Where Does The Hare Go

 

Ellie S. Thomas   
 

Copyright 2022 by  Ellie S. Thomas

 
 

Photo by Georgiana Simon on Unsplash
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

There were three small rabbits living next door and we wanted to see them. No one knew how they got there or where the mother was but these little fellows were making it all on their own.

They were underneath an old shed which was derelict and splintery. In earlier times there had been a farmhouse, a milkhouse, a couple other buildings; maybe a cattle barn and a chicken coup- the traditional country things but all gone now. Nothing left but the rotting bones of the old structure which our bunnies had decided to call home. It would be a battle for them to hang on to it.

Many people don't like to have rabbits around. It is said that you will never have a garden, nor flowers, if there is a rabbit but these little guys stayed in their own territory, they seldom bothered us. I DID see one now and again and he WAS in my flower garden but I was amazed as I watched.

Bunny #1, (surely we would have to name them,) came to visit and he went behind a small fence that supposedly guarded the flowers. As I watched, he slipped back and forth along the edge of marigolds, eating and munching away on the spent stalk of dandelions. They must have been very good because he made them look appetizing as he gathered them in. He was an epicure of the most fastidious sort as he clipped off a dandelion and ushered it into his mouth, cut end first. He ate along the stem and it travelled into his mouth and down his throat, like someone putting a log into a chute. Gosh he was cute!

This little guy ate his fill and before long, he was joined by bunny #2. Now, if they had been vandals as we'd been warned, this could have spelled disaster but no- they did not touch a flower! But they sure made a dent in the dandelions! Perhaps we had discovered something! What a boon to mankind if we could develop weed eating rabbits!

We began watching and enjoying these playful little fellows each evening and before long they became more comfortable around us. Soon they were hiding beneath our front porch after a dinner of grasses and weeds. We could hear them thumping and making themselves comfortable but one terrible night, after bunnies one and two went out to play in the soft night air, the neighbor's cat came over to investigate. It went beneath the floor and soon we heard a despairing cry and never saw bunny #3 again...and, of course, the first two siblings refused to use that shelter again.

Much later that summer we observed a fair-sized rabbit come out of the brush. He was strikingly mottled, like a woodcock, or a grouse. There were varying shades of white, and light tan overlaid with darker brown and streaks of black. The back of his head was a fulvous color with a black patch between his ears like a tiny skullcap. Now and again he'd lift his tail and the white underside would show.

He munched his way along a dandelion that he'd neatly clipped off at ground level and the ball of seeds fell to the ground. He clipped off another one and another until a sudden fright sent him scurrying a few feet to one side and then the other.

When he faced me, I could see a delicate white border around the leading edge of his ears, a white circle around each eye. Above each eye, there was an additional dark line like one long, dark eyebrow. He munched methodically away, bobbing his head and flicking his ears as if something, mosquitoes probably, were driving him crazy.

Occasionally he'd paw in the sand with his short forepaws, then he'd stretch out in it, long legs trailing behind, then with a quick twist he'd be rolling his back in it, dangling feet waving in the air.

His feet were long and fawn colored over the top with a snowy underside. The chest, belly, and inner thighs were white also and fluffy looking. Some evenings he was joined by numero dos, or 2, and they'd emerge as the shadows lengthed, keeping to the murky edges until the daylight waned. They browsed until one met the other head on and then a game of leap frog ensued. They met almost nose-to-nose and then one seemed impelled to leap at the other like a foot boxer. They flippped end for end and a mad chase began about the perimeter of the lawn. They stopped as suddenly as they'd started and resumed feeding again. They were a joy to watch as they ate thoughtfully and seriously until another mad impulse seized them and sent them to dancing again.

Of course, our dog was interested in whatever seemed so interesting in the yard and he began watching with us. In the beginning, we were worried what might happen if he got outside while they were there but we worried in vain because it DID happen.

Before long we were watching a new game but this time it was between species; an unlikely thing!(#1), Numero Uno had grown more than I'd realized,)and she/he and Numero Dos, (#2) had turned into big, buck rabbits and they seemed confident enough to go hopping about the yard. This was generally a no-no and our dog Charlie took it upon himself to correct this procedure; however, what we figured would turn into mayhem soon became the funniest game in town!

Charlie adopted a stalking posture and begun to sneak up on Numero Dos. Closer and closer he crept, most likely thinking himself the greatest hunter on earth. The rabbit feigned ignorance; for all he was concerned, there wasn't a dog in miles- but we could tell by the way he kept flicking his ears and wiggling his nose that he knew all about it.

When Charlie considered he was near enough, he lunged. The rabbit became air-bourne and easily maintained several feet of distance ahead of the dog. They circled the yard, around and around, Charlie barking excitedly while the rabbit flaunted his heels in the dog's face. They couldn't maintain such a pace for very long, so both sank to the ground. They rested for several minutes, as if by agreement, and then began their mad circling again. They circled and rested, and circled and rested until both tired of the game and the rabbit ran under the tool shed. We never figured out if they ran relays and which rabbit we were seeing each time but they surely wore Charlie out- After a short time, Charlie gave one sassy bark in their direction and then he crawled in the shade of the lilac bush. Night after night we watched the two, or three, (how do you count rabbits?) now-friends play and they seemed to have a wonderful time.

It became obvious to me that there is a line drawn in the sand,or somewhere that animals are familiar with and it tells them when and where it is okay to cross over. There are times when they will pursue one of a different species with a desire to kill, or at least it looks like a desire to kill but could it be the chase is the thing until someone gets carried away? Or could a killing be a bad, unintentioned accident? There are many variables but I have seen too many birds, rabbits, cats, etc. killed but not eaten that I wonder what that was all about? Our dog would find a body on the lawn and he would sniff at it, perhaps nudge it as if wondering what had happened, but we nver saw him eating on the corpse-

And conversely, one sees so many instances where a true friendship appears to have developed between dogs and deer, dogs, and birds, cats and bunnies or ducklings- if humans can enjoy the friendship of other species: horses, dogs, cats, and so on, why can't animals enjoy, or interact with one another?

The world is a wonderful place, and there is so much to wonder about. "There are more things in this world than are dreamed of"- and one must second that.


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