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the Sunbeam Bunny
Where are all the Bees?
Beatrice is a much loved, dirty, saggy toy rabbit. She sit’s
on the windowsill overlooking the countryside.
As the sun rises in the sky, she waits patiently for the first sunbeam’s touch as it slowly moves across the windowsill.
The sunbeam transforms her into a bright furry yellow bunny, full of energy and life. She rushes into the garden where, together with Thumps, a hare that lives in the hedges, she learns the effects and importance of bees in our gardens. She shows the preciousness of water, what litter does to our countryside and how beautiful our gardens, countrysides and creatures are.
She is Beatrice, the Sunbeam Bunny.
I am Moraig de Witt, born just outside Durban South Africa, moved to Cape Town and now I live with my husband, two dogs and a European brown hare in Normandy France. We currently live and work on the grounds of a Chateau in Normandy where my husband holds the position of Estate Manager and I work with
him on a part time basis.
I am part of the Pastellistes de France
and am an internationally sold portrait and wildlife artist.
While in SA, I spent many years in the retail sector of Natural and Alternative medicine and while working here at the chateau, I continued my studies and now hold Diplomas with the School of Natural Health Sciences (S.N.H.S) and is Accredited with the International College of Holistic (I.C.H.M)
LMy Qualifications as a Therapist include:
Aromatherapy, Ayurvedic Indian Head Massage, Ayurvedic Facial Rejuvenation, Holistic Massage, Hot and Cold Stone Therapy, Advanced Reflexology and Acupressure.
These qualifications help add to the relaxation and
welfare of tourists who come to stay at the chateau. My husband and I cater for clients, cooking and serving meals based on the local foods and whatever the market has to offer. After a few disasters, I’ve managed to hold my own in the patisserie department and developing the french art of pastry making has been a wonderfully delicious learning curve…often a steep one.
The Story Behind the Story
During our years here, we’ve tried to keep our footprint on the nature around us as small as possible, sharing the fields and flowers with the creatures, both small and large, that were here before us. But there have been many occasions where we’ve had to ‘interfere’ slightly and come to the rescue of some small critter that’s been in trouble such as a half drowned salamander floating in the swimming pool, a sleepy dormouse in
the thatched roof that was disturbed by workmen, a
lost swarm of bees that descended the chateau chimney and found a home in the Salon curtains, a Swift that lost it’s way for a few days or a tiny bat, found cold and shivering behind the gusty shutters. We’ve helped as best we could and released them back to the countryside.
But one small furry and very helpless person couldn’t
be released that easily. My husband found this tiny European brown hare in the path of a giant tractor out cutting the grass in the nearby fields. He took note of it’s position and left it there, returning a while later. The tiny bundle was still there, barely moving in the cold evening. He picked it up and brought it to me where
we weighed it and checked it for injuries.
It weighed 80 grams, was very thin, very feeble and weak. Whether it proved to be a good thing or not, out little female hooligan of a dog fell in love with it, licked it clean, checked it over and kept it warm. It spent it’s days in my pocket where I fed it with goat’s milk every hour. We were told it’s chances of survival were slim, it was probably the runt of the litter as it was so small and we were to expect the worst. But surprisingly, Thumps grew stronger by the day, and before long, he was following the dogs around and cornering the space under the bed as his own.
We knew then that Thumps was here to stay – he had no fear of the dogs and the idea of him meeting a fox or hunter in the forests was a bit more than we could handle so we bought him a 60 x 60 tray which we lined with straw, researched all that he would eat, learned to forage for him and understood that even though he lived with us, he would always be a wild, fragile and wary visitor in our home.
But, he and I have an understanding that has surpassed my idea of what living with this wild creature would be. He has taught me so much, invited me into his world, opened his little heart enough to allow me to kiss him and he nudges my hand or cheek in returned affection. He responds to my voice, is reassured when he hears me and allows me to coax him out of any panic or fear as he follows me when I call.
He is fully house trained, still drinks milk once a day, he has good ‘hare’ days and bad ‘hare’ days. Sometimes he wakes up in a mood, sometimes he is more affectionate and brave. He has the run of the house, and has he’s nocturnal, we leave the doggie door open for him and he is free to go out to the secure garden and gaze at the full moon which he seems to enjoy. He loves a good shower of rain and curling up in front of the fire on a winters evening is also part of his routine.
He’s just turned two – he is part of our lives, part of my heart and part of Beatrice the Sunbeam Bunny’s world – as Elizabeth Goudge said of Serena the Hare in her book ‘The Little White Horse’ :
“But a hare, now, that is a different thing altogether. A hare is not a pet but a person. Hares are clever and brave and loving, and they have fairy blood in them. It’s a grand thing to have a hare for a friend.” (Goudge 1946 p85).
Illustrations & Artwork
I wanted to illustrate Children’s books when I left school (seems ages ago) but back then, the only place I could go to learn would have been the UK – a long way from Sunny South Africa and my mother nearly had a fit at the idea of letting me lose into the big wide world on my own. I learned how to restore antique porcelain instead and eventually drifted into web design – something totally alien an illogical to my left handed brain so I tried to keep painting and drawing just enough to exhibit at local art fairs and I ended up selling my art on a fairly regular basis.
I was commissioned for a few children’s portraits and then some work for the Education Department in Cape Town illustrating Biology Textbooks and Early Learner’s Reading Books.
When I finally got a contract to Publish Beatrice the Sunbeam Bunny and was asked if there were any more stories to come (which there are) I jumped at the chance to illustrate my very own book…and then I realised that I was behind the times and that it would probably be a good idea to join forces – my traditional art medium of pastels and colour pencils with the skills I had developed as a web designer and computer graphics – and so I bought a large graphic drawing tablet, upgraded to Painter 2019 and the rest is history… I entered the digital world of paints and colours and Beatrice and all her friends slowly came to life.
Thumps at Home
Thumps is a very content little man who lives with us. We don’t ‘own’ him, he’s not a pet and we’ve learned to respect his moods (of which he has many), cater to his eating needs according to the changing seasons and respect his space and territory he’s claimed for himself around the house.
He’s scrupulously clean, totally house trained, enjoys a refreshing shower in the rain as well as time out to lie by the fire. During the day, he can be found in his ‘cave’ under the bed surrounded by a folded blanket and pillow to enclose his safe retreat or in the Summer, he doses under a bush in the dappled shade.
His nocturnal habits allow him to come in and out of the house and enclosed garden as he pleases, stomping up the stairs, loudly munching on apple and occasionally leaping across us over the bed as he carries out his nocturnal exercises of charging around the house and garden.
He is timidly curious, hates changes such as moved furniture of things out of place, shakes his head if he doesn’t like something such as the introduction of a new leaf or plant to taste, doesn’t seem to care about the dogs at all, is fiercely territorial of his eating tray and will box anyone or anything that interferes with his food and will suddenly and effortlessly perform the most beautiful ballet dance that I can watch for hours, pirouetting, leaping, twirling, running and skipping as he twists and charges around the garden before skidding to a halt to receive a kiss on his nose.
please feel free to contact me (or Beatrice) and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.