Friday, June 4, 2010

Wild Kindgom, Part 1

I don't know how we're going to top our May.  May was a great month for us, between warmer temps, getting the yard in order, Daddy's birthday, and Mother's Day, one might think things couldn't get any better.  Ah, Ethel and Fred will tell you - it could.

I spent a good bit of time this spring focusing on spring cleaning inside, while really wanting to get at the outside.  Each time I peered out the windows, or spent time outside with the kids, I cringed at the growing weeds, the rotted wood pile, and the myriad of other things I could tell needed attention.  As it happened, we ended up with an entire free weekend the weekend of the 15th and 16th of May.  Literally no plans outside the house.  Glorious.  Seriously.

I started about 8AM Saturday morning.  Got up with the kids, ate some breakfast, and herded the three of us outside to begin the day's projects.  First on the list, the back yard.  When most people set out to do yard work, they aim to rid garden areas of weeds, plant fresh flowers, cut the grass, etc.  When I set out to do yard work, it generally involves digging out yards of weeds, cutting down sprouting trees, and trying to expose some bit of space that could someday act as a home to vegetables, fruits, and/or flowers.  A girl can dream, right?

So, this lovely (yet slightly chilly) Saturday morning I set out in the back yard and started digging.  While I dug, the kids played in the back yard, playing with the toys and little house which I'd just brought out from their long winter slumber against the fence.  They were so excited to see the house, bikes, and other outside toys for the first time in months.

As I dug, the kids wandered the patio, and suddenly I heard, "Mommy, there's bunnies in that hole!".  Uh huh, sure, kids.  Then they repeated (in unison), "Mommy, in this hole, there's bunnies!".  So, I stopped and turned to see what hole they were referring to, assuming it was out in the grass.  Nope.  They were solidly staring into the window well.  Heads down, smiles on their faces, and fingers stiffly pointed in the window well, I strolled over to see what they were looking at.

Bunnies.  They were right.  Two, tiny bunnies, curled up together in the leaves piled at the bottom of the well.  Swell.  The kids were jumping up and down, Ethel asking a gazillion questions, and Fred gently saying, "Aw, they're so cute!". 

The kids agreed that we'd let the bunnies be for a while, and later in the morning we'd get them out.  I set out to thin out some ground cover when suddenly I heard a rustle, rustle, THUD!  Craptastic.  A quick glance into the other window well revealed that yes, that was a third bunny I'd scared out of the ground cover, and he'd jumped into the other well.  Swell.

With the third bunny scared out of his mind, jumping and doing all that he could to try to escape, I knew it was time to get the bunnies out of the wells.  It happened that we had a dog crate, left by a friend after we'd watched her dogs.  I carefully retrieved the three bunnies with my work gloves on, and placed them gently in the crate, so we could watch and make sure none were hurt.  Not knowing where their den was, we weren't sure where to release them.  So, we let them rest in the crate until we could be sure they were OK.  We went in and had lunch, and when we returned outside, two had escaped.  One left. 
As it turned out, that last bunny didn't really seem to want to take off.  He never went far, and I finally collected him from the lawn so the neighbor could cut the grass without risking getting the little guy.  He was so cute.  He let me hold him, pet him, and didn't so much as squirm.  My inner child was screaming, "Can we keep him??", but the Mommy in me was saying, "What the heck are we going to do with this thing??".

Long story short, we kept him overnight.  I told the kids that we'd keep him overnight, and if he was OK in the morning, we'd talk about what to do with him.  Well, he survived quite well in the shoe box that I suited up for him.  In a bed of grass with mixed greens, he spent the night in Ethel's room.  She surrounded the shoe box with all her stuffed rabbits and bunnies, then read it some books.  About rabbits and bunnies.  Excited doesn't begin to cover how she was feeling about having this bunny in her room.

The next morning, we opened the box to find lots of little bunny poops, the greens having been eaten, and a little bunny quite contented in his little bed of grass in the shoe box.  We tossed a few more greens in there for him, and Ethel prepared a dish of water, too.  She was very mothering, and continued to worry that he might be missing his Mommy and Daddy.  It was really sweet.  Fred, he just kept repeating, "Aw, he's so cute", in that cute little voice with that still-a-toddler-lisp. 

When I set out Sunday morning, Ethel first had to put all her stuffed rabbits and bunnies on the chair in the dining room, facing the front of the house.  She moved the chair, placed the animals, and told me she put them there so they could watch us outside, and so they could see when the bunny left the box and found his parents. 

I opened the shoe box and laid it on the lawn beside where I was working.  Little bunny just sat, chewing on the greens I'd just laid in the box.  He just sat there.  It was a good hour before he left the box.  And even then, he only stayed in the area between the houses, near where I was working.  Oh, he was so cute.  I was really wrestling with snatching him up to keep him, I really was. 
In the end, bunny hopped away.  I saw him the next morning before I left for work, resting in the small rose bush along the neighbor's house.  As the rain began to gently fall that morning, he quickly hopped away to find better shelter.  Ethel was really pleased with the outcome, surprisingly, as I'd figured she'd be a basket case once we told her we were letting him go.  She was more concerned that he missed his parents, and was happy to know that he'd hopped off to find them.  When we didn't find him that Monday evening, she was quite satisfied to know that he was out in the wild, where he belonged.