Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a new hero

My oldest sister was ten the year I was born. Her stories of growing up in Blue River have a familiar tang. They involve people and places I know. Occasionally, our stories intersect, or overlap, and I am reminded of the old parable of the five blind men and the elephant. Each one, upon touching the elephant described it. Each was sure that the elephant was like a tree, a piece of rope, a wall.
When my sister read a story that I had posted earlier in the summer, her teenage recall was different enough that I felt the story should have the altered version told.
Here first of all is the original story.

Grading a road is an acquired skill. My father spent many a long and bumpy day ploughing snow, winging shoulders and grading highways, byways and side roads.
All the roads around Blue River were gravel or dirt, and weather and wheels were not kind to them.
Remote as that town was, strangers passing through on their way to "somewhere" would find themselves sticking like a burr to a sock before life tugged them onward.
They would take whatever work they could turn their hand to.
Bob Underhill of motorcycle racing fame was one such vagabond.
Somehow, he ended up in a grader high on a dusty mountain road.
These were dangerous roads.
I'm sure he was warned to watch for logging trucks.
And I'm sure steep banks would have been mentioned too.
It's a pity no one thought to mention rabbits.
As the novice grader driver rounded a curve, a baby rabbit froze in the middle of the narrow gravel road.
Bob Underhill sealed his fate and drove, or rather, crashed over the embankment imperilling his life, the grader, and the mental health and blood pressure of his foreman.
He eventually stood in our doorway and opened his lunch box. To our surprise and delight, a brown baby bunny gazed blandly back at us.
It was given the run of the house for a time, hopping and darting and hiding, especially at night. I woke once to find moonlight glowing on my bed, the rabbit pausing on my pillow mid-leap.
Raising rabbits is an acquired skill and one my mother had no interest in perfecting and so our rabbit was encouraged to return to wild ways in the wild woods, far beyond highway and byway and side road.

Truth be told, Bob Underhill crashed over the bank of that dusty mountain road because his attention was elsewhere; on a baby rabbit in the cab of his grader. Perhaps it was leaping madly about. Perhaps he had stuffed it into his lunchbox and was checking to see if it had enough air.
He had thought to rescue it.
In the end, he had to rescue himself. 
Bob Underhill eventually stood outside our door alright, but it was to confess that the grader was over a bank. His explanation included a small rabbit that he admitted was inside his lunchbox miles away in the grader cab.
My father and mother had been about to head out for the evening.
Nothing could be done about the grader that night, and likely, nothing could have been done about Bob Underhill, but the rabbit........
My father headed off into the evening, over a long, bumpy, winding mountain road to rescue a tiny rabbit that had been hyperventilating in the cramped quarters of a lunchbox. Dad to the rescue.
I'm so glad my sister read my story and set me straight.
There is a new hero.
Thanks Dad!

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