April 27, 2020
In Charles Schultz’ comic strip Peanuts, the character Snoopy has an on and off attempt to write the great American novel entitled “The Little Bunnies.” Bunnies are always depicted as cute cuddly fur balls. A bunny trainer was hired by my son for his daughter Lauren’s second birthday. He brought ten bunnies ranging in size from exceedingly small to one that had to weigh at least fifteen pounds. Most of the children invited latched onto the cute little bunnies, but not Lauren. She immediately took to the large bunny. She would pick it up and hold it in her lap. When the bunny squirmed away, she trailed off after it trying to give it more love.
There is a more sinister side to bunnies, however. That is when they become rabbits. Rabbits are voracious rodents that will eat anything they can get those long sharp front incisors into. I had an experience with rabbits when we grew our urban container display garden in Wichita. I had built an arched trellis between two of the containers and planted beans. I hoped to train the vines so they would grow up and over the trellis, creating a wonderful cascading bean array. As the season began my beans were looking great. Then one night it happened. Apparently, there was a clutch of rabbits living in the empty lot across the street. When I came to water the rabbits scattered. All my beans had been eaten. I put chicken wire around the containers but never got much of a restart.
What got me thinking about the rabbits is the discovery I made mowing my back yard. It has been raining lately and it makes the back yard impassible. When I went to check if I could mow, I noticed a few Blue Coral Bells had sprung up. I also noticed dozens of red dots on some of the thriving ground cover. When I examined them closer I realized they were strawberries. I have lived at the house for two summers and never noticed them as I had been able to mow. When I asked Melissa about them, she confirmed my find. Apparently, her mom had tried to grow strawberries for several years. Every time they got to the pink stage the rabbits came and ate the entire crop. I am going to put up some chicken wire and hope for the best.
THOUGHTS: Most things in nature have two sides. The cute bunnies are also the voracious rabbits. The difference is the context and our expectations. One trait of humans is our willingness and ability to change the surrounding environment. The rabbits at my house were living in a dilapidated building in an overgrown field. The building has been torn down and the field kept mown by the new owners. One thing the pandemic has shown is how resilient animals can be. Without the constant press of people, the animals have been allowed to thrive even in urban areas. Perhaps the lesson should be to find ways amid this new normal to allow both to coexist. If it is possible, Stay home. Stay safe.