by the elephant
We join The Rabbit in her kitchen seeing if we’ll be able to hop into her head for a bit. Of all the characters in The Tree, the audience may find this fluffy bunny to be the most intriguing of all. Try as they might, they cannot figure her out. Is it her love of carrots? Is it her unique way of problem solving? Is it in fact because she has misplaced a few of the carrots in her own noggin?!? A bowl of these orange veggies sits in between us, The Rabbit’s food offering to a well-known reporter.
The Elephant: Hello Rabbit, thanks for these carrots, they’re scrumptious!!! Do you grow them yourself? I can really taste the difference between these different varieties, well done, well done.
The Rabbit: Hello Ellie, welcome to my kikity kitchen! As for the carrots, the simplest explanation is the appalling fact that THERE ARE NO CARROTS ON THIS HARE-BRAINED TREE! None to be found. Why would anyone create something so deeply flawed?!?
TE: But Rabbit, a carrot is a root, not a fruit.
TR: What I was trying to say Ellie, was that this tree doesn’t grow any carrots, no one in this tree grows any carrots, and there are NO CARROTS—
TE: A root, Rabbit.
TR: …anywhere. So. I am a genius and have collected these different froots from the tree. Yes, froots. I have then washed and sanitized them. Then I make one end extremely pointy, using any materials close by. Finally I apply a coat of orange paint, place some foliage on the top, and turn them into carrots. Oh, and then I arrange them neatly in a bowl.
TE: …I’m not sure that’s how it works…but let’s back up. Tell me about how you stumbled onto this idea of
TR: Sure it is! When The Wolf puts on grandma’s clothes, he’s grandma, when he puts on sheep’s clothes he’s a sheep, when I put on The Wolf’s clothes I’m The Wolf. When you add an ‘f,’ a root becomes a froot. And these, these here are carrots. Understand?
TE: Well Elephants are very intelligent, therefore, yes I understand. So…I guess I’ll eat this…strawberry-shaped carrot. Thank you very much Rabbit. Saaay, you don’t happen to have any peanut-shaped carrots do you?
TR: Oh what I’d give for some carrot-shaped carrots! Do you have any idea how much time I spend sharpening and carving, carving and sharpening, painting?
TE: Why yes Rabbit, I think I do.
TR: And you know what?? They’re creating purple carrots.
TR: The Tree! Ye Olde Paint Shoppe! How should I know?? I am not buying purple paint! You wouldn’t happen to know if there are any purple froots, wouldya?
TE: (visions of mangosteens dancing in her head) No! Not a one, as far as I know! So tell me about the first carrot you created at The Tree.
TR: That thing? Most disgusting carrot I’ve ever made. But you know what they say, you’ve gotta grind a lot of froots to make carrots? Sometimes even carrots—have you seen those baby carrots?? Why, the abomination! But I’ve never made one that tasted quite so bad since that first one, so I’d say I’m learning the ropes.
TE: I believe this is a photo of the experience?
TR: Eugh. That it is. The taste made me play my cymbals a halfnote too early, that carrot ruined the screeching finale!
TE: That was you?! I was wondering who ruined the ending. Not that the girl was even paying attention. Fruit hoarder, that one. Maybe it was a timing issue—your brain thought your hands were playing the cymbals, sent the message to them … and your hands said ‘no, brain, as you can see (sending a quick message to the eyes) we’re not playing the cymbals, you might try the ears’ and so by the time the message got to the ea-
TR: Yes, I get the idea, Ellie. But it wasn’t my fault! Or my brain’s! It was that stupid worm—er…carrot. Anyway, I wasn’t skilled at that point in seeing a froot’s outer carrot. I had just moved from the paradise hutch by the brook in the glen, still trying to hold onto my dream of catching on with Looney Tunes. An extra. Stand-in. Mr. Bunny’s personal carottier. Anything that might pay me in carrots. But to paraphrase Dorothy, if I ever go looking for carrots again, I won’t go any further than my own backyard in The Glen.
TE: Why did you leave the hutch by the brook in the glen if it was so perfect?
TR: How should I know?? Talk to the illustrator. One day I’m digging up a juicy, fibrous, water-soaked carrot, just the right size and sweetness, next thing I’m listening to some parrot squawk about a girl! I suppose I should be grateful, I mean the author casually mentioned my species in a throwaway reference on page ferret. But do I get a page number?? And then later on page banana, the parrot suggests the girl should eat a carrot instead of fruit! It was the illustrator who saw my true potential, my genius. But I wasn’t cut out for playing the tragic hero. Talk to that illustrator, and you may understand what it’s like to be a rabbit in a book about a tree.
