The Rabbit Story that charmed Sally Little
Sally and Kathy looked at me from across the restaurant table. They were waiting on me to convince them that I could retell Sally Little’s life story the way it should be told. For dramatic effect, I leaned in ever so slightly and shared with them a Native American fable I had read somewhere. It goes like this:
In the beginning the earth was dark because no one had fire. The only ones who had fire were the Sky People who refused to share with others. The creatures of earth gathered to find a solution. Rabbit volunteered to steal fire from the Sky People.
He made a headdress of feathers and pine resin and went off to see the Sky People. They were initially suspicious but when he said that he came to bring them a new dance as a gift, they let him in. He danced around their sacred fire urging them to imitate his movements. He stomped his feet and dipped his head low. The Sky People followed. Sneakily, he dipped his headdress into the fire and then fled with his prize.
The Sky People gave chase, as rabbit ran down to earth. As it was difficult to hold onto fire, a relay ensued. First rabbit handed the fire to squirrel. His tail caught alight and is curved to this day. Squirrel then gave the fire to crow, the smoke turned his snow white feathers to a midnight black. Crow then gave it raccoon, who had mattered black spots sprayed across his body because of the fire. This is why raccoon is black and white today. From raccoon it went to turkey whose head and neck burned and then to deer who lost his tail in the pursuit. This is exactly what turkey and deer look like till today. Finally, when there were no more animals left, the forest hid the fire for all eternity. Today, if you need fire, you only have to rub two sticks together and the hidden fire will once more emerge.
When I was done, I looked at Sally and Kathy. They were smiling but their eyes were blurred by tears. I had hit the right note. My borrowed story had all the drama and intrigue that ensured its longevity. It also resonated so well with Sally Little. Besides, her surname Little lends itself so poetically to the rabbit story. In many ways, she is the daring rabbit that entered this largely, white and male dominated sport called golf. After all, isn’t golf sometimes referred to as Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden?
I did not realise it at the time, but I would return a good few times to this very area in Cape Town to interview Sally for the many stories that made her life so very interesting.
Article written by Adli Jacobs: Author of Capturing the Fire ‘Sally Little’