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Rabbit Lessons

by Ferida Wolff

 
Shortly before six, I go into my kitchen to prepare dinner. We eat fairly much the same time each night. Our bodies are attuned to being hungry on a schedule. As I wash my hands at the kitchen sink, I glance out the window to see if the usual passel of squirrels is scavenging and to check if the finches are feeding. Our dinnertime seems to be their time to deplete the black oil sunflower seeds we provide for them, an expense my husband complains about but doesn’t really seem to mind. Maybe I’ll be surprised by the yellow-shafted flicker I saw only once but have been on the lookout for ever since or perhaps the red-winged blackbird will make an unscheduled appearance.

As soon as I look outside, I know that dinner will be late. Today there are rabbits. Two of them, no three. Three beautiful rabbits at the base of the bird feeders chowing down on the crumbled end of a loaf of bread I had moments ago scattered. It must be a family: two parents and a teenager.

Of all the creatures that inhabit my backyard, I am most fond of rabbits. Over the years I have learned a lot from them. They have taught me about the value of being still and listening to what is going on around you rather than running about blindly before you assess a situation. They have shown me the beauty in just being yourself. And they have helped me to understand about the commonality of life. Pretty heady stuff for such tiny professors.

One of the adult rabbits leans over to nuzzle the younger one. Is it the mama? I know some human men who would do that with their children though more often it is the mother who is the open nurturer. My son would disagree. He is an unabashed nurturer as are two of my nephews. If they were present, we would all be crowded at my sink peeking out the kitchen window, dying from cute. But I don’t know about rabbit relations. Wild nature has more structured interactions, I think.

I begin gathering ingredients for dinner for the people in the house but make the mistake of looking back out the window. Another rabbit, another teen, has joined the group. The organic, red-leaf lettuce I am holding would taste just fine to the outside family and I am willing to share but I don’t want to scare them off by opening the back door. I’ll save some to put out the next night. Besides, they seem to be enjoying exactly what they are eating.

Once again, I am about to turn away and get on with the business of cooking when a fifth rabbit hops up to the feast. This one is a baby, smaller than the squirrels milling around impatiently waiting for the lapins to leave. It can fit in the palm of my hand. I watch its tiny mouth try to engulf one of the larger crumbs. The bread is too big and keeps dropping. The rabbit keeps trying. I am rooting for it.

“Go little rabbit,” I say through the glass between us, encouraging it the way I would my own child who was attempting a difficult task. “You can do it.”

The rabbit swivels its ears toward the sound. I don’t think it can hear me but maybe it can sense my positive intentions for it. It finally succeeds in biting off an edge. It tucks its cottonball of a tail underneath and sits contentedly chewing. I am contented, too, watching this exquisite little expression of Mother Nature.

But now I absolutely must prepare dinner. I hurriedly reach for the skillet. I was going to make a more elaborate meal but I have spent so much time rapt in rabbit suppertime, the human dinner will have to reflect a simpler plan. A mélange of thinly sliced cheese, medallions of zucchini and sautéed rice in a delicate tomato and wine sauce enhanced with pine nuts and roasted red peppers. In reality, it is a meal-in-a-pan. I feel a little guilty at the menu comedown.

My husband notices the time on the clock when he comes in. I point to the window. He looks out and nods.

“Ahh, slop,” he says when I place the revised creation before him. “My favorite.”

I laugh and I kiss him on the forehead. It echoes Mr./Ms. Rabbit’s affection for the rabbit child. I don’t know what prompted that demonstration but I know what triggers mine. I feel a welling up of love for this man in my life who understands about rabbits without my having to tell him.

I sneak a last peek out the window before sitting down to my own plate. Having eaten their fill, the rabbits are scampering across the yard, back to wherever their haven is. I silently thank them for their presence and the lesson in appreciation as I happily dig in to this perfect, though different and somewhat late, dinner.


Ferida Wolff has been exploring the terrain of the self for over thirty years. She has an MS in Education and holds a certificate in Holistic Studies. As a teacher of Hatha Yoga, she helped her students focus on and listen to their inner messages. She practices Qi Gong and Tai Chi and tends to look at the world from a variety of perspectives. 

She is the author of 16 books for children as well as the adult book The Adventures of Swamp Woman: Menopause Essays on the Edge. She can be reached at feridawolff@msn.com or through her website www.feridawolff.com.

©2006 Ferida Wolff for SeniorWomenWeb

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