Picture Book Tuesday: Home for a Bunny
"'Spring, Spring, Spring!' sang the frog.
"'Spring!' said the groundhog."
Thus begins Margaret Wise Brown's age-old "Home for a Bunny." But the book only concerns the frog and the groundhog insofar as they are kind enough to offer this precious brown-and-white bunny a home - a home that she has to reject and reject because, of course, she can't swim, she can't live underground, and she certainly can't live in a tree, although the robin sweetly offers.
This book is short, it is wistful, it is about a brown-and-white bunny with pink undersides to her velvety ears and soft paws that she rests on her cheeks and a gentle hoppety-hop that takes her down the lane while she searches for her bunny future. The good news, the happy ending, is that she finds one; she meets - three guesses! - a bunny.
A soft white bunny with pink eyes who offers up her home, "under this rock, under this stone, down under the ground, this is my home."
In goes the soft white bunny. In goes the timid brown-and-white bunny. And they curl up together in the dry cool dust and fall asleep.
These are the days that we are no longer in quarantine but COVID-19 is running rampant still. These are the days that I anxiously send my son into daycare so that I can work full-time from home (play catch-up, really, after 5 months of only-sort-of-working-while-actually-walking-to-the-creek-and-microwaving-chicken-nuggets-and-painting-with-glitter-on-the-back-porch). These are the days that I receive email updates daily about the status of my job - a one-year lectureship at a local university - updates which are constantly fluctuating based on who has managed to pay their tuition, who has withdrawn, and how many COVID clusters have surfaced at any given time in the campus dorms. These are the days that my sort-of-partner (my son's father, who moved in to be close to us through the pandemic) goes to work remodeling homes and arrives sweaty and exhausted and wishing there was food on the stove. I, too, wish there was food on the stove. I, too, wish I were the Superwoman he believes me to be.
I knew another bunny once. He invited me in, and together we made a home. We made a lovely, snug, eight-year home but one spring I woke up and wanted something different, something new. I thought, You can't stay with one bunny out of fear there are no other bunnies. You're a young bunny still. Go out and see the world.
And so I did. I found wonderfully inviting groundhogs and frogs. I found a robin - my sort-of-partner, I think, is a robin - and we raised our home on stilts to allow him shallow flight; we eat a healthy mix of grass and worms; we care together for a son.
But some days I wish I were the brown-and-white bunny. I wish I might hop idly down the road to see what I find. I read articles about the people riding out COVID alone, how isolating it is, how lonely. I can imagine that pain. And so it is with guilt, too, that I wish that I had a bit less of a home.
Last night, after bath, I read the book to my son, and we sat smiling at the last page. The two bunnies, their rumps together, their dear precious paws together, their eyes slit contentedly shut.
I said, before I could stop myself, "I am the bunny." A wide sadness welling up.
My son looked at me. He looked at the page. He said, "Which bunny?"
I smoothed my son's brown curls. I pressed my cheek against his soft damp head and thought wonderingly, gratefully, He doesn't know which bunny I am.
Then I thought: I don't know which bunny I am.
Then I thought: I am both bunnies.
I kissed my son. "I'm the bunny that loves you," I told him, and I tucked him in bed and eased the door shut. In the dark, he was half-mumbling, half-asleep: "I love you, too."