Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Rabbit's Tale

At 3:30 a.m. Dog #2 just had to go out. He insisted. Glancing out the front door, I saw five of our local bunnies in close proximity to the house, munching the birdseed left from yesterday. ‘Should be safe,’ I’m thinking. Sure enough, five of them are more than a match for one bird-brained dog—they scattered in too many directions for him. Though he tried valiantly, first this way, then that, all of them made it to safety.

Sixteen delightful degrees this a.m., after several days hovering near zero. But the wind… even the rabbits are ducking the wind this morning. One was on the back porch, huddled against the house just inches from the sliding glass door. Thank goodness the dogs didn’t see him! The fact that they can’t shred the door, even in tremors of excitement from bunny-sightings ten feet away, doesn’t keep them from trying! I missed him, but captured this one, hunkered down in the lee of my car with his ears tucked close, not far from the east door. Gandalf is intent on another one, munching leaves just outside that same door.

I’ve mentioned their love of birdseed before, but I haven’t remarked on the fact that, these days, bunnies are everywhere! It wasn’t always so. Trying to pin it down, I’m guessing it was the mid-1990s when we first started seeing rabbits in the neighborhood. There must be a complex, or at least interesting, ecological process going on, and I’m only starting to ask the questions. Why are they here, why are there so many of them? What are they doing to local ecology, and why aren’t the coyotes eating more of them?

Unlike other warm-blooded menu items at the bottom of food chains, bunnies are cute. People, myself included, tolerate them, even love them. We care that they make it to safety; we shudder when the Dog comes out ahead. But I’ve also traveled in circles where bunnies are derogatorily considered as ‘fuzz-butts’ or ‘fur-balls.’ Their ubiquity is starting to shift my perspective toward the latter. Something is out of whack. Stay tuned...

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