About two weeks ago, a rabbit showed up in my yard. It was early morning and I was drinking a cup of coffee, looking out the kitchen window when I caught sight of it. I didn’t have my glasses on so I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I just knew that that brown lump over by the fire pit hadn’t been there the day before and it did (I was pretty sure) seem to be moving. I very seldom see rabbits where I live and when I do, they are zipping across the road, toward the safety of some thick underbrush.
I turned away just for a moment to get my glasses and by the time I had them on my face and had turned back toward the window, it was gone.
The next morning it showed up again. I quickly grabbed my glasses and identified it as a rabbit. Stealthily, I made my way to the front door keeping a quiet as I could, stalking the small beast to get a better look. I made it out the front door and almost half way across the front lawn when it spied me. It looked up from its breakfast, gave me a good hard look and went back to eating. I walked closer. It ignored me. By this time I had given up my stealthy walk ( – take a step – stop – take another step – stop –) and took a few normally gaited steps. I got within about 5 feet of it when it ran.
Any normal rabbit would have darted into the woods or under the perennials. Heck, any normal rabbit would have been gone when it first caught sight of me sneaking out the front door. This rabbit ran out into the middle of the lawn, just out of my reach and started eating again.
That evening, I decided that I should catch the rabbit. I have a large garden filled with delicious temptations for the local herbivores so I consider them all rivals including the deer that want to eat the tender leaves of my growing fruit trees, the porcupines that munch on my raspberry canes, the voles that dig in my beds and chew on my carrots and now this new intruder – the rabbit. I enlisted the help of my son, a resourceful teenager, and we set out to catch the rabbit.
Rabbits aren’t all that bright; we had one as a pet a few years ago and though they can be nauseatingly cute, ours spent a good deal of energy in amorous activity with a red nerf ball. What they are is fast. We tried cornering it, trapping it in a cardboard box, throwing a sheet over it and when we got desperate, trapping it under a rake. It always let us get within 2 or 3 feet and then would scoot out just far enough ahead of us to keep us chasing it. The closest we got was about an hour into the chase when, exhausted, it lay down in the shade panting. We tried to chase it down but finally gave in to our own hunger and left it alone.
This weekend, I worked in the garden. The rabbit ate right beside me. It always stayed out of reach but close enough so it was enjoyable company. If I moved toward it, it moved away. If I moved away, it came with me, keeping a safe but congenial distance. It seemed to be eating the weeds but that could have been the result of the cognitive dissonance that I was apparently creating as the fuzzy little brown creature looked up at me with its soft brown eyes.
Last night my son and I started thinking up names for it. That was after we discussed borrowing a gun.
Relationships are tricky things. If you are hungry, anything that competes with you for food is a rival. The same goes with water or warmth or safety and I suppose on a less fundamental level, comfort, peace and happiness. We choose our relationships by making sure our basic needs are met and that our quality of life isn’t compromised and rather is enhanced.
And then sometimes, we just need a little company in the garden.