L’Histoire d’Otis the Rabbit

 

As all stories begin at the beginning, this one begins as a dream. It began in a garden and in the middle of things…

There was once a rabbit who did live in a most beautiful garden in France. This rabbit had an incomprable style, he was a lover of gardening and fine cooking, an ebullient bunny with refined tastes.

He was a potager rabbit, tinkering with herbs and spices and a stock pot. This is how Otis discovered his love for cooking.

One day, while experimenting with his stock pot, he concocted something for his friends and family to taste. They kissed the air and said "C’est Magnifique! Bon!" Soon he was cooking for his little town of St.-Rémy de Provence, his recipes pleased the most fickle of palettes, and it didn’t take long for his reputation to spread. Today, this ordinary bunny with an extraordinary style is known as Otis, the most famous rabbit in all of France.

…But that is merely the beginning of our story…

Otis was curious. He was an adventurer at heart. He longed to see oceans and new lands. Excited, he packed his satchel, and set off to explore the world.

scubaHe traveled many months and saw many things. He passed over oceans, and deserts, in search of a place to call home. Every night before he fell asleep, Otis would always say to his companion frog named Verté, "Mon Amie, I feel az if I am mizzing somezing, somezing is not right." A dreamless slumber would follow, until the morning beckoned him to see a new land. "Could ziz be home, Verté?"

As time passed Otis thought about the French Countryside. He remembered his gardens and his kitchen. He remembered his friends and the little town of St.-Rémy de Provence. He began to wonder why he ever left. Finally, one day Otis realized that his heart belonged to the bounty and fields of France. Packing his satchel and Verté, Otis began his return home. He would have to sail by ferry and then find transport back to France.

Otis slipped onto a ferry and nestled himself underneath the seat of a Big Red Farm Truck, which reminded him of his great uncle’s old lorry. Pulling Verté out of his leather satchel, Otis cozied up and began to sleep. It had been his first peaceful slumber in months. Finally, he was going home.

He awoke in a beautiful garden, filled with carrots, herbs, lavender and apple trees. There was music; the air was filled with the most beautiful music. Everything sang its own song, and the song went on and on… Otis knew this place would be his home.

Otis awoke with a start. It was dark and the air smelled of seawater. Still nestled underneath the seat of his great uncle’s lorry…no it wasn’t his uncle’s lorry at all! He remembered the Big Red Farm Truck, the ferry, and his trip home. Home! There was something he forgot, something he saw…a place, so beautiful… But where was he now?

He shuffled Verté into his pouch and crawled from underneath the seat to peer out of the truck’s window. "Zut, alors! I do not know where I am! All zat I see is ze water. I am at ze sea!" Otis sank into the torn leather seat. His eyes began to water. He was only supposed to cross a small river. His heart sank. He just wanted to get back home…

"Zis is no time to despair. I Otis, Ze Rabbit am not a stow away! I must get back to France!"

Leaping over cars and cogs, Otis scurried from port to bow. He walked the decks of the Lucky Stripe Steamship looking for anyone to tell him where he was headed, but no one was to be found. Eventually he found his way back to the Big Red Farm Truck. It was a good thing he packed a sandwich of parsley, truffles and carrots before he left. He would have to ration it to make sure that it lasted the entire voyage.

It was many days that Otis and Verté sailed on the Lucky Stripe. During the day they watched the sea and at night had long talks about their unknown future. These usually ended with Otis consoling Verté. "Ahh, mon amis, Ça ne fait vien, (it doesn’t matter) we will be fine." And both frog and rabbit would drift to sleep, their dreams rocked by the sea. What Verté dreamt Otis never asked, and his own dreams he couldn’t remember, what remained of them was a feeling of peace that lingered in his heart.

One morning, under a periwinkled sky, The Lucky Stripe Steamship hit port. Otis hid in his now familiar spot under the seat and waited to see where this Red Farm Truck would be taken. That would be his destiny.

…But that is merely the beginning of our story…

Quietly listening, Otis heard an unfamiliar voice. "Ahh, finally my truck! This was my grandfather’s Red Lorry. He left it to me. I remember spending days in the countryside of Scotland, riding in the back of that truck…" the voice rambled on. "Why, I remember…"

"Yeah, yeah" Otis heard another voice say. "Now ya owe me for the transport, and the rest will be billed to ya."

Tucked safely under the seat Otis and Verté waited to see what would happen. The door opened and a man sat on the seat above them. He spent some time talking to the truck, before starting the motor and heading down an unusually twisty road. The windows were open, and even from their position Otis detected a familiar scent. It was lavender! Ah, just like in Provence, he thought. The smells were getting stronger. There was rosemary and honeysuckle and a hint of pine. Otis wished for a view.

When the Red Farm Truck came to a halt, the voice above them again sprang to life, "Jewels, come see the truck! It’s here! It’s here!" The sound of the screen door slamming meant that for the moment the coast was clear. Otis hopped on the seat and peered out the window to view what would be the most breathtaking sight he could have dreamed.

He saw a beautiful garden filled with carrots, herbs, lavender and apple trees. And everything sang it’s own song. Otis knew the song! He heard it before. This was the place of dreams. Otis stopped to breathe, closed his tiny brown eyes and listened to the trees sing their song… a word came to mind…Braeland.

He heard the jingling of a bell and the sound of a door slamming. This was Otis’s cue to leave the Red Lorry and make his way on foot. Leaping out of the window, with his satchel and his friend Verté, he watched as the people circled the Red Farm Truck, admiring its age and endurance. Otis turned and whispered to Verté,…"Braeland"… He knew he was finally home.

…But that is merely the beginning of our story…

 

"This story is dedicated to Lance Huber." --Julie Huber