We have a rabbit in our household. I don’t mean a genuine fluffy bunny but someone born in the last year of the rabbit. I anticipate that he’ll make giant leaps forward this year.
Mention rabbits and I always think of the lovely 1922 book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. We have a beautiful 2005 hardback edition by Egmont which includes William Nicholson‘s original artwork.
I love the way the rabbit’s feet are set over to one side in that picture, the result of innumerable huggings and sleepings-on by his owner. Such beautiful observation to accompany a very tender story. I have to admit that I can seldom read the scene between the Rabbit and the Skin Horse [Margery Williams' capitals] without shedding a tear. For me, it really nails the fundamentally transformative qualities of love and motherhood, with the inevitability of aging thrown in for good measure:
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.”Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.”You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people 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 been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your 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.”
Despite feeling as if most of my hair has been loved off, especially in recent weeks, my mood is surprisingly perky and optimistic today. I have a decided spring in my stride and am really looking forward to what the Year of the Rabbit has to show for itself – if only my eyes will stay secured long enough for me to see properly.
I’ve been wanting to make a traditional soft toy bunny – in velveteen, velvet or even corduroy – for ages. I’ve found some rabbity inspiration here in this curiously aged and lugubrious bunny by Northfield Primitives (Oh, scoop him up and love him someone, please!) and by Betz White‘s gorgeous cashmere bunnies: who would not want to love those button-eyes off? Now, they don’t look hard to make. And with Easter late this year, time is definitely on our side.