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Sunday, 25 November 2012

The hare and the hedgehog - a tale of Buxtehude!

We live about 5km from Buxtehude - our big smoke! There are around 40,000 inhabitants, the train station that takes to you Hamburg and several large supermarkets...just being practical.

It's also the location where one day, a very long time ago (about 1853), a hare and a hedgehog had a race.

Its mostly attributed to the Brothers Grimm but it may have been an older fable retold by them. In Germany many towns claim a fairy tale to be their own....ours is the hare and the hedgehog OR in German, Hase and Igel.

The "Buxtehudians" are very proud of their fairy tale and all over Buxtehude you can find little statues, signs or images representing the tale.

The tale goes like this.

It starts with some flowery prose describing the weather and surroundings. The hedgehog was standing by his front door admiring the beautiful day and given the nice weather decided to go and check on his turnips.

As the hedgehog started his stroll, he met the hare. The hare was a very arrogant chap and he was off to check on his cabbages. When the hare saw the hedgehog he asked sarcastically what the hedgehog was doing. The hedgehog replied he was out for a walk. The hare then commented "on those legs, I think you could better use your legs for other purposes". 

The hedgehog was quite offended by these words as he was quite self conscience about his short bent legs. He then asked the hare "Do you think you can accomplish more with your legs?"

The hare replied that of course he could do more. Then the hedgehog suggested a race to which the hare eagerly agreed given that they were to race for a bottle of brandy. But the hedgehog requested that he first return home for breakfast and they meet in half an hour. The race was set.

When the hedgehog returned home he urged his wife to get ready quickly. The actual words from the tale being:....

"My God, man," the hedgehog's wife began to cry, "are you mad? Have you entirely lost your mind? How can you agree to run a race with the hare?"

"Hold your mouth, woman," said the hedgehog. "This is my affair. Don't get mixed up in men's business. Hurry up now, get dressed, and come with me." 

What was the hedgehog's wife to do? She had to obey, whether she wanted to or not.

Off the hedgehogs went to the field and the hedgehog husband place his wife at one edge of the field in a farrow and gave the instructions that when she saw the hare coming she was to stand up and say "I'm already here!"

The hedgehog went to the other end of the field where the hare was waiting for him and on the count of 3 the race began. The hare sprinted off. The hedgehog ran a few steps then lowered himself into the farrow and waited. At the end of the field the hedgehog's wife stood up and announced "I'm already here".

The hare was shocked to see the hedgehog (not at all realising it was the wife) and suggested that they run back. He was off in a flash. At the other end the hare husband was waiting for him. In excitement and confusion the hare suggested another length. The hedgehog replied, lets run as many as you like.

So the hare then ran another 73 times before collapsing dead on his 74th length. The hedgehogs took home the bottle of bandy and lived happily ever after. And no hare challenged a hedgehog to a race again.

And now the lesson to be learned is this:

"First, that no one, however distinguished he thinks himself, should make fun of a lesser man, even if this man is a hedgehog. And second, when a man marries, it is recommended that he take a wife from his own class, one who looks just like him. In other words, a hedgehog should always take care that his wife is also a hedgehog, and so forth".

And that my friends is the tale of the Hase and Igel!

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