Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Hare

jackrabbit image credit: painting by artist Jeff Ham

Since I can't seem to get back into MMM right now (MMM is hardly Easter material at any rate), and since I tend to stay away from traditional Easter bunnies (here's my last year's easter animal), I thought I'd "share the hare" ... the Easter Hare, that is!

There are many folklore tales about hares. Instead of a human face, some see a Hare in the Moon. The hare is often associated with female dieties. There's a legend about a bow hunter shooting a hare in the leg with his arrow and following it as it disappears into the woods. He never finds the wounded hare, but does find a beautiful woman sitting on a fallen tree pulling an arrow out of her leg! The ancient Celts considered hares to be so close to the spirit world, they would not eat them. In Ireland they said they would not eat a hare for fear of eating their own grandmother! For some very interesting rabbit and hare symbolism, click here.

As a symbol of springtime and fertility, I think the Hare is as good a symbol for Easter as the bunny rabbit.

A Hare is different from a bunny rabbit in many ways. Hares live in the open, not in warrens or burrows. Hares are born furred and with their eyes wide open. A fully grown Hare is about 2-ft tall, even taller if the legs are fully extended and the ears are fully erect. They are longer-legged and have much longer ears than bunny rabbits. Bugs Bunny looks more like a hare than a wascally wabbit to me!

Desert Jackrabbits are actually hares. They have intelligent long faces. For a photo by Laura Hughes that really captures a jackrabbit's face, click here (it won't blog load).

Relying on speed and leaping ability to evade predators, you won't normally see a hare until you get too close.

On desert hikes, I've been surprised by hares springing straight up out of a bush and leaping away in 15-ft bounds. That'll start your heart, for sure! After a few quick leaps, the hare will jump ever higher as it gains momentum to sail over the desert brush.

Since hares are primarily nocturnal and mostly hiding during the day, seeing one in the daytime like the above photo is quite a treat.

Hares can be very social, too. I've seen large groups of 25-50 congregating out in the desert, their long ears especially visible on a full moon night as they busily nibble sagebrush.

In a happy coincidence for 2009, the moon will still be pretty full on Easter Sunday. Many cultures have names for each month's full moon (for the few months with two full moons, the second one is the Blue Moon). Some of the names for April's full moon are The Pink Moon, The Seed Moon, The Planting Moon, and in some places, yes ... The Hare Moon ...

So, I will be looking for Easter Hares under the mostly-full moon tonight and tomorrow night. If I see any, it will truly be an Easter Hare Moon. Wish I had a night-vision camera!

Happy Easter, everyone!


Annette said...

I have seen them too.. they are neat.. and you are so right.. there is a huge difference in the hares and the rabbit.

Thanks for the well timed break. I think we all needed that.

Happy Easter to you and yours D.K. Hope you have a good one.

D.K. Raed said...

Annette, I wish you a Happy Easter as well! and yes, it seems like I am taking a big break from politics ... have you ever seen jackrabbits all lined up along a lonely highway as you drive along in the moonlight? a few take a moment to look up at your headlights & then quickly resume foraging. that's kind of what I feel like when I think about blogging about politics bloggers are so busy "foraging" they only have a brief moment to stare at any one thought as it speeds by. well, it's probably just a personal phase.

But, LOL, by you mentioning "huge difference", you remind me that hares may seem much bigger than most rabbits, but are so rangy, I think they weigh about the same. Desert Jackrabbits in particular look weatherbeaten and scrawny ... kind of same look that coyotes have. I've never seen a fat jack! Maybe my next diet should include plenty of sagebrush?

eProf2 said...

Same to you, DK. People in Latin America and Japan see the hare or rabbit on the face of the moon and not "the man in the moon." One of my students from Japan pointed that out to me re: the socialization process and the passing on of cultural knowledge and folk lore. I still can't see it, but she told me it's there all right. Anthropologists say it's true, too.

Fran said...

And what of the Jackalope???

When we first moved into my childhood home, the yard had a bunch of wild cottontail rabbits that took up residence in the yard. Right in the middle of the city!

Anyway..... Wild Hares are more fun than politics.

PTCruiser said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing that information, D.K.

D.K. Raed said...

I've seen the Rabbit in the Moon! Or at least I thought I did. What I saw was a big rabbit's face in profile. It looked like a hand shadow silouette. I had to trick my brain not to see the man-in-the-moon face, and voila! the rabbit appeared! Later I found out that the asian and some native americans are seeing a whole rabbit body, complete with little bunny tail, so I guess my brain wasn't entirely tricked.

D.K. Raed said...

I hope the Jackalope you are referring to is NOT those phony rabbit heads with little horns stuck on them, usually seen in sporting goods stores. There is a jackrabbit common in the northern tier of the US referred to as the Antelope Jack, so named because of its great speed & leaping ability, not because it has any antelope-like horns!

We had cottontails all over our fenced avocado grove in san diego. They were probably taking refuge from the coyotes. The problem was when we took our dogs out at night, even though I would turn all the outside lights on to give them notice, the dumber bunnies would freeze in place, which made for a dog chase adventure. Adventure for the dogs, that is. Most of the bunnies ran out under the fence. The occasional caught rabbit did not find it fun. Have you ever heard a rabbit scream? It's nightmarishly terrible!

D.K. Raed said...

Hey, PT, good to see you! Can't imagine you see too many wild hares in your area, but I could be wrong.

I couldn't see any desert hares last night because we had clouds obscuring the moon. I'll try again tonight. It's supposed to be clear and the moon is still 90% full (waning gibbous)!