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#160-Burrow June 13, 2001.

This month, J.P. Rayne digs deep into the past as she explores her connection to the word ‘burrow’, found on an inspiring slip of paper in the Heart-Shaped Box.


     This word brings to mind the complex nature of the English language; and how very easy it is to misunderstand what is really being said, especially when words sound the same but mean very different things.

     I’m thinking back to my uncle Jack’s funeral. We gathered afterward at the Royal Canadian Legion in Westport, just up the hill from where the service had taken place.  Some of us were standing together talking about what would be happening next, and at one point someone said “Well, we’re all going to go to Newboro.”  Then we went on to discuss the details of how people would get to the little town some 9 or 10 kilometres away, where my uncles’ home had been.

     One of the little kids, my cousin Helen’s three-year old son, Brett, was sort of rambling around peoples’ legs, cat-like.  I noticed he seemed to be trying to figure something out, but there was so much happening, I really had no clue what it might specifically be.

     Then, Brett finally asks his uncle: “What’s a burrow?

     Just about everyone in our immediate circle who has heard the question starts throwing in their interpretation – anxious to clear up this question and give Brett the most complete picture of what a burrow is.

     Brett, however, is looking very confused, as he hears these adults telling him, in very excited and graphic tones, that a burrow is a hole in the ground – you know – where

bunnies and groundhogs and other little animals like that make their home.

     Some of the adults accompany their verbal description with physical actions an animal might make – scurrying around, diving into its home.

     And Brett stands; mystified.  I watch, in silence, as the whole thing plays out.  It is clear that the adults are delighted with their charades, and Brett, while seeming to be amused by their antics and attention, remains confused.

     Finally it all clicks, and I share this with the others – “he’s trying to understand where we’re going, and what to expect next.  He wants to know what a ‘burrow’ is because he’s heard us saying that we’re going to Newboro after this.”

     Immediately, an uproar of laughter began.  It was as if an aperture had opened and everyone ‘got’ it - including little Brett, who had finally received the explanation he was really looking for!

     And we adults laughed and laughed, imagining him imagining us all diving down into some little hole in the ground – in our suits and ties and dresses…and wondering about the bunnies we might meet up with!


                                                   By J.P. Rayne


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