Monday, July 13, 2020

Jigsybelle: an Easter bunny for all time

| April 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Editor’s note: This column originally was published April 25, 2011, in the Daily Inter Lake.

When my brother Rodney was about 7 and I was 10, he decided he wanted to raise rabbits.

Childhood pets were plentiful around the farm. We always had a dog, way too many cats and dozens of cute Holstein calves at any given time. We dabbled in goldfish and graduated to a full-blown aquarium with angel fish (another of Rod’s whims) and at one time had twin lambs named Mooney and Draggie.

It was no surprise that when Rodney put in a request for bunnies, my parents made it happen. An old brooder house for chickens was transformed into a rabbit pen, complete with a screened outdoor addition that we used as a jail holding cell when we played cops and robbers. This rabbit palace doubled as a clubhouse for my brothers and me. We called it Hillfoot Hideout. The password, thought up by my brainy oldest brother Arlen, was “electricity.”

And so it was that Jigsybelle came to live with us. She was a beauty, a rather large New Zealand white. With her pink ears and eyes, she was the quintessential Easter bunny. Rodney loved that rabbit and toted her around until she’d had enough and would shimmy out of his arms. Then it was a scramble to catch Jigsybelle and get her back in her quarters.

We had other rabbits, too, but none of us seem to remember their names. Jigsybelle was the clear favorite.

It was a very sad day when Jigsybelle escaped from her hutch and was killed by one (or more) of our barnyard cats. Rodney buried her in the backyard and not long after that gave up on rabbits all together.

This is where the story takes a turn.

A couple of years, or more, after Jigsybelle died, Arlen, who had kind of a mad scientist streak in him and was always doing experiments with his chemistry set, decided we should dig up Jigsybelle’s bones.

I’m not sure if it was morbid curiosity or temporary insanity, but I agreed to accompany him to the gravesite. He dug and dug and finally pulled some bones out of the ground. It’s one of those memories seared for perpetuity — dirty, chicken-like bones with clumps of yellow stuff (I’m assuming fat that hadn’t yet decomposed).

We looked at each other and quickly covered up the bones with dirt and never spoke of the incident again. We knew it was probably a cardinal sin.

Not too long ago I was chatting with Rodney on the phone and asked him if he remembered the time we dug up Jigsybelle.

A long silence commenced on the other end.

“You dug up Jigsybelle? You desecrated my rabbit’s remains?” he asked, horrified at the thought.

For some reason I thought he’d been with us when we conspired to go grave-robbing. It’s funny how childhood memories get muddled sometimes.

“Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry. I thought you knew about that,” I told him.

We had a good laugh by the time we were finished, joking about how he’d now need some serious therapy to get over the trauma.

I thought today, this Easter Sunday, might be a good time to remember Jigsybelle and the joy she brought to our young lives. And ask for some belated forgiveness. Sorry, Rod, I promise never to dig up any of our other childhood pets.

Long live Jigsybelle’s memory. She was a good bunny.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at