Author: Cornish, Rick

Hunters and Gatherers
Saturday morning at Hollister’s Good Old Fashioned Festival I had the great fortune of wandering by the camper of Tim and Sue Edes just as they were sitting down to breakfast….and the even greater fortune of being told Tim’d cooked too much. Over eggs easy-over, fried potatoes and bacon, we three chatted for maybe ten minutes before the rabbit incident came up. Sometimes it takes longer…..sometimes even less time for the rabbit to be brought up by one of us. But sooner or later, we discuss the rabbit incident.

Isn’t it funny how some good stories just don’t wear out (at least not for the people who lived them) with the telling? Kind of like those certain few movies, Little Big Man comes to mind, and of course the Wizard of Oz, that can be seen and re-seen, over and over. Okay, now that I’ve built up the rabbit story, let me hasten to admit that it’s not on the scale of Little Big Man, and certainly not the epic tale of Dorothy and the gang. No, it’s a little story, in fact, barely a story at all, but for Sue and Tim and I, it’s one worth re-telling each time we meet.

So, here goes……It was a cold and stormy night, there were all of five or six rigs parked in the grassy area at the Yolo County Fairgrounds (a Veterans day festival quiet Thursday night) and one of them was owned by the Edes. I rap on the door, it opens and I come in out of the cold and rain. I didn’t know Sue very well at all at the time, but we hit it off right from the start. We three sat and chatted for close to an hour in the warmth of the camper, gusts of wind occasionally shaking it on its wheels. Finally I pulled on my heavy down coat, thanked the Edes for their hospitality, opened the door and then quickly slammed it shut.

“My God,” I said, “there’s a rabbit out there.”

Tim thought it was a joke. “Oh, so you’re afraid of rabbits in the dark now…..put that on your candidate’s statement next year. Rick Cornish —INTEGRITY….LEADERSHIP….And did we mention he’s afraid of furry animals with long ears?”

“No, really, there’s a rabbit out there on the ground and it’s alive. But it looks hurt. It’s moving. And I can red. I’m sure it’s blood.”

“Let me see,” Sue said squeezing by me and opening the camper door. She slammed it shut too.

“He’s right, honey. There’s a little rabbit out there and it’s hurt and bleeding. You’ve got to do something.”

Tim looked at me impatiently, as though the rabbit problem were mine.

“So what do you want me to do, Sue, give it mouth to mouth?”

“Get out there Tim,” I laughed, “and save that little critter’s life, just wash up before coming back in. Could have rabies.” Sue glanced at me and wasn’t smiling. So much for our blossoming new friendship.

“Tim, you’ve got to go out there and put that poor animal out of its misery. Just shoot it.”

Tim looked at his wife pleadingly. “Honey, I didn’t bring a gun, what am I gonna kill it with.” There were a few moments of silence. The wind howled outside….the lights in the camper flickered, but just for an instant.

“Well,” I said after a long moment, “I noticed a shovel leaning against the camper. Couldn’t you just, ah, you know, whack it?”

“Couldn’t YOU just whack it?” Tim asked. An even longer silence now.

“I……don’t…..ah…..or haven’t…..ah…..kill, er, killed things. Living things, living things, that is.” They just stared at me. Any other man would have been embarrassed beyond endurance. I just didn’t want to whack the rabbit, and that was all that mattered at that moment. Manly pride be damned.

The wind whaled. For a moment I thought I could hear the little suffering creature.

“For God’s sake, honey, just go out and whack the bunny.”

“Yes, Tim, whack the rabbit.”

“I don’t WANT to whack the rabbit. I’m a hunter. I shoot things. I don’t beat them to death with a shovel……Are you sure there’s a rabbit out there?” Now Tim looked out the door.

“Daaaaaamn,” he droned, closing the door and looking for his boots. “Daaaaaamn!”

Pulling his coat on, Tim made one more protest. “I just don’t really get why it has to be me,” he said, even though he was now clearly resigned to the whacking.

“Well,” Sue said, “you know as well as I do, people fall into one of two groups—hunters and gatherers. Rick and I are gatherers, and Tim, honey, you’re a hunter.”

“I’m definitely a gather,” I said.

Tim sighed, stepped out of the camper and closed the door behind him. I was relieved he’d closed the door, and I was pretty sure Sue was too. We sat in silence. In less than a minute Tim returned holding an empty white plastic bag. “SaveMart” was written on it in brilliant red.

“Here’s your bunny,” Tim said.

Okay, there are variations on the story depending on who tells it. But the facts are the facts. And I’m guessing that when I see the Edes at Plymouth, we’ll revisit that night in Woodland.

Posted:  7/15/2004

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