The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Shoosh… Be Very Quiet… I’m hunting rabbits…

with 4 comments

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunting for the elusive gravesite of a man called Gilman, one frigid afternoon spent within the 365 acres of First Calvary Cemetery proved the existence here of a race of burrowing things- mud caked groundlings with glowing red eyes.

Somewhere, nearby I would suspect, is a subterranean warren kept warm by the swarming masses of their hairless and blind progeny. Squirming, these sweaty holes dug into the frozen graveyard force the adults to brave the bright dangers of the surface world to forage.

from wikipedia:

The lagomorphs are the members of the taxonomic order Lagomorpha, of which there are two families, the Leporidae (hares and rabbits), and the Ochotonidae (pikas). The name of the order is derived from the Greek lagos (λαγος, “hare”) and morphē (μορφή, “form”).

Though these mammals can resemble rodents (order Rodentia), and were classified as a superfamily in that order until the early twentieth century, they have since been considered a separate order. For a time it was common to consider the lagomorphs only distant relatives of the rodents, to whom they merely bore a superficial resemblance.

The earliest fossil lagomorphs, such as Eurymylus, come from eastern Asia, and date to the late Paleocene or early Eocene. The leporids first appear in the late Eocene, and rapidly spread throughout the northern hemisphere; they show a trend towards increasingly long hind limbs as the modern leaping gait developed. The pikas appear somewhat later, in the Oligocene of eastern Asia.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Prey by nature, the foragers are fast and smart and alert. The gods of the sky, the claws of the stealth demons, the brutal agonies of the dog- all are found on the surface. Designed to eat the ruggose fibers of grass and seed, quickly and as much as possible in one go, they are swift and nervous. Fed on the morbid nutrition offered up by the loam of Calvary Cemetery, the glowing red eyes of these burrowers scan constantly for danger.

from wikipedia:

The rabbit lives in many areas around the world. Rabbits live in groups, and the best known species, the European rabbit lives in underground burrows, or rabbit holes. A group of burrows is called a warren. Meadows, woods, forests, thickets, and grasslands are areas in which rabbits live. They also inhabit deserts and wetlands. More than half the world’s rabbit population resides in North America. They also live in Europe, India, Sumatra, Japan, and parts of Africa. The European rabbit has been introduced to many places around the world.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Merely a part of some vast ecosystem occluded by the marble and sorrow, these burrowers are prized game for the higher mammals and avian predators which frequent the bulkheaded shorelines of the Newtown Creek. It is difficult, with modern eyes, to imagine the world of the unspoiled Creek.

Once, this was part of a rich swampy marshland, and abundant game and wildlife drew sportsmen from the great cities of Brooklyn and Manhattan for hunting and fishing to the rural extants of the Newtown Creek. Nearby, aboriginal tribes of Lenape (the Maspeatche) made their camps near Mt. Zion cemetery and when the europeans came- great hunting lodges and hotels were erected along its banks to service the tourist trade from the two island cities. That was before the industries, before the Rural Cemeteries Act, and before the 800 pound gorilla came to town.

from wikipedia:

Jugged Hare (known as civet de lièvre in France), is a whole hare, cut into pieces, marinated and cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water. It traditionally is served with the hare’s blood (or the blood is added right at the very end of the cooking process) and Port wine.

Jugged Hare is described in the influential 18th century cookbook, The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse, with a recipe titled, “A Jugged Hare,” that begins, “Cut it into little pieces, lard them here and there….” The recipe goes on to describe cooking the pieces of hare in water in a jug that it set within a bath of boiling water to cook for three hours. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Glasse has been widely credited with having started the recipe with the words “First, catch your hare,” as in this citation. This attribution is apocryphal.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator appreciates the irony that New York City’s nature preserves are entirely accidental. The nearby Ridgewood Reservoir, an eidelon of municipal malfeasance and neglect, has transformed into a significant bird sanctuary and houses a teeming ecosystem ranging from rodent to raptor. The cemeteries of Queens similarly house a niche ecology, providing a refuge for ghoulish reprobates and rabbit alike. Some effort has been made at finding a scientific sampling of biota at these locations, but if it exists, my meager skills at the art of detection have been unable to uncover such data.

for a third person perspective on how my encounter with this manifest avatar of the Lepus specie went, please click here- its pretty much the way that the whole thing “went down”.

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4 Responses

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  1. You probably thought you were being cute with that headline, but several years ago a former resident of Blissville told me that back in the 1940s he would hunt rabbits at Calvary on its slope down to Newtown Creek. He claimed to have seen “thousands of rabbits” there.

    Christina Wilkinson

    February 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

  2. Bugs Bunny, therefore, was wrong when he described himself as a “rodentus rabbitus”

    http://www.forgotten-ny.com

    Kevin Walsh

    February 4, 2010 at 10:18 am

  3. […] safest location in the Greater City if events unfold like the flower of some loathsome Lily, the Groundling Burrowers were consulted. It is whispered that is they who convey the messages of the living to the […]

  4. […] Disillusioned, desolate, and diseased- the endless byways of the Newtown Pentacle beckon- calling out to me- the barren, the confused, the discarded. […]


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