Time runs a little slower in the bayou and the folks there ain't in any rush to get things done. Well, most folks, that is. Seems that a particular rabbit was always on the lookout for a speedy way to fill his stomach with someone else's hard-earned supper. In the Bayou Lafourche, sits a tumble-down old shack. This here ain’t no ordinary shack. No siree! This here is the home of Granny Guadalupe. Being who they are, critters find it mighty hard to say her name so they call her Granny Glup. Granny is a kindly woman who loves spinning yarns and plucking tunes on her daddy's banjo. Although she lives alone, Granny ain’t lonely. All the critters come to call because granny has the gift of speaking with the animals. Folks call her a witch, but if truth be told, Granny has gotten her hearing from a wise old woman who learned it from a cunning man before her. Granny said, when she was a young'en, she befriended a deep woods medicine woman, and after a time helping with chores, the woman bestowed the gift of hearing on her as thanks. Since that time, critters seem to be drawn to her. They even help by bringing wild berries, nuts, ginseng root, and an occasional fish or crawdad. A few years ago, a lost puppy found its way to her home; later, a kitten joined the family. Together, they spend their days tending a small garden and checking her crawdad traps in the bayou. Towards nightfall, Granny sits in her rocker, pours herself a cup of strengthener, picks up her daddy's banjo, and begins to weave a magical tune. This signaled to the bayou critters that it was “tellin’ time,” and they best hightail it over to the shed or miss out on the yarn swapping. Swapping happened before Granny's tale when local animals shared the latest gossip around the bayou. After putting down the banjo, Granny began her tale of some unfortunate critter that, despite all odds, would defeat the villain and live happily ever after or some such thing. Now pull up a stump and listen as granny spins a yarn about a no-good thiev'en rabbit and a kindly old tree snake.
Tyree was a mean, lying, and thievin’ rabbit. T'weren't nobody liked him. Grandma Possum said he was born under a bad moon. When she rolled the bones, it was foretold that his life would be filled with darkness unless he changed his ways.
His trickery was known throughout the parish. Folks still talk about how he tricked Farmer Fitzgibbons out of a bushel of greens by swapping it for a stolen piglet.
When the law confronted Tyree about the theft, he said he found the critter wandering and, thinkin’ it belonged to no one, exchanged it for some greens.
The pig's owner couldn't tell if it t'weren't so, as the piglet had been known to wander off but always returned in the evening.
Yes, siree! Tyree was a slick one. When asked for the greens back, he said they were gone, seeing he had no reason to believe they t’weren't his to eat.
The sheriff just threw up his hands, saying the rabbit made sense. Tyree chuckled and gave the farmer a wry smile as he left.
It t’wasn't long before Tyree was up to his ears in trouble. This time, he was caught with a basket full of carrots.
The sheriff asked if folks were missing any carrots, but all the vegetables were accounted for. Tyree told the sheriff he had found a patch of wild carrots, which were rightly his.
Sometime later, folks noticed some of the carrot tops died, which is natural, t'weren't ‘til they pulled up the leaves that they discovered the bottoms were gone. Some blamed gophers, but others suspected that no good thiev'en rabbit.
One afternoon, when the bayou was particularly hot, Tyree wandered down to the river's edge to splash cool water on his fur.
Floating in the shadows was the alligator, Brewster. Spying the rabbit, he decided it was time for a tasty snack. Wait'en ‘til Tyree was grooming hisself and his attention was distracted, the gator slid quietly within a foot of the rabbit. Brewster opened his jaws wide and gave his tail a mighty swish, lunging hisself forward when the rabbit's back was turned toward the water.
Catching sight of the gator, Tyree shot straight up in the air. The gator knew rabbits couldn't fly so he waited for dinner to drop into his jaws. Both were surprised when Tyree remained suspended in midair.
Looking up, the rabbit saw what kept him from being the gator's lunch. Samuel, the snake, had latched hold of him and now greeted his gaze with a broad smile.
"Well, I done gone from the fire to the fryin’ pan," said Tyree.
Seeing the state of affairs, the gator angrily slapped his tail and swam back into the tree shadows.
Samuel coiled up the rabbit and lifted him onto a Cypress tree branch. The reptile set Tyree firmly on a broad limb, releasing him, much to his shock.
"I've been eyeing you lately, Tyree," said Samuel with a sparkle in his eye.
"Well, that is mighty kind of you, but it ain't necessary. I would thank you if you'd set me down on the ground. I have a fear of heights," replied the rabbit.
After an uncomfortable silence, Samuel spoke. "Funny, I seem to remember seeing you dangling from Mrs. Smith's clothesline as you snuck into her garden for carrots. Then there was the time you catapulted over Ficus, the dog, to reach the paw-paw tree."
Tyree's jaw fell slack for he had no quick comeback to Samuel's observations.
"I brought you up here to tell you that your time is up," said the snake.
"Well, this is it. First the monologue, then the end," said Tyree.
Seeing the rabbit's expression, Samuel smiled and said with a chuckle, "No, I'm not going to eat ya; however, there are those lookin’ to nail your hide to their back door."
Tyree went from a feeling of doom to one of total confusion. "So, you're here to correct my ways and not eat me?" asked the rabbit.
"Not exactly. Changin’ your ways is up to you. I'm here to tell you what is in store for you if you don't," said Samuel. The snake related that the bayou folk had gotten together and banished him from the swamp.
"Banishment is sure death for any bayou critter," said the rabbit solemnly.
"Up to you, Tyree. If’n you're willing to change your ways, I believe folks might just change their minds," said Samuel.
The snake set Tyree back on the ground and disappeared into the tree's canopy.
"Banishment," said the rabbit over and over as he ambled back to his dugout home. T'weren't nobody saw Tyree for over a week, and folks began to think he done skedaddled, so they couldn't banish him.
Then, early one morning, Mrs. Smith was startled by the sight of Tyree in her garden with a hoe clearing weeds. She opened her mouth, but no words came out as she observed him weed two rows of carrots and a row of beans. When he finished, the rabbit cleared away the weeds and placed the hoe back in the shed. Then, quickly, he slipped under the gate and vanished into the woods.
Within a week, talk flew around how gardens was mysteriously hoed, chicken houses bedded with fresh straw, and baskets of wild blackberries left on back steps.
Finally, the time came for the annual harvest dance and dinner down at the meetin’ hall. All were in attendance and enjoying Mr. Clark's fine apple cider when Tyree came in pullin’ a small cart loaded with wild paw-paw and hedgerow blackberries.
After leaving the goods on the collection table, Tyree silently took the cart handle and headed fer the woods.
T'was Ms. Smith who spoke first, "Excuse me, Tyree. Mightn’ you be thirsty for a tall glass of cider? It's very refreshin’ in this here heat."
In a gentle voice, Tyree turned and replied, "Well, that would be mighty fine and I thank you kindly for the offer, ma'am."
Later, as Tyree sat by himself, Samuel popped up next to him. "Tyree, the Bayou wouldn't be the same without our trickster to gossip about," said the snake and then gave the rabbit a wink and slipped away.
Now I don't want you to go thinkin’ Tyree was changed into an angel; no siree! Things still went miss'en and more than once, people spoke unkind words about that rabbit. Still, as Samuel had said, the bayou wouldn't be the same without a bit o’ mischief now and then.