The three of us had been hiking since just before noon in the Hellhole Canyon portion of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and were in the final quarter-of-a-mile of the return trip when the encounter occurred. Musing over potential resolutions for the Solar New Year and enjoying the cooler temperatures in the long shadows of afternoon had gotten us through the previous few hundred yards but we were hoping for a wildlife sighting, something more substantial than the explosion of quail tracks that kept pace with us off to the side of our footpath.
No telling how many there had been, but they’d been in a hurry by the looks of it, and they had been gone long before we had arrived to even begin our hike. Other than that, the hummingbirds had been our only companions, and they weren’t particularly pleased to see humans traipsing through the territory. They let us know with annoyed little “chirrup” sounds as they whizzed about our heads. It was hard not to be amused at how ineffective they were in their irritation, and we reflected on the Medicine of Joy they are known to possess whilst we made our way out of their personal territories.
We could see the truck in the distance, waiting patiently for us to return to the parking area at the trailhead, and I turned back to let the two behind me know we were close. When I turned to face forward once more I stopped so suddenly that the pair behind me did likewise, peering around me to see what had caused the traffic jam.
There was a jackrabbit sitting sedately not ten yards ahead of us, right in the middle of the path. The light shone through its enormous ears as it swiveled them in our direction. It stared at us. We stared back. One of the two hikers behind me moved off the path to the right and quietly readied her camera, taking up a spot on the other side of a mesquite bush. And still, the jackrabbit sat right in front of us, observing.
Then the dancing began.
First it scratched at the ground quickly, washed a bit, then sat upright and looked at me, first over its nose, then giving me its profile. After a moment it leapt up and bounded around the outside of the mesquite bush to take up a position in front of our companion’s camera. It repeated the sequence. It capered and bounced, around the bush one way and then the other to take a seat in front of both of us in turn. At one point it took off straight across the path into the chollas and we waited half a minute or more before conceding it had probably moved on when suddenly it was back to take up its dancing spot in front of the camera. Back and forth it danced for us, and at one point it was so close to me that I had to stifle a laugh. The ridiculous proportions of the ears and whiskers to its head were absolutely comical. It stayed its ground, pausing for a moment before resuming its dance.
This went on for almost ten minutes. With a few departures and careening returns when we had almost given up hope of seeing any more of it, the jackrabbit was being very deliberate in its time with us, and once it was truly gone from our midst we just as deliberately gave it some of our time in return.
We looked up all we could find on rabbit and hare lore, legend and spiritual significance, poring over it together and taking turns reading aloud items that we found to be of interest or significance. The most consistent thread connecting all that we found was a description of the progression of tasks, projects or life changes occurring in great leaps and bounds, which was interesting and even apt in some cases, though we definitely felt our rabbit had danced for us rather than leapt or bounded about the hiking trail.
In the end what we ended up focusing on was the rabbit’s connection to the moon and as a guide to new worlds and adventures. Think Alice in Wonderland here and you’ll have a perfect idea of the wonder of our experience. It was actually the following day when we realized that the Chinese New Year was not far off and on a hunch looked up what sign would rule 2011. And were we surprised? Nope. There it was: The Year of The Rabbit.
Since all of us on the hike that day are artists and performers, we took it as a particularly fortunate sign that a rabbit had chosen to join us after the challenging day hike was nearly complete. We had overcome our obstacles, and now we were given an unexpected reward, a theme recurrent in many Asian legends, proverbs and folk tales. So in addition to a brilliant and multi-faceted feast (two of us were carnivores and one vegan) it was necessary to brew up a celebratory potion so that we could raise glasses in thank to our friendly rabbit for reminding us that acting on some of our long-held dreams and ideas in 2011 is not only good policy, but the very best thing we could do for ourselves and our lives. We all three have promised to keep up with one another throughout the year to see what sort of excitement unfolds.
What followed was a vodka drink that materialized as an organic group effort. Interestingly, I had much less on hand in the way of ingredients than I usually like, but these things have a way of working out. I took the first three ingredients and muddled them thoroughly in the shaker before adding the ice and the vodka. The shaking was quite energetic let me tell you, but the Agave nectar really needed the extra bump and grind to get it to mix, especially with the ice added to the equation. It’s totally worth the athletic portion of the program to get there. Trust me.
And I blame the name on the fact that we tested two or three drinks each before realizing we needed to give it a title. Happy Year of the Rabbit!
Fresh grated ginger
Teaspoon of fresh lime juice
Teaspoon of Agave nectar
3 to 4 parts vodka (to taste … we kept adding more to cut the sweetness down a bit)
Cheers~Charon, The Most Dangerous Beauty Alive
Charon Henning is one of a handful of female sword swallowers in the world today. She’s performed on carnival midways and at wine tastings, on theater stages and grassy lots.
Charon also reads tea leaves professionally, a skill she inherited from her grandmother on her mother’s side of the family. Tea-leaf reading is a wonderful and elegant form of entertainment, suitable for many time periods and venues.
Charon loves being on the road seeing new places and meeting new people. Want to catch Charon on the road for her live show? View her tour schedule here. Or, book Charon’s talent for your next event!