Stop, thieving rabbits!
Maybe Peter Rabbit's Mr. McGregor wasn't so bad. He just wanted to protect his garden.
'Now, my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden; your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.'
– Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter wrote the tale of Peter Rabbit more than 100 years ago, and it has taken me just over 60 years to come to the conclusion that Mr. McGregor has been much maligned.
When I was a child, my first impression of Mr. McGregor was that he was an angry old man who was not kind to animals, a viewpoint that lodged in my memory – until recently.
Not long ago, I picked up a copy of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" at a book sale. Every time I turned the page of this 1988 edition, I marveled at the artist's rendering of the adorable bunnies.
When I reached the first drawing of McGregor, however, I was awe-struck. This was not the Mr. McGregor of my childhood! My childhood Mr. McGregor was a very old man.
Perhaps it was because it had been almost 50 years since I'd last read the story, but this Mr. McGregor had actually become a little attractive to me.
He wore what appeared to be mirrored sunglasses and a hat that looked as though it had been purchased at a store selling clothing for the casual country gardener.
Was it possible that I had been wrong about him all these years? I picked up the book, read every word, and concluded that Mr. McGregor just wanted a garden to feed his family.
I, too, wanted a garden to feed my body and soul. I live in Wisconsin. During the cold winter months, I spend countless hours carefully planning my garden and browsing through plant and seed catalogs in hopes of an early spring.
I think I'm a fairly nice person. I enjoy the process and ritual of working in the garden. I am willing to share; I know animals have to eat, too.