Times Past, Pausing to Remember



RABBITS IN THE GARDEN


Poking around in my little flower garden one day, I lifted a wad of dried grass and saw something pink beneath. I had to nearly get my nose on the thing, it was so little, to see what it was. Even then, I didn't understand it.

There were two of them, tiny things, pink and hairless. Obviously, they were newborn somethingorothers, but at first I hadn't the foggiest idea what that was. I stared a while and then, light and realization dawned. With those ears, and no tail at all (that I could see), they couldn't be anything but rabbits.


rabbit


I carefully replaced the dried grass and went back in the house. I positioned myself by the window, coffee and cigarettes at hand, waiting for mother rabbit to return. I waited. And I waited.

The next day, when she had not returned, I had to accept that something had happened to her, and those orphaned babies had to be fed immediately or they would die. Little animals, newborn animals, will die of dehydration in a hurry.

I took the babies to my vet. He was used to my just popping in without an appointment and never complained. He gave my animals good medical care whenever they required it, and in return he received most of my salary. Well, it was only money. You can't cuddle money.

He shook his head when he saw those babies. I knew what that meant; he didn't think I could save them. The advice was to feed them condensed milk, warmed slightly, with a little water to dilute it. I bought a pet nursing bottle, the smallest size, and my adventure in being a mother rabbit commenced.

Michael and Edward were fed every four hours, night and day, as the vet had instructed me. The daytime feeding was pretty easy, but the middle of the night feeding was a chore. It took each bunny about 20 minutes for each feeding. They were tiny, and their stomachs were tiny, too small to hold much at a time. I set the alarm clock each night so as not to oversleep. At first, they slept in a shoebox in a dresser drawer, to keep them safe from the cats. After a while, as they grew, they were given the bathroom as their own, private estate.

Fast forward. Michael and Edward thrived on their condensed milk and love from a human mother. They got bigger. I picked all the vegetation I could find that I hoped would supplement their diet. I bought all kinds of salad fixings from the supermarket. Michael and Edward taught me that bunnies do not like lettuce and carrots. So much for all those children's books about farmer whosits being bothered by Peter Rabbit.

rabbit


As Michael and Edward grew, they became wild and avoided people, even their mom. That was good. I had never intended to keep these wild creatures as pets; they would go back to the world of their ancestors.

The day came. Separation. I had to have moral support, so my friend Pat came over and together we downed a little Budweiser. In a nearby parkland, with tears flowing, Pat and I said goodbye to Michael and Edward. It was a happy, sad day I won't soon forget.


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