The lesson a rabbit taught me

August 11, 2008

For about three weeks, I’ve been finding little holes all over my garden and lawn. The culprit has been a local rabbit. It may have been a rabbit gang, but on only one occasion have I seen more than one rabbit in my yard so I’m inclined to think it’s the work of a lone bunny.

Aligned to the clock, the rabbit appears at dusk and dawn and creeps closer to my flowerbed. The back yard isn’t huge, so the journey for the rabbit only takes a short while. But the path is littered with danger.

The neighbor’s dogs bark and frighten the little bunny.

Birds swoop onto the lawn to peck at seeds, but I’m sure the rabbit is aware that a hawk could be on the same flight path.

And an insolent man in his 40s sometimes torments the little creature.

Yes. I admit wrongdoing. The other day I saw the bunny about 60 feet from my porch. He was watching the slider with one eye while he nibbled and fussed at the base of a pine tree.

I stepped out onto the deck and the rabbit froze for a second. I assume he looked at my girth and calculated how slow I’d be over 20 yards and then kept on nibbling.

I crept down the stairs and paused at the bottom. The cement step underfoot was a perfect launching pad for my chase. I began to crouch.

Springing forward, I closed the gap to 10 yards before the bunny responded and that’s where things went awry.

In the same way a centerfielder or free safety will use an angle to cut off a line drive or wide receiver – respectively – I angled my attack toward the bunny’s home. Wrong move.

In an instant, the rabbit took three massive hops and was upon me, gnawing at my neck…wait a minute. That’s not right.

In an instant, the rabbit took three massive hops and vanished into the woods on the left of the yard. My angle had cut off his homeward retreat and I’m guessing that the amount of time it took the creature to respond wasn’t because he was slow. I think it was because he knew how absolutely glue-like I was and carefully calculated the best way to humiliate me and then proceed on the safest route out of danger.

The reality of my slow feet and poor capturing skills are just the tip of an iceberg of disappointment. Had I caught the bunny, I don’t know what I would have done with it. But now that I’ve missed it once, it no longer visits my yard.

I wander to the back deck and look for him (or her) every morning and evening. But the bunny isn’t there.

Braving mosquitoes and looking like a homeless man in my tattered nightshirt, I stand in the approaching darkness angry at myself. I realize that my dash to get close to the bunny has put me even farther away. And I should have been happy with the visions I once had from the kitchen window – safely behind the slider.

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