TE: At least your face is drawn.
TR: Yeah. To the literary world you’re the mystery elephant. What was that all about? Yes my face is drawn. But could it be grumpier?? Do I seem like a grumpy rabbit to you??!!!
TE: Not at all, Rabbit, not at all. Tell me more about your first ‘carrot’ conquest.
TR: Well, at first I just did it on a lark.
TE: On a lark? Did she mind?
TR: No no, not the bird. A lark. You know, an impulse. Sometimes Ellie, your vocabulary…
TE: Too long in the tree. Yes of course. A lark.
TR: All the sudden one day, here’s this big green storefront, appears out of nowhere, with a sign ‘Ye Olde Paint Shoppe’ hanging just inside. It was that illustrator, I’d bet my day’s supply of froots on it! And there was this red carpet, very inviting, at the front door. More pink, really, now that I think of it. And forked at the end—I thought at the time so that two customers could enter together. How was I to know it was a giant stuffed snake, and the carpet was a retractable tongue? What kind of illustrator does that to unsuspecting furry woodland creatures?? The nightmares . . .
TE: It’s outrageous. Do continue.
TR: So there was the sign—sale on orange paint—today only! Well I remember seeing that worm playing cards with the parrot, monkey and ferret. How does a worm play cards anyway? Lousy card player. But it was the shape that caught my attention. So…carrot-like. When I walked into the anaconda’s mouth, things just fell into place. The paint, the brush, the giant pencil sharpener that doubled as a drum on page blueberry, thanks to the illustrator’s warped imagination. But I glimpsed my future. I would create a new class of fruits, one that would double, triple, quadruple the number of carrots available to animals living in, on or near giant trees with thousands of…potential froots.
TE: I’m beginning to grasp your master plan, Rabbit. Carry on!
TR: I would make them, but at first the process was sloppy. Spilt paint. Emptying the pencil sharpener from a high tree branch.
TE: Ewww. No need to paint that picture, Rabbit! Especially for the ants!
TR: Now I’ve honed it down to a precise art and I get real pleasure from the completion of my creations. Sometimes even my creations appreciate the beauty of the things that I have created, such as my first carrot. They get a little too infatuated with their ‘makeovers.’ It’s also why I have removed all the mirrors I could find—they forget that even art is impermanent.
TE: Impermanent, or potentially edible?
TR: Difference, please?!
TE: Wow. That’s deep, Rabbit.
TR: Yeah. My favorite part is sharpening the end, I like to pretend that I’m a mad scientist at this particular step because it makes everything way more fun. Whoever said not to play with your food wasn’t a rabbit.
TE: Yes, well. That’s not quite as…deep.
ANNIE-THE-CONDA: I’ll thsssay! Who’thsss up for a round of poker? Huh? Huh? I’ll play any game with you, you choose I play, waddaya say to that? Roll the dithssssce? Thssssnake eyes winths, of courthse! Pretty good odds wouldn’tcha thsssay? We can play in the foyer of Ye Olde Paint Thssshoppe if you like!
TR: Ahhhhh! Ye Olde Paint Shoppe finally has it in for me! Or worse…the illustrator!
TE: I hear ya, Rabby—The Little Prince comes to mind…let’s change subjects!
ANNIE-THE-CONDA: (burps out a mouse she ate for breakfast)
TE: AHHHHH! A mouse!!!!!!!!
ANNIE-THE-CONDA: I don’t take kindly to thsshoplifters. Forkthss, tuna in “next time” for another interview by The Elephant! Ellie, come down out of that tree before you break the branch! Relaxth!! I’ve got a paint shoppe to run, I don’t have thssix months to digethsst large mammalthsss!
TR: Annie, be nicer to the local fauna!
ANNIE-THE-CONDA: This from a rabbit who is painting fruits and small creatures orange and sharpening them to a point?
TE: Yes, well folks, that’s nature for ya! Survival of the fittest! Off to the treadmill! Tune in next time for another edition of Interview with The Elephant!
TR: (bouncing away quickly), “Hopping mad I tell ya, HOPPING MAD!!”
Annie: Another missssssssed ssssssssale! Aw ssssssssssshucks!
McGarrett F: Hey, that’s my line!
Edward Scissorhandles: Why does McGarrett get all the good lines??
Monkey: Would you rather have a nail in your tail feather?
Butterfly: That’s a cryin’ shame, it oughta be against the law, Monkey!
Monkey: Thank you. If I ever find those worms ….
TR: Say, that butterfly looks familiar…And what’s that purple thing up there in the tree?