Thursday, 26 September 2013

Loving Adams' Watership Down

I hadn’t read Watership Down since the 1980s—and it is just as good as I remembered. Only this time, I have rabbit experience, having lived with two house rabbits for over a decade. This book made me nostalgic for my years with Mr. Doofy and Miss Blackberry, my two bunnies who hated each other’s guts, but loved me. I frequently recommend this book (as well as several ‘how-to-take-care-of-bunnies’ books) to anyone contemplating adopting a rabbit. It continually surprises me how little most people seem to know about rabbits—in fact, it was difficult to find someone to take care of my little charges when I went travelling. The pet-sitting companies declared that rabbits to be ‘exotic animals’ and refused to have anything to do with them. I, as a result, ended up bribing and threatening friends and family to take care of Mr. D and Miss B whenever I bought a plane ticket.

This book captures very well the strong personalities of rabbits. They do have a prominent streak of mischief, just as Adams portrays them. And I swear that mine did have ESP as well—whenever I thought that it was time to put them to bed, they would go on high alert, even before I looked at them! Miss Blackberry, in later years, seemed to be able to dematerialize at will. I would look everywhere for her—not many places in a 2 bedroom apartment—and she would be gone. I would think about something else for a while, and she would rematerialize in one of her usual spots. Perhaps I should have named her Fiver. And I concur with Adams that rabbits are very project-oriented—furniture in my home was frequently arranged more to cover bits of carpet that they decided must be destroyed, rather than for human use or comfort.

I have great sympathy for does (female rabbits)—Mr. Doofy considered me his mate, resulting in plenty of awkward situations. (You haven’t lived until a buck rabbit has run figure eights around your ankles, spraying you with urine. Repeatedly). If I crouched down anywhere in his vicinity, he was soon nipping my rear end and he was forever attempting to chase off any suitors who dared come to the house. Unfortunately for him, rabbit aggression looks pretty cute to human males.

Watership Down gives us greater empathy for the other species that we share this world with. We have to acknowledge that they have their own concerns and dramas, separate from humans. I had completely forgotten the ending, but it is perfect.

Read April 26-27, 2013.

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