Monday, April 02, 2007

A Desert Cottontail

We had a neighborhood rabbit–a desert cottontail to be exact. She would trot through the hillside planter in the morning or graze the driveway grass in the evening.

Sometimes we went days without seeing her and I would worry that one of the hawks or owls had caught her. A lone rabbit only has two eyes and two ears to watch out for danger.

I wondered how she came to be in our neighborhood. We are adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains, but several lanes of houses barricade us from the majority of the mountain residents. We do not have deer, quail were a first time excitement this September after 14 years. The coyotes, however, do frequent the streets even though we are only two short blocks from one of the San Fernando Valley’s busiest boulevards.

When the rabbit first appeared about two years ago, it was small–a youngster. It grew up wandering between several houses. It must have been crossing the street, but it seemed to have found a way to do so safely.

Unfortunately, a neighbor just came pounding on my door. His dogs had caught the bunny in his backyard. Could I come and see if anything could be done? I rushed over with him.

There was my morning friend laying quietly on her side. I felt for a heart beat. There was none. The soft fur was still warm with her last breath. Life was easing away. I stroked her gently and hoped her passing was quick.

For a wild rabbit she had lived an unusual life, solitary, virginal and fairly long. She had avoided predators and suitors. She was healthy and loved by the humans who’s homes she visited. Did she eat my garden lettuce to the ground? Yes. But there were a few fancy greens she didn’t like and therefore left those for us. She also hopped casually between the ferns and made the yard a calmer more beautiful place.

One small wild rabbit has returned to the Earth and for many of us there is a small empty place in the world.

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