I remember now why the first month of the year is called January, after Janus, the two-faced god who could look both forward and backward.
Here it is the third week of January, and I am looking forward to what I want to do this year, and back at what I accomplished last year. Umm, last year? I got through 2012 without doing much of anything at all, at least in a creative sense.
However, in examining some of the photos I took, I discovered some that I had forgotten about, and was reminded that I did get out of the house a few times.
I was in such a funk throughout 2012's long hot summer that I hardly did anything beyond reading and watching NetFlix and Turner Classic Movies. It was late fall before I finally got to pay Mother Goose a visit, my first in over a year.
As usual, life had been as hectic for her as mine had been dull. "Wanna, I would trade with you in a heartbeat; I love the idea of lying on a sofa eating bonbons and watching old movies."
"Don't tell me," I said. "One of your Grandmothers is acting up again?" (For those of you who don't know, it is mostly Grandmothers in FairyLand who keep things going.)
"Oh, not this time. It's actually not a real problem; well, any more, anyway. You may recall meeting Leger Demain, the Magician?"
"Oh, yes, he's the fellow who has the giant rat for a pet ..."
"Yes, and if you recall, Spurt became an irresistible attraction for all the rabbits."
How could I forget THAT, I thought, as I recalled the spectacle of the magician's giant rat playing hide-and-seek with all those rabbits!
"Well," she continued,"Unfortunately, Leger has been even more erratic and forgetful, and I can't tell you how unnverving it is to have a powerful magician who can't remember diddly. Plus, that rat just keeps growing taller, and I've been afraid of what might happen with all those rabbits playing under its big feet, and nobody could get them to come home for supper, either. I was trying to figure out what to do about him and his problems, so I called a meeting of all the grandmothers, who have set up a special committee. None of them was available to take on a new responsibility with the rabbits, but they suggested I hire a certain elf, a sweet little thing who had gained a bit of experience working in the Fairy Baby nursery."
Mother Goose clapped her hands and her eyes sparkled, "And, Wanna, you will never guess the coincidence - her name is Lapina!"
Hmm; I thought; Lapina, Lapina ... ah, lapin - rabbit in Latin! Now that IS a coincidence!
We found her, right at the edge of the FairyLand gardens. She had a few companions, too, I noticed.
"Hello, my dear Lapina," Mother Goose said. "I would like you to meet a friend of mine, Wanna, who comes in from El Paso TX to visit occasionally."
"It is my pleasure to meet you, Wanna, and so nice of you to bring her by, Mother Goose! See? I've only been on the job a short time and I'm already having good results."
At this point, one rabbit looked as if it were about ready to give her a kiss!
He hopped further up her lap, as a second rabbit nestled close by, happy to be patted.
And a third one hopped up near her shoulder, with a full head of cabbage between its paws to munch on.
"Have they been to Arda's gardens?" I asked.
"Oh, they have a wee garden all their own now," Lapina said. "Arda was very good about setting aside another plot just for them. I've been training them to harvest there, and not to venture out into the main gardens. I'm also trying to get them to remember to come home when I call them."
Mother Goose nodded. "Lapina has had to have a few talks with Leger Demain. He is such a draw for the rabbits; every time we turn around, they have run off to play hide and seek, which is fine, up to a point. But fortunately Lapina and Leger have worked out a plan together."
"Well, magicians have their tricks, but I have one of my own," Lapina said, smiling sweetly. "I have magic hands."
Mother Goose nodded. "When she was substituting in the Fairy Nursery, the older elves noticed the impact of those hands, and when one of the fairy babies was too fussy, they just called her to pat its little back and stroke its little wings. Settled it down right away."
Lapina smiled. "Same thing happens when my rabbits get too overwrought; I just start patting and stroking them and they practically melt. " And she smiled even more broadly. "I offer them a choice," and she held out one hand in a fist, the other open. Mother Goose gasped, and Lapina said, "Just kidding, just kidding!"
"Oh, my goodness, Lapina!" Mother Goose turned to me. "I didn't realize elves could be so, so ... unsettling?"
