood with painted black letters that said, “Easter Bunnies for Sale. $1.”
I didn’t notice the sign.
“Easter Bunny? Could I?”
“I don’t see why not,” Dad replied.
Rabbit! A real, live rabbit! A couple of kids at school owned rabbits, and I thought they looked like such cute animals with their wiggly noses and long, floppy ears.
I happily contemplated the idea of my own bunny for five full seconds – until I remembered my mother.
“Dad? When we bring home the Easter Bunny, what will Mom say?”
My mother thought the dog, cats, calves and my pony were far bigger pets than any farm needed
“It’s just a little rabbit,” Dad replied. “She won’t be mad. Besides, if we tell her it’ll eat those cabbage leaves she keeps complaining about going to waste, she’ll think it’s a good idea.”
Mom liked to let anything go to waste. One of her favorite sayings was “don’t waste, don’t want”. But when Dad suggested that she could hide the cabbage leaves in the soup, she said she didn’t like cabbage in soup because it gave her heartburn.
The girl came back in a few minutes with our eggs and Dad told her I wanted the Easter Bunny. She took us to a small shed near the barn. There were dozens of rabbits inside. Some were in cages on shelves and some were in cages on the floor. There were young rabbits in one pen. They weren’t small babies, but they weren’t as big as the other rabbits. Some were deep black and some were brown and some were black and white and reminded me of Holstein cows.
And then I noticed one little white rabbit sitting in the corner all alone.
“See any you like?” Dad asked.
“The white one,” I replied, pointing.
The girl reached out and grabbed the rabbit by the scruff of the neck. “This is an albino,” she said. “That’s why her eyes are pink.”
She held out the rabbit and placed it in my waiting hands. The young rabbit sat quietly, and snuggled into the crook of my arm when I held him close. His fur was the softest I had ever touched, even softer than Dusty’s velvety nose or the fluffy fur of a kitten.
Daddy stroked the bunny’s head with two calloused fingers. “You’re a good boy aren’t you.
“Should I find a box to put him in?” asked the girl.
“Is he the one you want?” Dad asked.
“Yes dad, this is the one I want,” I said.
Dad pulled an old cracked and faded brown leather bill from his shirt pocket, opened it, flipped through the bills, picked one out and handed it to the girl. She put it in her pants pocket.
“I’ll go get the box,” she said.
While the girl went into the house, I stood with the rabbit in my arms. His eyelids drooped and then closed tightly.
“Well!” said dad. “That bunny must like you. He went to sleep.”
I looked down at the rabbit.
“How do you know that means he likes me?” I said.
“If he was scared,” Dad said, “he’d be wide awake . . .”
From the book: Where the Grass Grows Green (True Spring and Summer Stories from a Wisconsin Farm) ( ISBN-13 978-1-60145-090-6; ISBN 10 1-60145-090-7; 190 pages; $13.95)
by LeAnn R. Ralph
©2006: LeAnn R. Ralph
For more information about the book visit — http://ruralroute2.com
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