A year ago I was wondering if it would ever snow or even get consistently below freezing. Today, it's firmly below zero and the ground is firmly covered in white, glistening in a bright cold sun. Birds are flicking to and from the feeder, and squirrels are rooting around underneath, their tails fluffed and curled back over their heads, trying to keep reasonably warm. In the early pre-dawn hour (thanks to the end of DST I was up) I saw a rabbit making his winter rounds, though I couldn't tell if it was my friend with the damaged hind leg; I hope so, since he's nearing the end of his expected life.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a cottontail rabbit, raised in a makeshift nest by an absentee mother who shows up only for feeding time (ostensibly to keep from tipping off predators). Knowing instinctively that every carnivore is out to get you. Cautiously moving out into the open, always on the alert. That's why I feel sort of honored when one of them will take food from my hand, even stand next to me and wash his face, and, rarely, plop down onto the ground and stretch out in relaxation, the ultimate wild rabbit compliment.
The birds at the feeder are fascinating, too, their squabbles and obvious hierarchy based on size and willingness to fight. Fascinating to me, but life-and-death to them, especially on days like this on which most food is unseasonably buried in white and ice. Reminds of that quotation by Plutarch, "Boys throw stones at frogs for fun, but the frogs don't die for 'fun', but in sober earnest." It's so easy to forget just how serious all these creatures are outside as they go about their daily rounds.
Not everyone will survive for long, perhaps one or more will not see the end of the day, will not be around as this bright white light fades into gray, into deep dark, their lives might end with the setting sun. While I . . . while I what? I was going to say while I go on to another day, but then I realized I don't know that. Soon enough my bright white will fade or be suddenly blacked out, and I'll find that my seemingly reasonably easy middle-class American life is actually its own soberly earnest struggle for survival. Right now I'm like the rabbit lounging in the summer sun, not knowing when or if the hawk of reality will swoop down from nowhere.
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