The Negotiated Settlement


English: Rabbit shape Français : Silhouette d'...
English: Rabbit shape Français : Silhouette d’un lapin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Negotiated Settlement  (part three)

 

I leaned on my hoe and thought about all that had transpired this summer and last.  I was losing the garden war. My vegetables were disappearing at an increasing rate under the onslaught of the critters, especially by the attacks of the rabbits.  In reality I had already given up.  They were simply too much for me.

 

I toyed with the ideas of putting poison in each rabbit and ground squirrel hole, or sitting outside with my shotgun and trying to shoot just one.  I finally decided both of those plans had flaws.  I could be fined or arrested for shooting a firearm too close to residences, disturbing my neighbors with the noise, or worse, accidently shooting myself in all of the excitement.

 

As for the poison, it could have been long slow deaths for the rabbits and squirrels, and possibly for dogs or cats which happened upon a weakened rodent and decided it was a snack.  I couldn’t take a chance.

 

I sat down and leaned against a tree as I pondered the ultimate demise of the pesky critters.  My eyelids were heavy and I closed them just for a moment.  I was so tired and I needed to rest.  It seemed that I was floating, but the tree hadn’t moved.  I hadn’t moved either but now I could see and hear things I had missed before.

 

Off in the distance a strange cadence broke the silence.  The noise grew louder and I decided that the noisemaker was getting closer.  I finally recognized the sound, just as a line of rabbits came thumping and hopping into view.  It was a parade.

 

Each rabbit carried a musical instrument.  I counted twenty trombones, twenty trumpets, fifteen snare drums, ten clarinets, and ten saxophones.  At first, only the drummers were producing music, but the other musicians soon combined and began playing a Souza march.

 

Behind the musical marchers were three rows of suited rabbits. Each rabbit had two tall ears and a button nose. They wore crisp pin-striped suits and looked like they were fresh out of Entrepreneur or Playboy.  The marching rabbits stopped and marched in place before separating and forming a path to let one of the suited rabbits through.

 

The rabbit was grizzled and old.  He stepped forward and leaned on his polished cane.  “Son,” he muttered, “we’re here to negotiate a truce.  The vegetables are going to be gone soon if nothing is done.  I’m here to help you!”

 

This was a surprise.  Why did the rabbits want to help me?  I was the enemy.

 

Two rabbits handed some papers to the old rabbit.  He glanced at the papers before clearing his throat and saying, “We think all could benefit from our proposal.”

 

I thought t over quickly.  “It’s my garden so I’m willing to give the rabbits and squirrels ten percent.  No, make it twenty percent.”  I was feeling generous and happy my ordeal was over.

 

The rabbit chuckled and then thumped the ground, howling with laughter.  Other rabbits joined in and continued to laugh until he raised his paw and bade them to stop.

 

“There are so many more of us and we need more just because of our sheer numbers.  We think the split should be ninety percent for us and ten percent for you.  In addition, we also expect you to maintain the garden in order to earn your ten percent.  To be fair, for our part we’ll eat the grass and thin the vegetables, leaving you ten percent.”

 

“That’s not fair!” I fumed.  “That’s robbery!”

 

The old rabbit frowned at his assistants.  All were solemn without any changes of expression, except for an occasional nose twitch.  “You have no choice.  Take it or leave it.  We might decide to take it all!”

 

He stomped out of the garden, stopping only for a moment while he whispered to his assistants.  They hopped about nervously, occasionally frowning at me, before proceeding out the gate.

 

While I considered his offer, a young rabbit pushed against the garden fence, looking for a place to enter.  “This is ridiculous,” I said.  “They’ve gotten so fat  they can’t even get in.”

 

What could I do?  I had nothing to bargain with.  It was either lose everything, or get ten percent, if I worked hard to keep the garden up.  Unless I acted quickly I would lose my garden entirely.   I decided to agree with terms even though the settlement was not right.  This year I was beaten.

 

I shook myself.  I must have been dreaming.  An idea began to form and I smiled.  “Next year,” I said quietly.  “Next year I will win.  I will thwart all attacks because I won’t care.  I will plant weeds!”

