Through the Eyes of Nature

The March Hares

 

The March Hares bounded over the field.

“To me!” The Lieutenant cried. Helmets bobbled as they hopped towards the commander. Corporal Jack made it first to the spot.

“Well done Corporal. Well done,” huffed Lieutenant Monty of the Hares First Regiment. “There is a Fox yonder; our scouts have reported back,” he continued gesturing towards the guest. The dappled black and white rabbit, known to the animals as Cowbaggs sucked at his yellowing top teeth.

“‘Tis Spring and Foxes be hunting us small furries. We’d do well to be careful in these dangerous parts.”

The Hares huddled together in fright.

 


 

April blossomed and the tulips stood proud in colours of red and pink. The Fox was prowling nearby; in black bowler hat and brass monocle, his grey pinstripe suit with a hole in the back for his bushy white-tipped tail.

Lieutenant Monty whispered to the now assembled Hares; “Right men, I’m going to tell you what to do. Ahem. Corporal Jack, er- tell them what to do.”

Jack kept his toothy grin under control and said to the gathered Hares “Right lads, make for the field sharpish. We’ll be safe I reckon if we can get under the fence quick.”

 


 

“On my orders – CHARGE! For the field, I mean.”

Corporal Jack took the lead and into the field they ran. In May, Alphonse the Honest Bull grazed the grass. The Fox would never follow them in here. In the distance, Alphonse was munching when suddenly, with a loud crash he fell on his side.

“To Alphonse men, help him back to his feet” ordered Lieutenant Monty. The Hares bounced over to the Bull and with all in a line; pushed him back to his feet, their metal helmets clinking against each others.

“Most gracious of you all,” said Alphonse ingratiatingly.

 


 

The Hares First Regiment stood to attention in front of Alphonse the Bull. A low droning could be heard. Lieutenant Monty cowered underneath Alphonse. It was June and here bizzed the Bees. Buzzing and gossiping, they made their busy way over to the commotion.

“Bzzzz what happened Alphonse? Were you sleepy again?” Inquired the nearest Bee, reaching into her pink handbag for red lipstick.

“Er- Lieutenant? We’d better be on our way, that Fox won’t be far behind,” interjected Jack jovially. Monty looked out cautiously. “Alright men,” he huffed snootily. “And women,” interjected Sally. “Yes, yes, and women. Move out!”

 


 

Onward through the field they marched in orderly fashion singing:

Hares go marching let us through please we say; a Fox has made us dinner – we are to be his prey!”

The Hares neared the farm house. “Careful here lads,” said Corporal Jack, “and lady, of course,” nodding to Sally.

The fat Cat, a ginger tom sat outside lazing in the July sun. From the left near a tree hopped Brownie, the brown haired rabbit. In her wake scuttled house Mice dressed in fine clothes and carrying mouse sized bags and umbrellas.

“Follow us!” Squeaked Brownie her voice pitched high.

 


 

Brownie the rabbit, the well dressed Mice and the Hares of the Hares First Regiment sped away from the sleeping Cat. “He’s as bad as the Fox,” whispered Brownie out of the corner of her mouth.

“It’s August and almost the end of Summer.” She continued, speaking as they ran to Lieutenant Monty, the commander of the Hares. “I’ll take you to the forest, it’ll be safe there for you until you can go home again.”

“I have family there, they can help you.”

Lieutenant Monty was very grateful. “Thank you ever so much Brownie, good luck and many thanks!”


 

And so September arrived and with it came the first chill of Autumn. The Hares of the Hares First Regiment looked around the autumnal forest colours with awe, the leaves of gold and red.

“Come on,” prodded Lieutenant Monty. “Let’s find some food.”

They walked beneath the massive trees of pine and oak searching for edibles. They almost had an acorn, but a Squirrel ran over and took it in a panic before any of them could say anything.

No sooner had Monty said ‘I wonder where this rabbit is?’ than a grey rabbit called Scruffballs jumped from a bush.


 

“Arrgghh” said the combined voices of the Hares at the sight of Scruffballs, the grey rabbit of the forest. “You scared us,” squeaked Sally. Recovering his poise, Lieutenant Monty cleared his throat:

“Ahem, hello Mr Rabbit. We’re stuck here and can’t find any food.”

In a branch above an Owl hooted. “In October you have to watch for Owls aye says I,” said Scruffballs in a low voice. “Follow me Hares.” Onward they bounded through the trees to a clearing where a Squirrel smoking a small pipe was busy gathering acorns. On seeing the mob coming, it scampered quickly away.


 

Black tips of his ears tingling in the cold; Lieutenant Monty of the Hares First Regiment looked around; the Hares were alone but for a neat pile of acorns, Scruffball had left them too. They settled and sighed as they each nibbled an acorn.

“Not half bad these acorns,” said Corporal Jack happily biting into another. “Better barbecued though I’d have thought.”

It was late November time, the trees were stripped bare. A happy little red-breasted Robin wearing a burgundy bow tie was chirping in the tree above them.

“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Winter is arriving very soon. Hear Ye!”


 

And so Winter arrived at last, the freezing month of December was upon the Hares of the Hares First Regiment. The Lieutenant, his breath foggy in the early morning forest air, spoke to Corporal Jack, his trusty right hand man. “We need to move on Jack, see if we can find a way home.”

The Hares marched on through the frosty day before coming upon a Stag headbutting a tree. “Stay away tiny Hares, there’s a monster in the tree,” he bellowed.

The Hares drew back in fright, cowering together.

“I’m not a monster, I’m a rabbit!” Came the cry.


 

A snowy white rabbit called Belinda plopped out of the tree to the floor. “I’ll thank you for not referring to me as a monster,” she said huffily walking over to the Hares gathered nearby. “Ignore that ignoramus Stag, follow me Hares I shall take you to the edge of the forest to your field.”

The Hares and Belinda sang as they marched;

We’re all going home, away to home we go! We’re all going home, the place that we all know!

The January day was bright and loud, but not as loud as the Rooster that greeted the sunrise.


 

To the edge of the forest did the Hares of the Hares First Regiment march. In the escape from the Fox that fateful day, they did not expect to take almost a year to return home. The month was February and the Lambs in their soft play clothes were watched over by the Sheep dressed in simple farm attire and Wellington boots.

The Hares neared home, the Fox was nowhere in sight. “Rally to me men! And lady,” ordered Lieutenant Monty; “We are almost home!”

Nearing their houses, a gaggle of angry Hare mothers emerged shouting; “Where have you been?”

  Through the Eyes of Nature

Cover Image: Elliot Hook/The Mammal Society/Geoff Robinson Photography
© DJA 2016. All Rights Reserved.
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