This morning started fraught with negative energy, domestically, internationally, and apparently cosmically.
In the middle of it all I walked to the kitchen sink and pulled open the curtains. Out there, in the chilly gray and brown of a not-quite-spring morning I saw my rabbit friend, the one with bad back leg who lives under the porch. He saw me in the window and rose on his back legs (he can still do that) and looked right at me. I went to the back door and opened it. He moved toward me. I got down on my knees and extended my hand, offering a Ritz cracker. He sniffed, moved closer, moved away, circled a bit, worked closer and closer, then took the cracker from my fingers.
I got slowly to my feet. He kept a wary watch as he chewed on the cracker. And I swear we made eye contact. I saw into those deep brown eyes, that seemed locked on mine. Without overly-anthropomorphizing, I know we have a relationship. It began when he first appeared at the door two years back, scrounging scraps of birdseed I had tossed out when giving the lovebird fresh food. The rabbit moved around that icy-white porch, leaving spots of blood wherever that rear leg touched the surface. And he kept coming back even as the leg semi-healed; he doesn't usually put much weight on it, sometimes licks at it as though it hurts, tries to hold it off the cold ground -- except when he senses danger, then he rockets off, using that leg as much as the other, no doubt, or at least I imagine, ignoring the pain for the greater good of survival.
It's to the point now that if I switch on the back porch light in the pre-dawn, I'll see three or so rabbits grazing out there; two or more will dash into darkness, but this guy comes to the porch for his snack. One can, and many will, suggest it's merely a matter of conditioning, but I feel it much deeper than that.
I feel a cosmic connection, a reminder that this universe is broader, bigger, deeper, more mysterious than my usual day to day life, and he is as much a sentient being in it as I am.
I also this morning remembered another cottontail rabbit from nigh onto 60 years ago. Growing up in central semi-rural America, fishing and hunting were common activities. I fished a lot, but rarely hunted. Same with my dad. But one winter weekend day dad -- normally a gentle man -- he came home with a dead rabbit; he'd shot it with our 22-caliber rifle, "right through the head," he said, "couldn't do it again in a million years." He cleaned it, we ate it (tasted as I recall, like chicken). He never to my knowledge shot anything else, but I wanted to do it too. To be like my dad, I guess.
One winter morning, a couple years later, he and I set out for me to bag my rabbit. He acted as a sort of beater, kicking at piles of brush in hopes of flushing out a rabbit. Nothing doing, time went by, I got cold and bored. Suddenly he shouted, "There he is! Shoot!" In my moment of surprise and panic, I shot the gun the right general direction, but missed the rabbit by a wide margin. I found myself with a mix of disappointment and relief.
We never went out again, by mutual consent. I don't think either of us much had much blood lust.
I think about that rabbit from time to time, and this morning I remembered it again. Wondered about some sort of cosmic loop, if this one in the backyard has any connection to that. Certainly this one has taught me so much about himself, as I study him nearly every morning, and he's grown to trust me. That rabbit years ago was not real to me, he was an archetype I think, an idea, a concept, a goal. I'm glad I didn't hit him and have to pick him up, blood matted red on his fur, still warm, with the life spirit just gone.
I like it better this way, and I like think that being attentive to this one shows how much I have grown since I tried to kill that other one. In any case, I know I couldn't do it now.
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