 

I smiled again at my devilish plan.  I’d win by losing.  I wouldn’t have a garden but the critters and lawyers would get nothing!  It was brilliant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Wars (part 2)


English: A rabbit (A cottontail, I think) posi...
English: A rabbit (A cottontail, I think) posing on the grounds of Pompeys Pillar National Monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Garden Wars (part 2)

 

The garden war intensified. The rabbits responded to my attempts to drive them away.  No longer did they simply hide behind plants and run.  Despite my border control, the attacks on the garden increased on all fronts.  The cute little bunnies enlisted the help of gophers to assist the ground squirrels.  Instead of holes here and there that the rabbits and squirrels could dive into, I discovered an intricate underground tunnel system that allowed the critters to appear or disappear at will. Under all the stress my mind began creating little rhymes.  I went around muttering, “Hop, hop, hop.  They keep on munching and never stop.”

 

An aerial attack was also underway.  Doves, pigeons, and blue jays swooped down on my strawberries and sampled them, selecting only the ripest and plumpest, disdainfully rejecting the green ones.  I tied colorful streamers to poles, hoping that the motions of the aluminum strips fluttering in the wind would keep the birds away.  However, the multi-colored strips attracted larger flocks of birds, which I think reminded them of parties held in my neighborhood.  Or perhaps the streamers served as wind socks, letting the incoming traffic land without mishap. In any case, the combined forces presented a front that was overwhelming.

 

For awhile I hated all the critters because they had taken charge and eliminated any chance of a successful harvest. I yelled at them frequently.  “You’re greedy and selfish.  You’re destroying everything.  Have you no decency?”

 

I needed to be patient.  Everything had its season and the garden’s season had brought its bounty.  Maybe all of the critters would overeat and pop.  I could see the chubby rabbits hopping between the rows without regard for my needs.  I still couldn’t catch them but if I had patience I might catch one off guard.

 

I waited my chance but my heart softened as I began observing their traits and habits.  I decided all rabbit families were not the same.  Some families turned the little rabbits loose as soon as they entered the garden.  The wee ones scampered about wildly, disregarding all danger and became a distraction to the other rabbits.   Other rabbit families kept their offspring under control, keeping them nearby until their shopping was completed.  But whether the families allowed wild hares or not, I began realizing rabbit families were similar in many ways to humans.  I could not harm them after that.

 

 

 

Garden of Eaten


Illustration of Peter Rabbit escaping and leav...
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.

 

 

 

Chasing Rabbits


English: Rabbit shape Français : Silhouette d'...
Image via Wikipedia

Chasing Rabbits

Sometimes I would take Roxy and Pixie, my two labs, down to the river for long walks and let them explore.  Not only was it a change of scenery but it was a time for me to reflect about life in general.  During one of those outings I observed how life works for me and why I never seemed to get ahead.  After watching the dogs in their endeavors I decided that I’ve always chased rabbits.

Roxy was the faster of the two dogs and also the more skilled hunter.  She would make wide sweeps through the brush and flush rabbits that were hiding there.  Pixie would go ahead and wait for the rabbits to come her way.

A rabbit would jump out of the brush and race for shelter somewhere else, always with Roxy in hot pursuit.  Pixie would always be ready but somehow the rabbits would outmaneuver or jump at the right time and escape.  I didn’t pay much attention at first but I noticed the results were the same each and every time.

I set up an observation point so I could watch the entire chase.  The chase went smoothly and their efforts proved fruitless.  Somehow, though, I had a hunch that deception was taking place right before my eyes and I was missing a key ingredient of the action. I needed more information to come up with a reasonable explanation.

Several missions later I brought my camcorder and got ready for action.  Roxy flushed a rabbit. It ran and increased its lead for a moment. Roxy gained and drew closer.  Pixie waited and then dashed in just when the rabbit arrived.  The rabbit found a sudden burst of energy and got away.  At least it seemed that way as I watched in real time.

Later as I reviewed the movie I had taken of the chase, I noticed a few strange details.  The rabbit getting away was not the rabbit at the beginning of the chase.  After studying the movie in slow motion I came to the conclusion there were four rabbits, and they were in a relay.  The first rabbit would get a big lead, slow down and hide.  The second rabbit would leap up and repeat the process.  Each rabbit in turn would take over at the appropriate time, leaving the last rabbit to make a clean getaway.

I could almost hear each rabbit snickering behind the bushes.  “Heh, heh, heh.  I can hardly wait for my turn.  They’ll eat my dust as I show those dogs my speed.”

All my life I’ve been in pursuit of one rabbit after another.  Just when I thought life was under control, something else would leap to the front and distract me, leaving me to always be the chaser but never getting ahead.  By watching the dogs I learned to keep my eyes on my target. When it stops I need to take a moment to rest and regain strength.  And then be ready to run again.  Oh, yes, and to have fun.  I don’t have to catch anything today. Tomorrow will be a new day and there will be more rabbits.

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