The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
April 16, 2022
A pooka (or puca) is a shape changer from Celtic folklore. In the form of animals, from horses, goats, cats and dogs, to hares and even human form with animal features, they are considered for the most part benevolent pranksters. My favorite pooka is found in the movie “Harvey” with Jimmy Stewart playing the eccentric Elwood P. Dowd and Harvey is played by an invisible 6-foot, 8-inch white rabbit. The movie is a lot of fun. And as the doctor and Elwood’s sister actually start to believe they can see Harvey, we the viewers also start believing, too.
At this time of year, with Easter and spring, rabbits do come to mind often. At the outskirts of town and beyond, Tehachapi has an abundance of rabbits. Once I had a rabbit from my yard ride under my car into town and jump out in the KMart parking lot. My goodness, he had an adventure that day. I was never sure if he caught a ride home or decided to stay and enjoy the city lights and sights.
In “The Tales of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter, Peter and his friends are very content to explore Mr. McGregor’s garden through many adventures. But in the book “Further Adventures of Peter Rabbit” written and recorded by actress Emma Thompson, Peter also ventures away from home, ending up in Scotland! Rabbits do seem to like to investigate new places. In a third book by Thompson titled, “The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit,” Peter finds himself at a fair where he is mistaken for a stuffed animal and put into a little girl’s bag. Then taken for a ride on a roller coaster! Adventures, indeed!
On a more serious note, rabbits flee the intrusion of man and the Hrududu (cars) in the timeless classic “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. Traveling to a promised land over rough unfamiliar terrain and down rushing rivers, the group of lapines face many perilous dangers. The main character Fiver deals with both real and visionary frights, as he “sees” catastrophe in a field of blood and fears for himself and his fellow travelers in his dreams and waking visions. What is most delightful yet sometimes troubling in this story is the approach of the author to keep the rabbits as animal as possible without giving them human traits. It is like walking in their footsteps, or should I say rabbit’s feet? Their battles are vicious and some of their rules archaic. A sobering view of survival of the fittest.
One of the most touching rabbit stories of all is still found in “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams. As a gift tucked into a Christmas stocking, the Velveteen Rabbit becomes the beloved companion to a young boy. Playing together within the house and nursery, to the outside yards and gardens, they became inseparable. Sadly, the rabbit was not accepted by the other toys in the nursery, perhaps from jealousy at being a favorite. They mocked and teased him for being so plain and not fancy or mechanical. Just a floppy soft brown mass that didn’t even look like a real rabbit. The rabbit asks the skin horse, “What is real?” The wise old horse replies, “When a child loves you, for a long long time, then you become real.”
The boy is sickened with scarlet fever and that changes the rabbit’s life forever. Because as the child recovers, the Velveteen Rabbit is sent to the trash bin to be burned. Barely saved but forgotten, outside and alone, the rabbit remembers more words of the skin horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to those who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has rubbed off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real, you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.”
I think a lot about becoming real these days. Some call it growth or wisdom, or acceptance of who we are and being happy and content with self. We are actually with ourselves longer and in more hours and days and months and years than we are with anyone else in the whole world. I imagine being happy with self then should be the biggest goal in life. Because it is then that we become real.
Good books. Good reading.
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.