The other day, when Richard was mowing the grass, he spotted a tiny pair of ears in the wildflowers at the bottom of a stone wall in our orchard.
On closer but careful inspection, the little creature was identified as a very young leveret. Such a beautiful animal, it gazed at us with its dreamy eyes. We left it in peace. Mother Hare would not be very far away, and our small visitor no doubt has siblings hiding out close by in hedges and in wall-bottoms.
Hares are pretty well nocturnal creatures although of course we see them in daytime too. Mother Hare will have selected a safe hiding-place for daytime for each of the babies in her litter. At night she will come and collect them all and together they will nibble the grass and flowers in the dark fields. Hares aren’t like rabbits, or cats, they only keep their babies with them for a very short time after they are born, the babies do suckle but very soon they learn to eat grass and they become independent after a few short weeks. While they are still small though, It’s a lovely sight to see Mother Hare coming across the fields at dusk to collect her infants for their night’s activities and then sometimes, only sometimes, you might be lucky enough to see her re-distributing them in their hidey-holes for the day.
Hares feature large in mythology, they are associated with the lunar cycle and fertility and are very much in evidence at Easter. The symbol of three hares chasing each other in a circle appears in many stone carvings in churches and is considered to be a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
Whatever the mystery of the hare is, we all love them for their gentleness, beauty and fantastic turn of speed.
I am delighted to have the little leveret in the orchard, I hope, however, that he doesn’t do a Peter Rabbit and squeeze under the gate of the Kitchen Garden for a Midnight Feast!