Donna DeSoto has found little silver skulls to sew on the bottom of the latest quilt she created. Now she’s looking for tiny hatchets, though she admits, “I don’t know if these little quilter ladies are ready for me to be that graphic.”
But how else to convey accurately the Legend of the Bunny Man, the hatchet-wielding, bunny suit-wearing psychopath said to haunt Fairfax County, Va.?
Donna made the quilt as part of a challenge issued by Quilters Unlimited, a group she belongs to. Members were asked to create quilts on the theme of “Virginia’s beautiful waters.”
“People are doing lovely quilts of the Chesapeake and quilts of various rivers and other bodies of water,” Donna said. She was inspired by the streams and brooks in the woods around Clifton.
“You can’t depict the woods in Clifton without thinking about the Bunny Man Bridge,” Donna said. That railroad bridge, over Colchester Road, is said to be haunted by the aforementioned Bunny Man. Generations of Northern Virginia teenagers have gone to the bridge hoping to drink beer and see the Bunny Man. Typically, only one of these things happens.
A man in a bunny suit actually did terrorize couples in parked cars in 1970. In 2014, a local band, the Mantua Finials, released a concept album, inspired by those incidents, about the urban legend. I think Donna’s quilt is probably the first devoted to it.
“It just had to be done,” said Donna, a retiree who lives in Fairfax. Her quilt — “Eek From the Creek: Encounter With Clifton’s Bunnyman” — features a border of swirling, watery fabric. Diagonal green lines criss-cross the center using what quilters call the string piercing technique. In the foreground, walking toward the distinctive bridge, is the malevolent Bunny Man. Donna adapted the hulking figure from a Big Foot quilt pattern she picked up. (Who even knew they sold Big Foot quilt patterns?)
“When you go to that bridge, you just get goosebumps,” said Donna, who was introduced to the spot while a student at Robinson High in the 1970s. “There’s just something there, some kind of a feeling.”
Donna’s quilt will be among those on display at the Quilters Unlimited show at the Dulles Expo Center in June. (Visit quiltersunlimited.org for info.)
Would Donna ever sleep under a Bunny Man quilt?
“No,” she said,“not me.”
The rabbit may be the spawn of the devil, but you know what animal everyone loves? The squirrel.
Okay, I know that’s not true. Squirrels are as polarizing as Donald Trump. And they are just as worthy of close scrutiny. Which is why my annual Squirrel Week was born.
The sixth annual Squirrel Week begins April 10. I’m once again sponsoring The Washington Post Squirrel Week Photo Contest. Take some beautiful pictures of cute squirrels and send them my way. I’ll pick my favorites, the best of which will earn a $100 gift card to a retailer to be named later. Other entries will be displayed online.
E-mail your entries to me — as a .jpeg attachment no larger than 5MB, with your name and contact details — at squirrelphotos@
washpost.com. The deadline for entries is March 31. For complete contest rules, visit wapo.st/squirrelcontestrules.
I’m also curious what questions you have about squirrels. Are there things you’ve always wondered about the little critters? Send them to email@example.com, with “Squirrel query” in the subject line — and I’ll consult my vast Rolodex of squirrel experts.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.