I’m partial to polka dots, so I leave the dandelions alone. My next-door bunnies are partial to dandelion leaves, so I often see their polka-dot tails in my yard.
When I sit in my favorite chair, I can see the backyard through the large picture window. A chain-link fence encircles the yard, dividing it from the empty fields to the east and south. The uneven ground beneath the fence provides a portal for the bunnies to squeeze through and enjoy the green buffet that we provide.
Earlier this month, the weather warmed and my husband cut the grass: the first of the season. Mixed in with the cut grass were handfuls of rabbit fur that once lined a shallow depression in the ground: a former birthing center for rabbits. Now they live in the further field, near the neighbor’s lilac bush.
In the soft light of late afternoon, one or more bunnies slide under the fence to eat. Last week I spent thirty minutes in my chair with my binoculars watching a lone bunny in the yard.
He tiptoed near the fence looking for something good to eat, wearing earth’s own colors – raincloud gray, sandy brown, and sandpiper buff, all detailed in either onyx or snow. Seen through the binoculars, his fur bore a pattern like feathers, and when he raised his head, ears erect, turning this way and that, I half expected him to fly away.
He nibbled on some dandelion leaves and chewed so rapidly, it seemed a kind of mincing. Often he lifted his head and scanned the skies and yard. He read the trees and clouds with his large brown eyes and studied all its smells with his ever twitching nose. I have seen a hawk or two fly overhead on other days, and I suppose he has as well.
Satisfied that he was safe, he settled into himself, sinking into a mound of fur, his ears like tiny horns, and rested in his stillness. Sitting sphinxlike in the yard, I thought he looked magisterial, small in size but great in wisdom.
Then he flared his nose and let loose ripples of twitches that rolled over his body, as if he had held his giggles long enough and now must return to his bunny ways and leave wisdom for the owls.
After grazing a bit more, he sat up, fluttered his two front paws and licked them. He groomed himself as carefully as a young man on a first date, then froze, suddenly remembering that the world must be watched.
I could have watched much longer, but he had other places to go. Turning back toward the fence, he showed me his improbable tail: a cotton ball glued on by a child’s hand. I waved goodbye and turned back toward my book.
Every evening I look for the rabbits, delighted that we share the world together. I know that dandelions and rabbits are often called pests, and perhaps they are, but they fill my heart with wonder. In my own way, I think the world bears watching.