I love this time of the year. Here in Savannah Spring teases us. It gets very warm and within days our cars are covered with clouds of yellow pollen, our heads are stuffed up, and lo and behold the first buds of azalea bushes start to peak through the branches. Birds are hopping about looking for nesting materials and squirrels are busy making more squirrels. For a few weeks before the actual onset of Spring, Savannah moves between being very warm and being frigid with gusts of wind coming off the ocean sharp enough to slice a roast.
The little ones are already anxiously awaiting the time when they can run around in shorts and pull out the water slide. The grill is daring me to clean it and photos of hand painted Easter eggs hung on trees bring back old memories of celebrating Ostara with my Grandmother. I plan to do something similar with my sons this year as well as participate in our annual Ostara picnic in the park at Forsyth Park on March 23rd. For now though, my mind and heart is tenderly reminded of stories my Grandmother told me of winged bunnies and a saucy little girl that had a heart as big as the whole world, and apparently a mouth as big as well.
My Grandmother told me this story when I was a wee witchling and I tell my sons the same story every year. One day they will also tell their children this story. I'm not sure where the history of this story lies or how old it is really, but I'm 44 and I was very small when my Grandmother first told it to me so it has been around a lot longer than I have.
It started with a little girl who lived in a tiny house near the Black Forest. It was very cold and her mother asked her to get firewood. The little girl went out, grabbed some logs, but was distracted by a pitiful sound of a bird crying in the forest. Thinking this wee bird was in trouble, the little girl dropped the fire wood and ran into the woods to help it. But the deeper she went the more lost she became until her hands and feet were numb with cold and she began to get very hungry.
Finally she found the wee bird. Its little body was very stiff and it was barely breathing. She put the little bird in her cloak and talked to it. She promised to take the wee bird home and take care of it if it would just get better. When she realized the little bird was not going to get better, she started crying. Her tears froze to her cheeks and when she was finally without hope she cried out to the Goddess to help the little bird. Unaware that she herself was also freezing to death, she begged the Goddess to come and help the little bird. In the distance she heard twigs snapping and saw bright green leaves sprouting on trees. Tiny white flowers appeared on smaller trees and flowers popped out of the ground.
Standing in front of her was the Goddess dressed in a gown of green leaves and with a ring of flowers in her hair.
The little girl held up the tiny bird and said to the Goddess, "Fix it! She's very sick and I can't fix her! I put her under my cloak but she is still stiff!" The Goddess being a bit unused to this manner of address, looked at the little girl and said, " Let the wee bird sit on the ground little one." And doing what the Goddess said, the little girl placed the still stiff bird on the ground near the Goddess's feet. The warmth from Her was already warming the little girl and her tears now flowed down her cheeks.
Scooping the little bird up, She blew on the little bundle and set it in a patch of thick clover. The little bird fluttered and flittered but could not make its wings move correctly. If the bird could not fly it would not be able to get away from cats! The little girl knew there were things that would eat it if it could not get up and fly away.
" NO! No! You didn't fix her! She still can't fly!" The Goddess looked at the little girl with a very annoyed expression. Only hours before She had walked out of the Earth and began waking up the plants and flowers around Her and this little one was very demanding indeed! Still, She admired her spunk and knew she only spoke out of love for the wee bird.
The Goddess knelt down and putting a pretty clover leaf behind the little girl's ear she brushed away her tears and whispered, "Watch this!" ...Before the little girl's eyes the little bird had transformed into a brown and white bunny and hopped away leaving a trail of brightly colored eggs behind her! Squealing with delight, the little girl followed the bunny and her eggs until she reached her little home at the edge of the forest.
Her mother, who was beside herself, welcomed her little girl home with a big hug and welcomed her new pet with a big bunch of carrots.
Such is the story of the very first Ostara bunny!