Saturday, 23 June 2012
A parliament of hares and a downpour of rain
On the way here last night, a magical scene: glimpsed in a field beside the lane, a circle of hares, all gazing inwards, motionless in the moment that we passed. I've heard occasional stories of these rarely witnessed gatherings -- known as a parliament of hares -- but never seen one for myself. No camera to hand -- although if we'd stopped, I'm sure the hares would have vanished -- yet a sight impossible to forget.
There's something about hares that makes me think of Ted Hughes; including a sinister episode that he recounted (invented?) in a letter to his sister Olywn, written on 10th February 1963, not long before Sylvia Plath's suicide: ‘I drove up to London, ran over a hare (by pure chance – it’s impossible to do it deliberately) sold it to a butcher’s in Holborn and he gave me five bob. I spent it on roses – 4 I got for 5/-, smashed two, & gave 2 to Assia.’ (Assia was his lover, who also subsequently killed herself).
I hope that doesn't sound too dark an association for a midsummer Saturday; not least because the sight of a hare always seems to me to be a blessing. But the superstitions surrounding hares are contradictory; my good luck could be translated by others as a portent of doom. Once upon a time, witches were said to disguise themselves as hares, and yet folklore also suggests that a wish may come true if made after sighting a hare.
Shall I wish for sunshine on my wedding day? Or does that tempt the gods to do otherwise? As I write this, the clouds have not yet lifted, but the heavy downpour has turned into a soft rain, perfect for walking along the lane, in search of a glimpse of a hare...