A good Kiwi yarn set near the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand.
Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tale'd
By Philippe McMurdo
"G idday Ted, anyone sittin' there?"
"Nar, all yours."
"Speight's Jack - thanks mate. How've ya been anyway?"
"Not bad, I guess. Just bin' muckin' 'round n' keepin' quiet since gettin' back. Met some interesting folk down there though I'll tell ya -"
"Ya don't say? Anyone I'd know?"
"Nar, don't think so, Sam. I don't mind tellin' ya it wasn't what I expected either."
"Yeah? Heard there's a bit of a rabbit problem down that way at the moment, di'ya see anything while you were there?"
"I s'pose I did in the end - yeah. Fill it up, Jack, I'll have another."
"Well, wad'ya see anyway?"
"Well, about a month or so ago now I guess it was, around the start of summer, I'd taken that job just inland of M?eraki as ya remember, and things had been going pretty well for us all since I got there.
"So well in fact I was lucky enough to get a day off. Figured I'd make the most of it so about an hour 'n' a half before sunrise I drove into town. Pulled in alongside the tavern, and thought a bit of a walk 'round the area might be in order before going in for a late breakfast and a beer when it opened around 11.
"Ya know round that part of the country there isn't too much goin' on there as far as the town goes, and there aren't too many people that take up residence either. So, ya won't be surprised to hear that while I was walking down the main street - Haven Street it is - in those wee hours, I was a bit startled to pick up on a lot of chatter, and some high-pitched chortling coming from the Centenary Park.
"I moved a bit closer and became pretty confident that what I was hearin' didn't sound like adults or even teenagers. Was more like wee kids who'd somehow gotta hold of a good supply of helium. I's pretty curious by this time, n' wanted to know what the devil was goin' on.
"Well, you'd never believe what I saw when I finally came within eye-shot of the place - about one-hundred-fifty rabbits all cavorting on the playground and having themselves a merry old time on the slide, and seesaw. All chatting away and laughing as they pleased.
"At first, I di'n't believe my eyes and put it down to the sea mist that was hanging about the place, and the dim glow of the street lights. In fact, I gave my eyes I good rubbing at that point. But as I got closer, it was all confirmed to me as one a' them, a medium-sized, light-brown one, suddenly stopped and stood there staring at me through the haze. Another followed suit, then another until all o' the rabbits in the place had stopped and were trying to figure out what to make a' me.
"Well I've never been one to be rude or offhanded t'wards a stranger, so I stood right where I was, tipped my hat to 'em all and said to 'em, 'Gidday, nice morning for it.'
"I wasn't too sure if I done the right thing or not, because they all stayed standin' there for about a minute or so before one of 'em hopped forward slightly and spoke clear as day saying, 'Sure is, mate. Care to join us?'
"I was a bit taken aback I don't min' tellin' ya, but I seldom say no to meeting new people. In fact, I was in the mood for a bit of company at that point. And so, I joined my furry new companions for a little bit of a muck-about on the playground.
"Down the slide we all went time and time again, and each time we went down another wee critter came, and joined us. At one point there was about twenty-five of us all going down at once and landing in a great, big fuzzy pile at the bottom. I had them under my legs, in my shirt, on my head, and just about anywhere else they could cram in. The dogs were going to go crazy when I got home - smelling like I'd bathed in rabbit.
"There were small fluffles I could hear all conversin' away about this and that spread out over the grounds, and a number of them played on the seesaw - about five at-a-time I s'pose, all squashed together on each end and kickin' down with all the welly they had, trying to make the other side's lot fall off. They taught me how'da kick too,and I tell ya now, I've been able to run faster and jump higher than I ever could as a kid.
"After a while of hangin' about with the bunch on the slide, I moved over to a small group all clearly engaged over some hot topic or another. To tell the truth, I've never really been around too many rabbits before in a social-type setting - ya know - other than the ones we stalk when trying to clear a patch. I'll admit I was a bit curious to see what all the talk was all about.
"They were friendly enough though, and a large dusty rabbit by the name of Dag invited me right in askin' me for the human perspective on the housing market seeing as 'times were getting' tough for them'. There was too much competition for territory, and too much other live-stock to contend with to make a good go of a space a few of them reckoned, and summa the others hummed away in agreement, all nodding their wee heads.
"A couple were in a difference of opinion over whether or not you should be able to just move onto a bit of land anyway, and set-up shop as it were without so much as introducin' yourself. 'That's a rabbit's God-given way' they said. I told them it was a little tighter than that with people, not to mention we tended to like our space a bit. Most of them seemed to think that was fair enough, but a small feller got pretty up-tight about the whole thing and hopped off.
"We spent the rest of the time talkin' about the finer points of life, why it is that we tend to cook our carrots, and what it was I did for a crust. I'll admit I stretched that last one a bit. You'll know as well as I do, even dabbling farmers like me tend to not see eye-to-eye with most Leporidae. In fact, I reckon most of us prefer 'em cooked, or just plain shot, eh? I said I was just on a working holiday in the end - doing bits 'n' bobs.
"After an hour or so had passed, I wondered how it was that nobody had come by and discovered our little wingding, but I never saw it in the paper or anything. They never let on if anyone was approaching either, so I figure no one was any the wiser about it all.
"Well, a bit later still, the sun started comin' up which did mean a fewa' the townsfolk would soon be takin' to the streets walkin' dogs and such. I also started feelin' just a bit concerned too with what people might think to see a respectable farm-hand larkin' about with these rabbits, so I started makin' noises about moving on. To my amazment, they all agreed sayin' they had business to attend to anyway but we should get together another time if I were free. I said I didn't live around here, but I'd do my best and wished them all well with whatever it was they had to do.
"By the time I'd waved goodbye to the last of the rabbits and even shaken hands or paws with a couple of them, I could smell food and coffee startin' to come across a bit of an ocean breeze. It was a nice mornin' the sun rose on that day and I walked around for a while perusing all the local establishments before I ended up at Fleurs once it'd opened. I had a good feed of fish n' chips and a coffee to wash it all down.
"Some highlights of the mornin' news were playin' on the television - somethin' about a rabbit infestation in the South Island but I wasn't listenin' too much. Probably an exaggeration I thought at the time - you know how those news reporters can be. But, now that I think of it, I reckon that lady mighta bin' onto something there."