As many of you know, I often profess my extreme dislike for rabbits which manifests itself in many ways. Verbally (“little bastard” is a go-to), physically with many a shoe launched out the door at all hours of the day and, when my dog Stella was still with me, the frequently snarled “Get that rabbit.” She was a keen huntress.
I’m sharing this in an effort to purge myself of the guilt I suddenly carry after what I witnessed last weekend. Let me preface this by writing that my garden is crawling with rabbits as a result of the raised deck in my neighbor’s yard that serves as a sort of flop house for all the horny rabbits who pop in, scratch an itch or two or twelve, and leave me to deal with the darling little critters that result from their promiscuity. It’s a problem.
We’ve had another recent explosion of little bunnies who’ve inevitably discovered my garden, weaving through the thicket of dahlias, roses, and hydrangeas to avoid me. And I have to admit, at this stage, they’re really cute. So when I heard one cry out, sounding much like a small child, the other night as I sat chatting with my sister-in-law at the kitchen table, I knew something was hunting in the backyard and couldn’t resist the urge to head out into the darkness.
My husband had left the patio light on that evening, something we rarely do, so that the grassy area just beyond the patio was dimly lit. In that sliver of space where light meets dark stood the silhouette of a Great Horned Owl. While I couldn’t see the tiny rabbit in its talons, I knew it was there. The owl turned it’s head with the smoothest swivel, eyes golden, the feather tufts on its head more pronounced as it squared off with me. Without a sound, it lifted off, revealing the white undersides of its wings and the outline of a lifeless little rabbit dangling in the darkness.
For a moment, a tinge of sadness came over me followed by a good amount of relief. One less “little bastard.”