Ok, admittedly I am an animal person. This means I find myself much more comfortable in a room full of critters than many people (kids excluded, they are kind of like the animals, and not in a bad way!) So that is one reason for my attraction to my little brown yard buddies. The wild rabbits are just that -- wild -- in no way, shape or form will they be put on a lap and cuddled, given a name like “Sprinkles” and forced to live in a domestic harem of a cage filled with a bag of Hartz hay and stale pellets. They are free and wild. And they actually are happy and comfortable living among us humans. They don’t even move when we see them (except for the itty bitty new bunny near my front fence - I call him Pippy, ok, naming rule broken.) They keep a wary eye on us, but it is as if they can nod and say ”It’s cool, man” and keep on munching. A mutual trust, of sorts.
Finding a baby nest (den?) was the highlight for me of this past spring. Watching the squirming little bald newborns turn into vibrant and beautiful rabbits was akin to experiencing a miracle. The miracle of nature. Here you have a simple-minded creature, a rabbit. It gets pregnant and instinctively knows to go find a good spot in the open to dig a deep hole to give birth. Out in the open to deter predators. Did it read a book on that or something? It sneaks over to the hole, pretends to munch grass and BAM delivers a load of baby bunnies. Then covers them up and leaves. Alone they snuggle, in a dark, damp, fur-lined hole, waiting for their once-a-day visit from Mama, who again parks over the hole and pretends to feed while each baby takes a day’s worth of sustenance. A baby bunny can ingest a day’s worth of calories in minutes, only once a day. I wish feeding humans, myself especially, was that easy. When I naughtily checked the hole by moving the fur and grass cover, I was greeted with an immediate response from the squirming little ones, their tiny pink noses reaching out ahead of closed eyes looking for their meal. So cute. I quickly cover up the hole, pat down the grasses, and sneak away, hoping the foxes under my barn aren’t watching.
Within days, it seems, the buns develop fur and their eyes are open, but their little ears lie flat against their bodies, a sign that they are still too immature to be on their own. Secretly Mama keeps returning to feed them, sight unseen by human eyes most of the time, and they grow. In their mysterious underground cavern. All that growing takes a lot of sleep, I guess. The urge to scoop up each little warm ball of fur is almost unbearable, but I know it is forbidden in this delicate agreement between me and the mama bunny. All this goes on in my plain, un-manicured yard. It appears as if nothing is happening. All quiet on the surface. Just the natural rhythm of day to day natural things. But this time, this season, when the rabbits are plentiful enough to camp out and have their families grow in our suburban presence, we can observe.
Bunnies aren’t rocket scientists. Having had one as a pet years ago, I can attest to their rather reserved intellectual skills. Yet they got this reproduction thing down pat, instinctively. I seriously doubt a mama rabbit stays up late wondering about the world and her role in it. About what her babies will do when they grow up, and how she will find enough grass the next day to allow her to feed her young. Nope, she just does like a bunny and does it, minute by minute, hour by hour. I read that wild bunnies only live a couple or few years. Maybe that is why they don't care so much.
As someone who has a habit of overthinking, often with a high degree of frustration over what my body can’t do even though my mind wants it done, this is a refreshing attitude. I wonder if rabbits have a list of daily “shoulds” in their little rabbit minds? I doubt it. I bet a rabbit’s inner dialogue is something like “munch...munch...that was a good piece of grass...munch.” I can learn a lot from my bunnies. Maybe floating through every day like a rabbit isn’t such a bad way to go.