Rabbits are chickens?!
That's no rabbit
You know how in English we call someone who is fearful a 'chicken'? Well, in Italian instead of 'chicken' they say 'rabbit'. Yes, a lily-livered person, someone who, in the face of danger, bellows 'run away!' - that's a rabbit.
Well, I've said it before and now I'm going to say it again - to anyone who associates 'rabbit' with fearfulness and timidity I say this - 'I fear you do not know rabbits very well.'
I shall explain.
Where to start? Well, I could start by telling you about when I believed rabbits to be shy and retiring creatures.
Apricot was plonked in my life four years ago. She was literally plonked on me. I signed up for a seven kilometre run, was given a raffle ticket as part of my enrolment fee and three hours later when my number came up, found myself with a baby floppy eared rabbit shoved into my arms.
I know, I know, it's not the sort of thing you should give as a prize in a raffle - I agree but village raffles in the Italian countryside aren't so fussy about these things.
But anyway, I'm rambling - let's cut to a few days afterwards. I have to point out she was quite a demure and quiet little thing for the first few days. Only little things did I notice - at seven o'clock as I started to prepare the dinner on her second day in the flat, I turned round to see her there, looking up at me.
What a coincidence! I thought naively, it's almost as though she knows when it's time to get dinner ready!
At breakfast the next morning it happened again - low and behold, there she was, looking up from my feet.
This coincidence kept on repeating itself, breakfast, lunch and dinner until it was her going into the kitchen at seven o'clock and staring accusingly at me from the door if I was late.
The rules were quickly laid down - eating my dinner before giving her hers was an absolute no-no. Resistance was useless - she had ways of getting salad leaves out of me....
Emotional blackmail works every time.
But I'm supposed to be disproving the theory that rabbits are 'chickens'...and as I said, once I believed them to be so. It was a perfectly natural thing to think - after all everyone knows rabbits are fearful.
"You'll have to be careful with her when there's a thunderstorm," our next door neighbour warned us, shaking her head ominously. "One of my friends had a rabbit and she died of fright during a storm."
With hindsight, I presume she was referring to her friend but at the time I had had Apricot only a few days and gasped in horror. I awaited the next thunderstorm with baited breath. And it wasn't just Apricot I was worried about - thunderstorms are something I've never liked myself; words cannot describe how I feel on these occasions - thunder and fireworks are two things that crack like a whip through my soul, my instinct it to run and hide under the bed.
Who knows how a little rabbit must feel?
When the next thunderstorm came I hardly noticed her reaction - it was every man for himself I'm afraid and I leapt under the cushions on the sofa.
But as I peeped out I couldn't help but notice my rabbit's reaction.
Thunder didn't appear to phase her overly. Or perhaps she was nervous and was doing a good job of hiding it.
Either way, she carried on doing a good job of hiding it through every storm, gale, torrential hail...you name it.
There are always fireworks to consider on New Year's Eve and, as we're right by the town centre, it can be quite a frightening experience. I, for one, keep inside and there's no way I'll go out onto the balcony on those nights but for Apricot it's business as usual. I can't honestly say she likes them but they don't spoil the taste of her hay.
Of course, like humans, not all animals have the same personality. I'm sure there are plenty of timid rabbits out there, just as there are timid dogs, cats and people. But as a whole, I've seen that rabbits are much more feisty than people give them credit for.