Next week, we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming.
But it's Christmas. Sort of. And I promised I would tell you what happened on Christmas Eve.
It was a dark and stormy night. A blizzard blew outside, and temperatures, without the wind chill, were well below ten. The snow was accumulating on the roads, and no one was plowing. In short, it was the kind of night when it is inadvisable to drive a small car up a giant hill and then off onto a dirt road in the country, drive it all the way to the end, and then stop at a group of barns and outbuildings that look vaguely familiar. But this is what I did, because it was Christmas Eve night, and Little Z had finally fallen asleep. And Santa Claus had promised to bring her two little bunnies.
So, up the hill I went, in the put put mobile, thinking lovingly about how people are always their best selves on Christmas Eve, as I several times nearly skid off the road. The wind was at twenty nots. (I actually don't know what that means, but it sounds cool.) No other tire marks had yet graced the road. The dark whiteness permeated every corner.
I finally reached the farm, and though I knew of a good place to park, I didn't use it, because that would require going down hill, and if I went down the hill, I would never be able to drive back up again. So, I went out into the blowing snow. Lazarus (his name isn't really Lazarus, but his name is equally biblical and equally creepy) had mentioned that I should go down to the back barn at the bottom of the hill. I didn't want to go to that barn, because it was at the bottom of the hill, so I went to the first barn, at the top of the hill, because it had a light on, so maybe he was home? So, I went to the barn and walked on in, and this is what I found. (Don't click on that if you don't want to see something a little disturbing.)
So, yes, nothing was in that barn except for a tire and a gigantic dead wolf hanging from the ceiling. But, hey, who doesn't have a gigantic dead wolf hanging from the ceiling when Christmas Eve arrives? It's like a Christmas tradition, right? Why, just yesterday, I was cutting down the Yule Wolf when...
No, really, this was so creepy. I stepped back for a minute, repulsed. And then I remembered you, and I stepped back in and took a picture. (The picture would also be a clue for the authorities, later, I thought in the back of my mind.)
My resolve was strengthened, though, by thoughts of sad little girls on Christmas morning with no bunnies.
I took a few steps in one direction, and I heard a voice from the old white farmhouse in the distance,
"What the fuck did you just say to your sister?"
And then I just stopped. Stopped walking. Where the heck was that bunny shack? Who were these people? I'd met them, and knew them as much as everyone knows everyone out here... but... but... but. But. Clearly, these weren't my people. Nevertheless, there be rabbits here, somewhere. I would find them.
The wind whistled. My resolve strengthened. I trudged toward the barn where Lazarus had said the bunnies were. I went down the hill. It was slippery and it was cold, but I made it down. There was too much snow around to see anything until I was right upon it, and then- it was locked! Barricaded! Impassable! The very building he told me to go to!
Back up the hill, I trudged. The whole scene vaguely reminded me of the Flaming Lips movie Christmas on Mars. Except that it was scary. But the walking around part- they do a lot of walking around in that movie.
Back at the top of the hill, I didn't know what to do. But I saw a light, vaguely, in a distant spot, and I followed it. And I was frozen. Literally frozen from cold, but somehow, I walked. I heard noises from this building. Strange noises. Animals of all sorts were cooing and bleating and baaing and everything under the sun. A cacophony of animals. A sound effect for my amazingly creepy feeling. The wind went on. I followed the light. And then, truly, I saw what Alice once saw: A large white rabbit jumped into a doorway. I followed.
And on the other side of the barn door was a jolly fellow, near as Jolly as Saint Nick himself. It was Lazarus. It was Lazarus surrounded by the manger. Jesus himself was about to be born in there, it seemed. There was a beautiful Christmas tree set up in the middle of the barn (seriously, who does this?) and all of God's great creatures were surrounding Lazarus, mooing and baaing and neighing their various calls. And I saw at once why they were so noisy: He was feeding them. They were asking for food.
Lazarus gave out a mighty guffaw at the sight of me,
"Ho ho ho, yeah, that rabbit has been with us since before the farm. He just goes where he will. Funny guy. Sorry about the barn being locked on that side. I didn't think of that until just now..."
All of the magic of Christmas surrounded us. I wanted to take a picture for you, but I feared what Lazarus might think- or what his brother might say ("what the fuck are you doing with that phone there?") and I kept my phone in my pocket. And lo, the miracle of Christmas was upon us, as Lazarus checked the sex of the bunnies,
"I think this one is a girl, but it's hard to tell at this age. If it turns out to be the other, just come back and we can switch it out, you know." He put two sweet little creatures into a Huggies box, and sent me on my way.
Walking back up the hill to my car, my hands froze. My gloves were not good enough for this kind of cold. When I finally made it into the car, bunnies safely placed in the passenger seat, my hands started to warm up and they hurt in the way that only things that have almost gotten terrible frost bight and then haven't hurt. But I had bunnies. And all was right in the world.
I made it home, smuggled them into the cage by the fireplace, and poured myself a stiff eggnog.