Illustration of Peter Rabbit escaping and leaving his jacket behind, from The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Garden of Eaten
After last year’s dismal attempts at growing a garden I should have known better and just bought produce at the local store. It was a conspiracy right from the beginning and I didn’t anticipate the craftiness and tenacity of rabbits and ground squirrels.
I labored in the sun, lovingly and carefully placing the seeds in meticulous rows or circular formations. I did not pay close attention to the eyes that watched hungrily. I was in charge and I would maintain order as the tomatoes and cantaloupes, the beans and watermelons, and the other assorted vegetables grew in regulated patterns. In theory everything would be perfect.
At first the plants themselves did not cooperate. They grew rapidly, sprawling over cages and netting. I adjusted my watering and feeding schedules. Yes, there were timelines and soil and fertilizer mixtures prepared for each type of plant. I worked the garden methodically, expecting everything to grow exactly as I wanted. But one morning I noticed that the cantaloupe vines were lying in new directions.
I scratched my head and studied them. As I pondered, one vine stretched taut and then suddenly went limp. I walked over and examined the end of the vine. It had been sliced cleanly. Something had happened and I had missed it. I focused on a small hill and was rewarded when a pair of ears emerged, followed by a pair of dark eyes. A rabbit stared at me, apparently waiting for my next move. I could have sworn it was smiling as it casually munched on cantaloupe vines. The rabbit was either really brave or it realized I had no chance of catching it. Like a soldier preparing to march off to war, I swung my hoe up and against my shoulder. I muttered angrily, “Mister Rabbit, this means war!”
I strode purposefully towards the rabbit, but it waited until I was close. Then with three short hops it disappeared under the fence. I was fuming because the rabbit had violated my Garden of Eden, my model of perfection.
Once safe on the other side, the rabbit turned and winked. It was deliberate and mean spirited. I knew this rabbit was taunting me. He waved, but not at me. I turned around slowly. Behind me, little rabbits were munching on cantaloupe flowers and new growth. I lifted my hoe and the rabbits scattered in all directions. I was like the legendary Mr. McGregor chasing Peter Rabbit. I gave chase but I was too slow and the little rabbit wriggled under the gate and escaped.
The next few days I fixed the fence, set traps, and even put out repellent. I was determined to keep the rabbits away. Throughout the summer I waged war but it became clear I was on the losing side. With the exception of the tomatoes my garden shrank under the attack of the hungry hordes.
Each night I had nightmares about animated rabbits and ground squirrels. In these dreams rabbits and squirrels sat at a huge banquet table eating their fill while I hurried to grow more to satisfy their needs. Each rabbit and squirrel told others and soon cousins and uncles arrived from distant climes to share this feast. Rabbits appeared everywhere and thrived in spite of me. I finally capitulated and left the rabbits and squirrels alone. My dream convinced me they were the chosen ones.
This year I’m doing things differently but that’s another story.