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Rabbit Hollow

Would you believe I haven’t been able to post a new blog because my internet has been terrible? We upgraded to satellite internet over the weekend (no Fibre out here!) and so far so good. It’s good to be connected again!

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter and I were meandering through the bush looking at all the different types of fungi around, beautiful moss and of course soaking in all of the gorgeous fall colours above and around us. We came across a largish hole in the ground. It was too big for a chipmunk and in the wrong spot for a fox (and if there was a fox den that close to the chicken coop, pretty sure we wouldn’t have any chickens!)

As I thought about it I realized it is a rabbit hole! Otherwise known as a rabbit warren. I was pretty excited about this discovery because about five years ago I did a major sculpture/installation for a school project of a rabbit hollow.

I used well over 600 books to build it. I purchased about 100 Harlequin romance novels from the thrift store because they were super cheap and I didn't feeling guilty about cutting them up! It was a ton of work but still stands out as one of my favourite pieces.

Here is the concept statement:

“The theme of my sculpture is ‘Home’ and the title of my installation is Rabbit Hollow. The

inspiration for this sculpture comes from the complex system of a wild rabbit’s ‘warren’ or home. I have had the pleasure of observing wild rabbits in some of the neighbourhoods I have lived.

Wild rabbits can live anywhere they can dig a hole. They dig connecting tunnels and nesting areas which are patrolled by the dominant rabbit. There are many hidden entrances and escape routes throughout.

First thoughts of rabbits remind me of Peter Rabbit, a story written by Beatrix Potter. The series of stories about rabbits and other animals being read to me by my mom is a warm and wonderful childhood memory of mine. In the warmth and comfort of my bed, sitting close to my mom, gave me a sense of safety and security.

One of our core needs as humans is having a sense of security. Our homes are our sanctuaries. We should feel safe and secure in our homes. For some though home is not safe or secure and becomes all about survival. Sometimes when we finally achieve a sense of safety in our home it can then become a trap and the outside world becomes threatening.

Using the rabbit hole as a symbol of our own homes and lives: every stage of life, every person and event produces another tunnel, another resting place, hidden entrances that get left unguarded and escape routes that succeed and fail. Using books to build the mound and hole is symbolic of the lives that influence our actual and imagined homes and our sense of safety and security. The stories we read from early childhood on, inform our sense of what makes a home. Each book also represents a life which symbolizes the volume of experiences, values and ideals that influence us.

The focus of the sculpture is the somewhat hidden entrance. It's in plain view for those who seek to see it, easily missed by everyone else. Likewise in reality, we have our own ideals of what ‘home’ looks like. We see a glorified version of ‘home’ in Hollywood and on Facebook for example. Naming the installation Rabbit Hollow rather than a rabbit hole draws attention to the surface of the ‘warren’ and all the things you can't see or choose to ignore.”

It’s interesting to me how relevant this is to The Butterfly Project - and really amazing how I found an actual rabbit warren on my property! We really want to create an environment that feels like a “home away from home”, a safe place, a sanctuary. It seems our first guests are chipmunks and rabbits! We have a prolific number of chipmunks and red squirrels around, and I’m guessing rabbits too, having seen the evidence of their home and knowing their reputation for procreation.

This may sound silly but one of the ways we have protected our flock of chickens and ducks is by playing a podcast using a wireless speaker while they are outside through the day. We also hung a couple of shirts in the trees that move in the breeze. I learned this the hard way, after watching a fox carry off one of my hens last spring from right underneath my living room window.

The other way we protect our flock is with our presence. I’m fortunate to be able to do most of my work from home and as a family we are always eager to be outside. Presence matters. The fox may not like us, but the smaller creatures do. If we’re around, they’re safe to move about as they need to!

Our past experiences, knowledge we’ve gained, and the people we know (and even the chipmunks and chickens!) and your support, all contribute to the intricacies involved in developing this place as a refuge for hurting, vulnerable people. Even when the internet is down, or it doesn’t seem like a whole lot is happening, there is an entire network just underneath the surface that is working towards the goal.

I am reassured by this and I hope in your own daily pursuits, you are as well.

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