One rabbit snuffled happily, "Yip, yip, yip," as if in agreement.
"What a wonderful attribute," I said. "Those hands, I mean. It's hard to imagine almost any kind of animal, not only the furry ones but the human ones, who doesn't like to be petted and have our backs scratched. But I am curious - what was the agreement you made with the magician?" I asked.
"Well, he was ready to do SOMETHING, because despite his good nature, he has his hands full trying to control Spurt. And to have most of FairyLand's rabbits following them everywhere had begun to fray his nerves."
At this point Mother Goose rolled her eyes. "And could there be a worse situation than an already erratic magician like Leger Demain with frayed nerves?" She turned to Lapina, "Tell Wanna how you DID get his cooperation, my dear."
"I just asked him if he could use a magic spell to give me a unique whistle that carries throughout FairyLand, and that only the rabbits can hear, and he did it."
Mother Goose nodded, "So then if they don't come when you whistle, what happens?"
"The sound gets more intense, and if they wait too much longer, they cannot get in the gardens - either the main gardens OR their Rabbit Plot. And they do love their suppers!"
Lapina smiled. "They didn't believe me at first, but after going to bed hungry and with sore ears for a few nights, they showed a remarkable improvement in following my rules."
Another rabbit hopped closer, snuffling "Yip, yip, yip," and nodding in agreement.
"Aren't you my sweet boys and girls?" Lapina asked, smiling benignly at her little charges as they ate their cabbages and Romaine lettuces.
"I hesitate to ask," I said, "but I have heard some people say that cabbage and lettuce are not good for rabbits?"
She smiled, "Well, perhaps for rabbits that are household pets or that live in a cage. If my rabbits get bloated, I haven't noticed, and they all seem pretty happy. I do prefer Romaine rather than iceberg lettuce myself, so that's what they get, as well; not as their sole diet, of course. Arda tells me they can eat practically all cruciferous vegetables, and they do love alfalfa hay. Some even like peanuts."
Wow! I thought. Who would've guessed there were peanuts in FairyLand?
Mother Goose nodded, "I trust Arda's judgment as to what is safe for them to eat. FairyLand's rabbits have been happily plundering our vegetable gardens from time immemorial, and I haven't noticed a dent in their populations."
I heard this one say "Yip, yip!" in a tiny little rabbity lisp.
And "Yes'm, yes'm," from this one.
And this one nodded again, too. "Yip, yip,yip!"
"Yes, they love to harvest," Lapina mused. "And the good thing about it is that after we gather their cabbages and alfalfa hay and carrots and other goodies, we go over to Arda's main garden and harvest the fresh vegetables that I need for my supper. And, of course, as a reward for their good behavior they still get to play with Spurt occasionally, but under supervision, of course."
A mutually beneficial arrangement, I agreed.
And in her basket of veggies I spotted mushrooms, artichokes, lettuce, cucumbers, garlic, cauliflower, leeks, a beet, a carrot... My mouth watered.
At this point, Mother Goose reminded me that she had some tarts for me, so that helped my rumbling stomach.
And when we left Lapina, she was giving the rabbits their carrots. "One for you, and one for you, and one for you .... and now you can go play for a while before bedtime.... NEXT GROUP! "
You can read about how I created Lapina in the Doll pages here.
Not long after I put this story on the website, I had a letter from Joanne Bailey in Canada, who wrote,
"I just read Lapina the Rabbit Tender and wanted to say how much I liked her story and loved to see how you made her. I must say though that my first thought about Tender led me on a different path as I thought about chicken tenders (that's what we call those little filet bits of the chicken breast)..."
I wrote Joanne: "Well, I debated about using the name Tender, since my sweet husband was also joking about whether she would serve them with hot mustard or barbecue sauce! lol
I thought about The Rabbit Minder, The Rabbit Herder, The Rabbit Keeper, The Rabbit Shepherd, The Rabbit Wrangler ... but all of them had connotations that weren't quite what I wanted. And, me being me, I kind've liked the play on words anyway, so I left it."