Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Year of the Rabbit.

About a month ago, on a weekday afternoon, Daughter and I were walking around the neighborhood. Half-listening to her numbingly complete description of a moment of lunch-table drama, my eye caught movement under the bush next to the house we were passing.

Cat, I thought. Black cat, hopping under plant.

I took another step and tried to listen to the Daughter’s endless saga of who sits next to whom. My brain disobediently looped back to the animal.

Cats don’t hop.

I backed up a step and looked under the bush. Something stared back.

Cats also don’t have long floppy ears and chew sticks.

“Look,” I said intelligently to Daughter. “A rabbit!”.

She squealed in delight and flung herself on the ground so as to gaze adoringly at the rabbit. The rabbit, understandably, viewed sudden movement and a loud piercing squeal as something predators do, and took off across the driveway and through an open gate.

Daughter’s jutting lower lip told me that the three block-long monologue about how I had scared away the rabbit (who she was going to pet and adopt and call Bootsy) was going to be loud, heartfelt, and make me yearn for the seating-arrangement story. At that moment, the Fates smiled on me. Hopping through the open gate was another rabbit. This one was a wee little thing, white, with tall ears nearly as long as its body.

“Look,” I noted. “Another rabbit!”

[Linguistic style is saved for times when I’m not trying to keep my child from whining.]

Again, the squealing in delight. Again, the flinging. Again, the darting. This time, however, Daughter didn’t even have time to draw her eyebrows together before yet another rabbit (mid-size, black and white, one straight ear, one lop-ear) appeared from the house next door and headed towards the gate.

She cooed and stalked the third rabbit as I considered this situation. I’m not always the first person to pick up on trends, but seeing three rabbits in two minutes, all of whom seemed to have an awareness of this house and its open back gate, signalled something. I looked at the house. In a neighborhood where lots of people are doing lots of home-improvement, it was one of the few stubbornly clinging to its “Before” status. I walked past the car up on blocks in the driveway and approached the front door wallpapered in pizza delivery cards. I knocked. I rang what appeared to be a broken doorbell. I yodelled a few “Hellooooo?”s. Nothing.

Just as I was turning to leave, three boys slouched toward the house. They all sported the same teenage boy/Emo haircut which leaves, at most, part of your chin and a sliver of ear exposed; I smiled brightly at the hair mushroom nearest me who, being the one holding housekeys, appeared to be living there.

“Hi! Are these your rabbits?” I said, gesturing towards the rabbits, which were being lovingly stalked by Daughter. I noticed three more rabbits had joined the party.

The hair mushroom stood stock still. He was at the magic age where direct questions from adults, especially female adults, dry up the throat and create the inability to answer yes or no questions. I knew this, but he was the closest thing I had to a source of information. I repeated, slowly, gesturing like Vanna White, “ARE. THESE. (Swinging hand gesture to furry doorstops) YOUR. RABBITS.”

His head turned, and the hair split enough so one eye was briefly exposed. He squinted at the unaccustomed light and goggled at the rabbits. His friends stared at the ground. One hummed. A minute passed.

He finally got out, “Yeah.”

I was about to offer to help move them back into their cages when all of sudden, he got chatty.

“We breed rabbits. For pets. Or food. Whatever. Anyway. You can buy a rabbit. For a pet. Or, you know. Food. You want to buy a rabbit?”

I thought this degree of salesmanship was adorable if misguided, considering that four more rabbits had left through the back gate while he was doing his pitch.

“Thanks,” I said gently, trying to herd a couple who were heading down the block, “I’ll certainly think about it. But, in the meanwhile, you might want to…catch them and lock them up?”

The heads of hair looked at one another, to the degree something without eyes can be said to look. Clearly, the afternoon’s plans of sniffing paint and watching “Beverly Hillbillies” re-runs might be compromised by this assignment.


The hair mushroom said “Yeah.”

I had no idea what he just agreed to, or with. I’m not sure he did either, but it gave a certain anemic closure to the whole interaction. They went inside, I corralled Daughter and we continued on our walk.

Do I have to tell you how this is playing out?

Already, don’t you instinctively know no one in that house bothered to bring in the rabbits, which means we now have free-range rabbits for blocks around?

Need I explain that the newest nighttime driving hazard in the neighborhood is two rabbits in the middle of the street, frantically making more of themselves?

Would you like to know how the neighborhood dog owners have dislocated shoulders from their leashed dogs leaping like stallions after the rabbit which cunningly waits to bolt out from under a plant until the dog is just close enough to care?

Do you care that the city has told me that even if I were to catch some of them, they don’t have any more room for rabbits in the shelters?

On the plus side, the day before Easter, Daughter and I were going somewhere. Walking through the yard, she spotted something in the plants.


Yes, sweetheart. It’s also the other white meat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not 24 hours after my Humane Society rabbit adoptee left us (no, not that way; another rabbit rescue person offered to take her in, as she was a senior bunny and this person was adept at handling those health issues, plus said bunny could live cage-free at her place) I stumbled into an escapee bunny in a yard of an empty house on the Silverlake/Echo Park border. After some herding efforts, Escapee was caught and placed in a Trader Joe's canvas bag and taken around the neighborhood, until we learned he came from a local fellow who apparently started with two bunnies without understanding much biology, and now had a great many more, and that this little fellow had escaped a few days previous, and his careless owner shrugged when he was returned. Sigh. We made a unilateral decision, and lo, we were a bunny household again. I've rescued a couple others from a street near us, but at least helped those find new owners who weren't us. And now it seems there are even more out there, somewhere nearby. Oh, dear...

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn~As a mom of 3 sons, I am amazed at your complete understanding of the teenage male. On a good day, I get an "I love you Mom", on most days I have various grunts and bodily function sounds as answers to my basic questions. God is having one really big laugh at my expense~oh how I would love a quiet, sweet little girl, to braid her hair and have little Barbie weddings. Instead my days are filled with filthy clothes, unbelievebly stinky sneakers and a completely empty fridge even though I spend about $150 a week at the store. My true desire is to live long enough to see them to have their own teenage boys :) Chris

8:24 AM  
Blogger Vikki said...

Quinn - how many bunnies have you pledged to save?

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many bunnies have you pledged to save - and how can you live with yourself for not saving more?? ;-)

10:11 AM  
Blogger Goslyn said...

Ah, but rabbit is actually kind of dark and gamey ...

Very funny post. I just found your blog through Mel's site - Actual Unretouched Photo.

Can't wait to read more.

10:36 AM  

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