Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bunny Hop

Our house was built on a two-acre parcel in a rural neighborhood. The majority of this property, therefore, is undeveloped. It is also a sloping piece, which prevents any kind of farming or livestock-keeping activity. In other words, it's awfully pretty and affords us a great deal of privacy, but it is essentially useless.

Still, that didn't stop the original owners from optimistically carving out for themselves at least some small semblance of civilized yard. How they did it, I don't know. Must have been some mighty intrepid landscaper, the guy who was able to amend this soil enough (with jackhammer? dynamite?) to sustain one dwarf apple tree, a half dozen fussy rose bushes, two buddelia, a set of greedy-ass Japanese iris, which despite my best efforts to deliberately kill off still somehow manage to optimistically send out a few blooms each spring, a monster of a lavender bush, one pink pom-pom-puffed flowering almond, and, I'm ashamed to say, a rather large strip of lush green lawn. And lush only because, unlike my actions regarding those silly iris, I do everything in my power to nurture, reseed, fertilize, water, and otherwise keep alive at all costs. If on any given morning from late March to end of May my neighbors emerge from their homes to hear a kind of low, desperate-sounding keening that's half prayer and half cuss-out, that would be me regarding my lawn. What is S.B. doing all the while? He's shaking his head and laughing himself silly. The boy's from South Louisiana. He's had his fill of lawn.

But I do it all for the bunnies. Each day in the late afternoon, early spring to late fall, here they come. From burrows God only knows how far and how wide, little buds of cotton white tails bobbing merrily, noses twitching eagerly, ears perked at the ready to discern the slimmest threat to the task at hand (the dogs have long given up the chase and are instead, fast asleep on their beds in the living room), the bunnies gather on my lawn to eat.

Only my lawn is not mainly a source of nutrition for the merry little critters. Oh no. It's also a hot bed of bunny courtship. If you wait long enough, you'll see it. All of a sudden and with no warning that I can discern, one of the bunnies will position itself in front of another bunny, fling itself up into the air a foot or two, make a 180 degree turn, and land behind the other bunny. The other bunny will then turn around, rear up on its hind legs, and biff the other bunny in the nose with a swift, boxing-like motion of its two front paws. Then the two bunnies will commence to chasing each other furiously around the lawn, pausing only to repeat the whole jumping/spinning/biffing sequence two or three more times.

When I first witnessed this bizarre behavior, I did what I always do when puzzled by something. I Googled it. According to several sites, including, this display is the bunny equivalent of, "Hey babe, what's your sign?" At the end of which, the bunnies supposedly run off together someplace private and commence with, well, you know. Funny bunny business. But I've never seen this happen. What I have seen is that usually, after two or three of these courtship dances, one of the bunnies turns tail and completely ignores the other bunny, choosing instead to ingest the tender green shoots of my lawn. Most likely this is the female bunny. All that courtshipping has simply given her a bunny headache. Then again, I suppose it could also be the male bunny, if it also happens to be bunny football season.

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