Of Windblown Petals and New Discoveries—How a Were-Rabbit Got His Name
Archie and Olivia lived at Lavender Farm with their father Mr Meurs.
They loved living in the countryside. Mr Meurs cared for all the fruit-trees in his orchards as well as helping on the neighbouring farms when he was needed. In his spare time, Mr Meurs grew vegetables in his garden.
There was always lots to do on the farm and when they weren’t going to school they helped with the house chores and the garden and the animals. Lavender Farm had lots of animals. There were the chickens and ducks who supplied the family with eggs, a very noisy family of pigs, a goat, and Bob and Chloe the farm dogs who helped Mr Meurs each day with his work and who slept on the rug at his feet every evening after tea.
When Archie and Olivia brought Agatha her breakfast later that morning they were delighted to find the little baby bunny. Olivia closed the hutch door carefully while Archie ran up to the farmhouse.
“Dad, come and see. Agatha has a baby bunny.”
Mr Meurs was pulling on his boots when Archie appeared at the back door.
“What was that?”
“Agatha has a new baby. We saw him. Come and see, Dad.”
Mr Meurs straightened and pulled a battered and stained hat off a coat peg. “How strange,” he said, putting his hat on and pulling the wide brim a little till he was satisfied with the fit.
When he peeked in to Agatha’s room and saw the tiny rabbit he pushed his hat back and scratched his head.
“Well,” he said, “this is a turn-up.”
“Isn’t it cute?” asked Olivia.
“How can it be cute; it’s got no fur!” said Archie.
“We’ll call it Blossom,” said Olivia, ignoring Archie’s remark.
“What sort of name is that for a rabbit?” asked Archie.
Olivia rolled her eyes and pointed to the white petals covering the roof of the hutch and the grass below. “See how the plum flowers have fallen like a carpet. It’s a sign; as if the wind was giving us a clue what the name should be.”
“No it isn’t,” she countered. “Dad always says nature knows best.”
Mr Meurs laughed. “Well, there’s no denying that.”
It’s the perfect name,” she said.
And so the tiny rabbit became Blossom, and somehow the name stuck even after Olivia and Archie discovered he was a boy rabbit. By then, Blossom was a few weeks old and had opened his eyes; they were dark and large and he had the softest black fur, with a little white patch on one front paw, one on his back leg and a white streak on his little chest.
Olivia and Archie visited the hutch each morning and afternoon to bring clean straw as well as food and water for Agatha.
One Saturday afternoon, a few weeks later Mr Meurs had finally finished the long and tiring task of pruning the trees in his orchard. It was very early spring and the days were short with the cold setting in quickly as the sun dipped towards the west. Mr Meurs was thinking of his nice warm kitchen and an even warmer drink when he walked from the yard into the garden just as Archie and Olivia were changing Agatha’s straw bedding.
“Goodness,” he said, stopping and bending down to peer into the hutch. “Look how much Blossom has grown. He’ll soon be too big for Agatha’s little house. I’ll have to build a pen for him to play in during the day.”
“Oh, yes Dad! Please do it today,” pleaded Olivia.
“Yes, please Dad,” added Archie, “we’ll help you, won’t we, ‘Livia?”
Olivia nodded enthusiastically. “Of course we’ll help you, Dad.”
Mr Meurs laughed. “Well, I guess there’s no point putting it off then,” he said. “Now, we will need some timber and wire netting, a saw, a hammer and nails.”
“I’ll search the shed,” said Archie.
“Ah, now hang on! We can’t do it all today,” said Mr Meurs. “We’ll have to make a plan first so we can work out just what we’ll need.” He thought for a moment.
“Hmm, yes! That’s the best way to start.” He pulled out a notebook and small pencil from his shirt pocket and began to sketch out a rough plan. Then he showed it to Olivia and Archie.
“Now we have enough time before the afternoon chores to peg the run out ready for tomorrow.”
Archie and Olivia ran to one of the sheds to fetch a mallet or large hammer and some short timber stakes. Mr Meurs stepped out the measurements he’d drawn up and directed the children to hammer the markers into the grass. After finishing this they all stood back to admire their work.
“It’s going to look fantastic, Dad,” said Archie.
“Do you like your new yard, Agatha?” asked Olivia.
Agatha liked it the look of it very much. She enjoyed using her small pen beneath the hutch which was surrounded by pots of fragrant herbs and bright coloured flowers. Inside her hutch she had two rooms, the smaller she used as her bedroom and the larger room she used as a living area. Until now Blossom had been too small to be outside but now he was quickly growing into a very bouncy little rabbit with nothing to do but annoy his mother which made Agatha pull her ears in frustration.
She also feared the nightly predators that prowled through the garden and the orchard and the paddocks beyond. Hidden away in their little rooms inside the hutch they were safe, but Agatha knew of several curious and adventurous little rabbits amongst her relatives the wild rabbits, who had disappeared or met with a bad end. The wild rabbits lived in the burrows overlooking the river flats. There were many dangers for unwary rabbits, hunters with guns and bright lights, foxes, and roaming cats and dogs, and finally Malevant the tiresome cat, who loved nothing better than to tease and torment her.
After Mr Meurs and the children had gone up to the farmhouse, she let Blossom hop out of their little house and peer through the wire. “You are a very lucky little rabbit, Blossom,” said Agatha. “Just look at the pen Mr Meurs is making for us. You will have lots of room to hop about in.”
Blossom was very excited. He had not been allowed out of their little house before and he was beginning to find it dull and boring. All the sounds and smells coming into their house on the breeze seemed very exciting and he longed to explore the world beyond their hutch. He twitched his little black ears and nose as he looked around. He wasn’t quite sure what all the pegs and string were for but everything was new and exciting so it didn’t matter. His first look at the garden held enough interest for him.
Malevant, the cat who lived in the back hayshed of the neighbouring farm kept hearing about Blossom from the other animals but on his visits to Agatha’s hutch he still hadn’t been able to catch any sight of the little bunny. He was sitting on top of a straw bale basking in the late sunshine and cleaning his paws when he overheard some sparrows twittering excitedly the news that Mr Meurs was enlarging Agatha Bunny’s pen. He pricked his ears and smiled to himself—a very nasty smile.