Follow the white rabbit 

The Observer's belated ode to Halloween: Like horrors on the tides they came to The Observer's front door, wave after wave, gory-masked, full-body-suit weird and fake-blood-splattered. Then, there was the boy in the button-down shirt, tie and slacks. "Businessman?" we yelled after him as he made off with his Reese's buttercup. "Math teacher," he said over his shoulder. Scary to some, I guess.

Oh, and Pablo Picasso showed up, too.

The Observer is, of course, a chronicler of all things strange and wonderful, but stuff does slip off our back burner and fall behind the stove from time to time — even the oddest of things. So it is that we forgot to tell you in recent weeks about seeing a large, white rabbit roaming the wilds of Stifft Station.

We'd seen him twice on Maple Street, both times on the north side of the big hill above Plateau that we nicknamed Old Misery some years ago when Yours Truly began nightly walks from The Observatory to Markham and back. We first took it to be a white cat, but the way it moved and a pair of unmistakable ears quickly proved it to be a huge, fluffy, perfect bunny like something from a children's storybook, the creature flashing across the street from left to right before disappearing into the bushes, always at night, always just at the edge of our headlights, no pocket watch in evidence but obviously very, very late for his date with Alice. It took us awhile to believe what we were seeing, even though we regularly catch glimpses of rangy brown city rabbits sitting in our driveway in the spring. No, this one was different: The Ghost Rabbit of Maple Street; somebody's pet, maybe, either let loose by an owner tired of finding rabbit beans in the hallway courtesy of a grown-too-big Easter present, or absconded through a gap in the wire of a cage somewhere, the Call of the Wild heard and answered. Clearly an Omen, we chuckled to Spouse the first time we saw him, even though we're both too old and pickled by the rigors of the world to believe in such nonsense, even when no less than Lewis Carroll is on the other end of the cosmic telephone. Still, Your Correspondent must admit that it took a good bit of willpower to keep from stopping the car, taking our Beloved by the hand, and following our friend down the rabbit hole.

We recalled this to tell you about it, sadly, because the Ghost Rabbit is gone. Driving up Maple Street the other night in the rain, we saw the sad, sodden lump of white fur in the road. Though we hoped against hope, our eyes soon made out the ears and the rabbit's foot, lucky no more. Though we considered getting out and dragging the body into the bushes, the night was dark and cold, and our warm house beckoned. Instead, we motored respectfully into the other lane and left him behind, a meal for whatever dutifully retrieves the dead from Maple Street by moonlight.

It occurs to us that there is a truth here, friends — some sad fact, and not a pretty one. Something about fairy tales, maybe, which is too depressing to say out loud. Then again, we're probably reading too much into it, as we're prone to do. Besides, if you're adult enough to have read this far, we don't have to say it aloud for you to understand it, do we?

Eager to get out of town and see the paintbrush of fall, The Observer and family motored out to the pavilion and dock on the Maumelle River at Pinnacle Mountain on Sunday, not a prettier place in all the world by our reckoning. There, walking in the woods just off the parking lot, we happened upon a white chef's apron, white and fairly clean, but wadded and hurled into the bushes. The Observer is a storyteller, and so we couldn't help but imagine how it came to be there: A junior chef, fresh from a dressing down by the crabby Frenchman over a collapsed souffle, comes out to smoke, mutter and contemplate by the river. Eventually, having decided To Hell With It, he casts his apron into the weeds, gets in his car, and turns the wheel toward the coast. He knew a girl there once, who taught him how to make a roux.



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