Monday, April 03, 2006

A Spring Story

Well, it' a glorious spring day here - lots of sunshine and a lovely breeze. The kids are playing outside and our sunroom allows me to see and hear them so nicely with the windows open. I've got a touch of the flu, so I'm sitting here with my laptop thinking it's a good time for a story...

Our first house was a small 1890s farmhouse on a quarter acre, just behind the main street in a smallish Wisconsin "village". The backyard was tiny - quite a bit of it was taken up with an old smelly detached garage and a very large (though occasionally leaky) shed - probably once used as a chicken coop. I still miss that shed which allowed me to store all the off-season clothes, books, Christmas decorations, etc. in Rubbermaid Tubs where the kids couldn't really access it (although a funny side point is that we never had to lock it).

Anyway, most of our yard was on the side of the house, running from the shed to the street in front. A nice wide, long area, wider than the house and unbroken except for two little apples trees we planted ourselves to give a little "definition" to the backyard.

We've always tended to be a little late with our first lawn mowing of the spring. One year, about six or seven years ago, John was engaged in this task (the mower was a bit of a bear besides). He always likes to mow in large rectangles, getting smaller and smaller toward the middle.

This time, he was nearly finished with the chore - he had perhaps a 6 foot by 10 foot section left to mow when he ran out of gas. The grass was already long, but this patch was near to the shed and it didn't seem worth the trouble to get more gas just then. So we let it be.

The next week, he decided to tackle that small patch when we saw him stop and swoop something up in the grass. It was a baby bunny. The mower went off and all the children (well, I think we only had three at the time) had to come over to see. There was a little rabbit warren, in a hole just at the surface of the lawn. There was just a little grass and some rabbit fur fluff covering (if I remember right) six babies. The long grass stayed and even Terri who was just toddling around could walk right up next to the hole, look down, and watch them peacefully sleeping without disturbing them. The mother rabbit showed up when things were a lot quieter to care for her little ones (Ria had christened them after Hilda Van Stockum's books - everyone's favorite was Francie who ran the farthest and the fastest - the mother bunny was, of course, "Hilda").

One time when I was walking out to the shed, Hilda was nursing the babies. It was the funniest thing to see - they were lying down underneath her kicking their legs around - guess human moms aren't the only ones with babies who wrestle them while they nurse!

Anyway, sometimes the most priceless lessons in life are the ones you don't plan, although I'd like to give this one a try on purpose some time just to see what happens. (I did see that MacBeth recommends something along these lines). Of course now that we have pets (a cat and a dog), we aren't likely to get a bunny family, but then again, our gardens are now a little safer too.

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