Bunny Tails

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

We are without air conditioning during this summer’s heat and humidity. Last year our aging condenser unit showed some suspicious symptoms, and this spring the old guy coughed a bit and expired with a groan. We are not scheduled for installation until the end of August because the company’s schedule is booked tight. I’ll be a puddle by then, but I am trying to keep my sweaty chin up and not complain.

When did I get so soft? I do realize this is a luxury, not a necessity.

We didn’t have air conditioning when I was young. On hot, muggy nights, my brothers and I camped on the living room floor of the farmhouse, sleeping on top of our thick sleeping bags, our flushed faces turned towards any available fan.

Occasionally, we hauled our mattresses to the screen porch which wraps around the front of the old house. Those were my favorite nights of the summer. We were exhausted after a summer’s day full of outside adventures and fell asleep listening to the spring peepers, crickets, or cicadas. It was cool by the middle of the night, and we woke early to the sun’s warmth.

This summer, we beat the heat by spending more of our early morning and evenings in our backyard, watching the birds. And most recently, we are entertained by the antics of young bunnies.

The bunny population is plentiful this summer. A friend shared a picture of rabbit destruction in her garden where an invasion of these gentle brown creatures destroyed her many hosta plants. All that remains of these lush beauties are little green sticks, the center hosta-leaf veins which reach upwards like pipe cleaners, the leaves nibbled neatly along each center.

According to the National Geographic and DNR websites, our brand of rabbit, the eastern cottontail, is plentiful throughout much of the United States. They are an important part of a healthy food chain, but they certainly aren’t healthy for area gardens! Cottontails like the plentiful vegetation found along forest edges and, of course, cultivated gardens. They feed mostly at dawn and twilight, can live as long as three years, and spend their lives within a two-to-three-acre area. But most of these young ones will die within the first month of life as they are a ready meal for hawks, owls, coyotes, raccoons and cats.

I see bunnies everywhere when I walk through the neighborhood or drive into town. Those little ones live a brief but certainly joyful life, frolicking, jumping, and teasing one another. They test various grasses and plants along our garden’s edge, and some of the reckless ones venture into the yard to eat the clover blossoms.

I hold my breath as an adorable Peter Rabbit, not more than four inches long, darts out to sample something in the grass and test his athletic jumping ability. Oh, he is innocent. Charming. Beautiful. In the morning light, his ears are golden and glowing. He is fearless.

I hope that Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail are sipping their blackberry tea in the safety of their burrow, and that Peter can beat the odds and make it home to flop on the floor with his tummy full.

My fingers are crossed.

It’s a Fine Life.

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