So Punch and I were doing a little gardening last week. I use the word ‘gardening’ loosely; I am no green thumb. Years ago, you may remember, Whiny tried to plant toasted pumpkin seeds in our yard, and I explained to him the only thing that should ever go in a garden toasted is mommy. That is about the extent of my knowledge of botany. In any event, Punch and I were in the yard planting some tomato plants we had purchased at his school’s flower sale. Nearby was a somewhat unsightly weed/shrub, which Punch asked if he could dig up. I gave the OK. After a few turns of the shovel he heard some small squeaks. Uh-oh.
I knew almost immediately what we had stumbled upon, as I had noticed a rabbit lurking in the area the past few days. I assessed the situation. I have an 11-year-old boy wielding a shovel, a bush full of bunnies that can’t be more then a few days old, and a psychotic puppy playing in the yard who had suddenly taken notice of the distress call coming from the bush. There were 45 seconds of bedlam, and I’m sorry to say, a casualty. I could see the guilt and sadness spread over Punch’s face. So, I did what all the parenting books tell you to do in a situation like this: I lied.
Not feeling optimistic about the fate of the little fellows, I told Punch it is a nest of voles, insidious unattractive pests. You know how people hate possums and love raccoons even though raccoons are way worse? Oh look, there’s a disgusting possum minding his own business in that bush and that adorable furry bandit is rooting through our trash! It’s sort of like that. Punch had done a good thing and all is right in the world. Here’s where the story gets complicated. It turned out the mother rabbit did not have as laissez faire of an attitude toward her brood as I would have thought. Overnight she made some adjustments to her nest to improve their chances of survival. So when Punch went out the next morning to check the tomatoes, the nest of awful voles was gone—no doubt eaten by a hideous possum—and just a few inches away there was a nest of baby bunnies! It’s a garden miracle.
Now not only do I have to maintain the illusion—keep the puppy on a leash for the next week or so; I don’t want her getting another, er, getting a bunny like she got that vole—but what’s worse, I’m invested. Their mother seems to have wished them luck and hopped off to greener pastures. My mother, meanwhile, is bringing over an eyedropper to feed them and calling the exotics vet that spayed our guinea pig. (Boy, there’s a sentence you never imagined yourself writing). By day, I swear to remain uninvolved— nature will decide. Enabling unhealthy creatures is what got us The Jersey Shore. By night, I’m out there with a saucer of milk, scattering spinach leaves and trying not to spill a vodka gimlet down their hole.
And in the end, we had a survivor. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl so we named it Pat—Pat, the bunny—who soon, and probably wisely, hopped off to our neighbor’s yard, where an extremely old dog and ample landscaping should ensure a long and happy life.