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This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
At the end of the school year my daughter’s class was reading Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This was thrilling for her because, 1) her name is Beatriz, the Spanish form of Beatrix (Husb.’s from Costa Rica), and even more awesome than the realization that a famous author has a name close in spelling to yours is, 2) we had a nest of rabbits under our deck.
“Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter,” she said, ticking them off, and leaving Costco leaf lettuce out for them. I had named them: Stew, Fricassee, and Ravager of Hostas, and Rabbit in Mustard Sauce.
There was a difference of opinion as to the “awesomeness” of having a nest of rabbits under our deck. My daughter, 6, wanted to to gaze adoringly into their brown eyes and feel at one with the vast universe of fluffy. (This is the child who has begged me to make unicorn-poop cookies. This is the child who has gotten from the Owings Mills library, all of the Chi’s Sweet Home series. For those of you who don’t know, it’s ultra-cute Japanese manga of a kitten.)
I wanted them dead. The rabbits, that is. Or at least east decamped to greener pastures — preferably across McDonogh Road to our neighbor’s horse farm where doubtless they’d be happier, being as they are woodland creatures.
Or did I? When we finally caught one in a Hav-A-Heart trap (baited with alfalfa because we read that alfalfa is catnip for rabbits) I came face to face with the horror the horror and…
goledarn, was Peter cute. SO cute.
It’s big scared brown eyes seemed to contain multitudes. It was like gazing into a limpid pool of innocence. Thumper, I murmured, feeding it a piece of carrot from my Atwater’s sandwich and watching its little brown lips and pink tongue adorably nibble, and remembering the little boy rabbit from Bambi, the Disney movie. Thumper, I said, is that you?
My daughter was like, Can we keep him? Pweeeze?! Giving me the manga kitten eyes.
It’s a question that all parents eventually have to jujitsu. It snapped me out of my fairies-and-unicorns-and-being-dressed-like-Snow-White-by-chipmunks reverie. Keep him? I said, No way. That’s a wild animal. That rodent ate all the sweet woodruff in my garden. But before I came to my senses I Googled “How To Raise A Wild Rabbit.” My search history proves it, and I’m not computer-saavy enough to erase the incriminating evidence. But it turns out that it’s illegal.
I illegally owned a wild rabbit for a brief, wonderful half hour.
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