Monday, 17 January 2011

Old Wives Tales: The Second Lesson - The Farmer And The Hares

You will have figured out by now that I am fascinated by superstitions and 'old wives tales'. I am not shy to admit it. I treat them mainly as my personal weather forecast.

I stopped to chat to one of the farmers in the market town after the school run. "Will we get anymore snow?" I asked him.

"No I don't think we'll be getting much," he replied. "I'm a great believer in watching nature. I watch the hares. If the hares don't the hares don't come down from the high ground onto the farm land, then there won't be much snow."

Mysterious creatures hares. In Medieval times they were thought of as witches in disguise. They are magical in their movement, preferring the open ground to promote their natural speed. They do not burrow and lie close to the ground which makes them vulnerable to predators. When they are frightened they duck down and remain motionless, hoping the danger will go away.

Poor old hares have had a bashing in our part of the world. Last winter, the two months of snow eradicated many, who were unable to find food. They jumped over fences into people's gardens and the stripped all the bark off the roadside trees in search of any form of nourishment. They became thinner and thinner and many starved to death. When the snow melted, there were carcases all over the place. I even found one under the wheelie bin.

I haven't seen many hares recently, but I keep looking. And when they are close to the road, I'll be grabbing the shovel and putting it back in the front of the bus.

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