May 19, 2020
Mom found bunnies. Actually, she heard something squeaking. A sharp, and yet soft—eeeeeeeep. Eeeeeeeep. Eeeeeeeeep. Was is a high pitch? Yes. Was it also soft and quiet? Yes. Was us persistent and insistent? Yes. Mom was digging in the yard with a shovel. She was moving patches of these grasslike plants.
These grass like green plants are the first to pop up in the spring. It’s so promising to see green after a long winter. And when these green blades— more plump than blades of grass—pop up in early spring, it feels like something amazing was going to happen. Like a cute little flower is going to pop up and signal the warm season. A promise of joy. A promise of a smile. But then nothing happens.
These green patches sprout randomly all over the yard in spurts and halts. Jerking its way around the yard in slow motion. Meandering, without goals, in clumps, in batches. But one keeps waiting for something to happen. A small insignificant flower. A gesture. Anything. And then… they wilt and die for the season. Seriously underwhelming. Like I want my money back for all the waiting that I’ve done.
So mom decided to shovel them out and compost them. And it was during this digging session mom heard the sound. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
Mom froze. It was an animal. She put the shovel down and quietly started listening for the sound. It came again. Eeeeeeeeeep. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
Mom found the sound. It was coming from the ground, in the middle of a patch of greenery. She softly moved the dirt and grass about. And then she saw a soft swatch of fur that had been gathered and place with intention. Mom saw pinky flesh and bulbous eyes that were still closed and blind. Mom gently put the brush back over the indentation and walked into the house.
With fear and a fierce heart mom googles: I disturbed a bunny nest. The internet told mom to leave the nest alone. The internet told her that it is nearly impossible to help new born baby bunnies without the mother. The internet told mom that if she wanted, she could put some light colored yarn over the nest so that mom could see if the mother had come back to feed her babies. Apparently the mommy bunny only comes by once every day or two to feed the babies. Mom went back out into the yard and found some light colored twigs. She made a hashtag sign over the nest and walked away.
Mom checked on the hashtag every other hour. Nothing. She went for a last look before bedtime. No movement to the hashtag.
The next morning, mom made a beeline to the hashtag. And voila! The hashtag had been disassembled and traces of earth had been moved showing that the mama bunny had come visited her babies and fed them. What a sense of achievement. Mom was happy all day. Mom made another hashtag over the nest so that she could keep track.
All day mom had worried that she had hurt one of the babies because of the shrill squeaking. Mom was worried that she would find a body. But all was well.
The next morning mom went to check on the bunny nest. And the hashtag had been disassembled again. Yes. Okay. Great. We got this. We have consistent behavior from the mom bunny. All is well. Sheesh. Mom is so grateful that she is going to document this stage and share it with the world. Mom goes into the house to get the phone and walks back to the nest. When mom views the scene through her camera, that’s when she sees it. The little body. A few inches away from the nest. A dead baby bunny. It turns out my mom had hurt that baby. And after being cared for by her bunny mom for two days, the baby didn’t make it. And the bunny mom moved it out of the house.
My mom then buried the baby bunny under her pear tree. She apologized to the bunny and said her thank you’s. Once. Twice. Three times. Throughout the day.
As the sun was falling mom said her last thank you for the day and went to bed.
This morning mom walked by the bunnies nest to check up on the progress. She was fantasizing about how she might befriend the bunnies with little treats throughout the summer so that she could feel like Snow White and all her little creatures.
When mom got to the nest, something was wrong. The entire location was a wreck. Earth had been moved with force and conviction. Perhaps a raccoon? Groundhogs? Skunks? Bits and pieces of pink.
As a domesticated animal living in the suburbs, mom doesn’t have to deal with life and death on a daily basis. Life and death is far removed from her daily life as meat comes in a neat little tray covered in plastic. There is even a little sponge on the bottom of the tray to soak up the wee bit of blood.
Baby bunnies are like candy bars of the animal world. But because it happened to her, all of the sudden the death of a batch of bunnies is significant and precious.
Is death bad? Humans seem to think it’s bad. But why is it bad? When you die, don’t you get to be a part of Mother Earth again and be whole? Instead of the shivering, scared creature that desires control and predictability—wanting to know what’s going to happen to them? When you die, you become part of nature again, and when you are nature, you don’t have to be afraid anymore, right? Because you will just be. Just be. That sounds nice. Just be.
I’ll have to ask my mom what she thinks about this idea.