One tries to not assign any sense of Destiny or anthropomorphic projection onto whatever wildlife crosses one’s path, but I don’t think it’s exactly a secret that I take something of an interest in bunnies. So it is amusing to me that bunnies—Eastern Cottontail Rabbits, Sylvilagus floridanus, if you must—are a common sight in my current landscaping career.
Further, I am endlessly amused that the bunnies are sort of irritating and twerpy, what with their nibbling of the ornamental flora and digging holes in the pristine beds and general mucking up of the fine gardens of suburban Boston.
Today while pruning and weeding, a co-worker uncovered what looked like a middin or a partially decayed animal. Startled, and not much liking to handle dead rodents, she asked if I would mind clearing whatever it was out. I don’t fault her for not wanting to dig around for a presumably desiccated animal corpse. After long years of experience killing and disposing of mice, I have no qualms with such activities myself. So I stoically picked up a trowel and a rubber bucket and set to. I did bury half of a dead bunny in another garden last week, so it seemed fairly acceptable and balanced that I’d have to deal with at least another half ex-bunny. Blah blah blah, in the midst of life we are in death, blah blah blah. I would have left the animal buried and let the bones of the dead feed the life of the plants, but I guess that is not protocol in a manicured hedge alongside a fancy deck and hot tub.
So it goes.
Under the loose leaves and duff, I found and shifted aside a layer of very soft gray-brown bunny fur. I nudged the trowel a little deeper. The dirt squeaked. I checked the fur, thinking that maybe the resident dog had killed and buried a squeaky toy. It was definitely fur, not plush stuffing.
Tentatively, I brushed the remaining fur and grass aside.
At least two baby bunnies were frantically burrowing deeper and deeper into their nest. Yes, they were completely adorable.
I know that baby bunnies are not a particularly safe bet in terms of survival, or as a symbol of anything legitimately viable. Parent bunnies will eat their own young if a threat is imminent. I am worried that my accidental invasion of the bunny-nest will leave too much of a human scent and the mother bunny will never return to her baby-bunnies, that my stagger moment of delight at seeing them will lead to their death. I don’t know if this sort of poetically grotesque action comes from a wish to save the offspring the coming misery, or if the parents are simply cramming in calories to ward off the hard times. But the brutal, biological reality does make any attempts at cyclic imagery sort of moot.
However, this is the thought I’ve been turning over all day, like a lucky coin or rabbit’s foot: I expected death and found life. Reality, again, defies preconceptions and that surprise of what truly is proves sweeter and more beautiful. (Or, if not more beautiful, about a kajillion times cuter.)
Most of the people I know are trying, constantly, to live better lives. Not better with the bigger house and the faster car, but better with making the world a kinder place. How they all, we all, go about this is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of passion and talent and courage. I know people working to saving ancient gardens in Istanbul, people on glaciers in Iceland, people teaching students how to be in this world, people reaching their hands out to the world in everyway possible and straining to give their best to others, and to receive the best that others can give. None of us know how this will pan out. This seems to be a new and twisting path, a way without expectations and benchmarks and moulds and models. The old paths and expectations are not working, largely. So we're doing something else, uncertain as it is. As the French say: bonne idée!
I love what we are capable of finding beyond expectations.
(Thanks again to Abby King for this adorable bunny photo.)