It is over fifteen years since I saw my first hare. I suppose I must have glimpsed one before that, but it was a backward glance over a fallow field one late June afternoon in 2001 that allowed me to lock eyes with one. Fierce, he was. I remember him intensely; his curved, honey-hued back nonchalantly slouched against a tractor rut as the hazy sun backlit his black-tipped ears. I say locked eyes, but it was one amber sphere that took me in that day. The other was concealed by a long, spoon-shaped ear that snapped upright when I literally stopped in my tracks to greet him. All he granted me was a swift half-smile, then he cannonned off in to the distance, kicking up summer dust with unnaturally large, pneumatic back legs.
Needless to say, I was hooked. I knew that I had become a devotee. Even after that briefest of introductions I felt bereft by a terrible loss, and yearned to see hares again. Alas, they are elusive by nature. I pine daily. Although I can count on the fingers of one hand the genuine, intoxicating encounters that I have had with hares since that moment, each one has been memorable. They are all etched in to my memory, as are the four Lagomorphs that are etched in to my skin. Yes, four hares adorn my body in tattoo form, and I hope to aquaint them with more over time.
My two remaining inkings both relate to time, and are in word and meaning both patient and calm, as if marking the days until ushering in new four-legged neighbours. As I look at my blue-hued hare tattoes now, they are all in motion. Leaping away with four legs airborne, as all respectable hares should be. It seems unnatural to imagine them in any other fashion. Perhaps that is why they are all on my shoulders, because they piston forwards whenever I run. They live in my peripheral vision, as their real brethren always do. My ink-hares and I have run many miles together, and I am grateful for their company.
Tattoos are one thing, but real hares embrace danger like an old friend. Aztec legend tells of how the first hare was so headstrong and driven that he angered the Gods of the old world, and so the deities hurled him off the face of the earth and slammed him against the moon as a punishment. Open your mind and look up at the next full moon, and you will see why. Sod the old man, there is a hare in those craters. Seek him out. I feel great sadness for this moon hare, and yet complete admiration. What a way to go! Perhaps this is why the image of a moon-gazing hare is so prevalent now. Are moon-gazing hares paying homage to their brazen ancestor? Is that why they are so cautious now? Is that why I cannot find them? Who knows. Hares won’t tell me. They are secretive bastards.
Secretive or not, hares are my spirit animal. I hope that if riencarnation does exist, then I come back as one of them, long-legged and watchful. I am a natural starer, and love people-watching. Evolution has designed hares to be just this, by giving them periscopic 165 degree vision. No burrows for them. No, they carve out hollows called forms and blend with the earth, playing hide and seek with their predators. Flush to the ground, they drink in the curve of the sky and flirt with the sun’s warmth. My God, they are even playful when it comes to evading their foes, and run in a figure of eight path to exhaust them. Keener eyes than mine have even seen hares rush to the aid of pursued brethren, safely stow their exhausted kin, then act as runners in a relay to relieve their pursued friends so that any attacker is exhausted.
Hares, I salute you. Long may you reign and inspire. I love you, and respect you for your grace, your style and your seductive aloofness.