bunny sock hop
October 7, 2007
When Tom and I first moved into our new home, 3 years ago in December, we discovered that a wildlife highway ran right through our backyard.
Most mornings, I’ll stand at the kitchen sink, washing the dishes I should have washed the night before. It’s then that I’ll catch from the corner of my eye, squirrels, raccoons and all manner of bird, scamper, skip and hop along our block wall fence. When the sun is high and the weather is warm, lizards skitter across the wall, stopping occasionally to pump out a few push-ups. When the sun lowers again, our resident possum waddles across the lawn, muttering to himself. He makes his way to our trash can, then pops inside for a nosh.
One evening, as I pulled into the driveway, my headlights caught something. At first I thought it was a plastic bag with the handles. I turned off the motor, grumbling about what kind of loser would throw their trash in our front yard. Just then the bag moved. It hopped actually. The handles of the bag were ears. It was a tiny little bunny! I moved toward it as stealthily as I could, but it disappeared into the neighbors yard.
A few days later I was jogging down our street and almost tripped over a small rock. The rock hopped away. Once again, my eyes had played tricks on me. It was yet another tiny bunny! It stopped for a moment to stare at me defiantly before it slipped into the bushes. I stood very still and waited for a moment. Soon 3 more of the miniature creatures reappeared. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The largest one could fit in the palm of my hand. I dubbed the smallest one Peanut.
When I jogged home and described the palm sized critter to Tom, he had to see it for himself. As soon as he laid eyes on Peanut, he fell instantly in love as well. From then on, every evening, around sunset, we would sneak over to the same area and sit very still on the grass and wait for the pygmy bunnies to come out for a nibble of grass. They never disappointed. Later in the evening, Tom would grab the flashlight and sweep the light over all the lawns surrounding us. We’d see bunny ears silhouetted against the light of the street lamp. Dozens and dozens of them. Tom suggested that they were pairing off, getting ready for the mating game. A bunny sock-hop of sorts. It was becoming an obsession for us.
Things took a sad turn when one day we found a bunny in the middle of the road, in front of our house. Hit by a car. We took it pretty hard. It woke us up from our naivete. It pained us to see the juxtaposition of such innocent, magical wildlife with the overwhelming power and machinery of our high density suburban lifestyle. We carried it lovingly to some chaparral near our house, laid it to rest while speaking words over it. We apologized for being the selfish humans we are.
That night the bunny sock hop took place as usual, on the lawns across the street from us. Once again, all was right in the world. The circle of life, I guess.
I recently stumbled upon an article about pygmy rabbits. Sadly, they are endangered. You can read about them here and here if you like. I can’t help wondering if the bunnies in our neighborhood are pygmies. Tom says no, they’re so small because they’re babies. Besides, pygmy rabbits are really only found in Northern California and Washington state. But I wonder.
So, on and on our bunny obsession went, for two years. Until this year. Something happened. We don’t see the bunny ear silhouettes anymore. No more Peanut nibbling on grass on our lawn. Maybe they’ve moved on to wilder terrain. As much as I miss them, I kind of hope they have. They’ll be better off. We suburbanites don’t deserve them.