May 072014

This current post illustrates my thinking when I titled this Blog. As I decided originally,“Some of what I share will have to do with the craft and business of writing; others will be my take and/or experiences on life in general.”

The following qualifies as the latter. It’s an essay I wrote, based on a true incident in my life. Some of you may even identify with the event.

A Belief in Peaceful Coexistence:
Its Place In The Animal World

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That Summer Saturday began innocently enough. The clear, pleasant morning gave no indication of what was to follow. Putting housework on hold, I took a cup of coffee out onto our back deck for a few moments of quiet reflection.

It had been a busy week, coming home after the nine to five jobs, many more hours were spent preparing and planting the plot of backyard land that would be our garden. We had tilled the soil as carefully as a farmer prepares his fields. New seeds were carefully placed in the holes we’d poked into the freshly turned earth then gently covered just so. The little plants started a month before in peat pots were next, perfectly spaced to allow them ample room to grow and mature.

Sitting there now gazing over the land, I imagined the bounty our family would enjoy. Carefully canned or frozen and neatly labeled, the variety of food we’d produce would help sustain us over thecoming winter.

“We’d better put something out there.” My husband, who came from a long line of farmers, had made the suggestion as the green shoots and young leaves began to flourish. “Keep out the rabbits.”

He’d gone on to detail how his grandmother, he explained, sprinkled various unknown substances around her garden’s edge. Scarecrows, decked out in patch riddled jeans andfrayed flannel shirts and a once favorite straw hat stood in silent vigil over his Grandpa’sthriving fields. All with a common goal, to stop the crafty foliage robbers in their tracks.

That got me thinking. Our own drastic measures might be necessary to combat this unscrupulous menace. Then another thought struck. For us, I reasoned, things were different. We had no need for such elaborate defenses. Patrolling our carefully tilled garden patch was our own man’s best friend and all around good dog, Jason. If there ever was a capable ‘rabbit deterrent’, it was he. Born of mixed heritage, Airedale and Hound among them, he had the best traits of hunter and herder. Jason wouldn’t stand for an intrusion on his turf. We had a weapon no critter in its right mind would dare to challenge…or so I thought.

There was no way of knowing at the time, but my dog believed very strongly in peaceful coexistence.

As I proudly surveyed the beginnings of our garden that day, something beige that appeared at its back corner caught my eye. On a closer look, my worst fear became a reality. A rabbit! In our garden! Contentedly chomping on the young and tender sprouts!

With ravenous abandon, no less, and absolutely no regard for the sweat and toil that went into producing them. Leaping to my feet, I began to call loudly for Jason. After a number bellows, he appeared at the sliding glass door looking slightly perturbed at being so rudely summoned.

“There’s a rabbit in the garden! There’s a rabbit in the garden!” I opened the door for him, confident he would instinctively know what to do.

“There’s a rabbit in the garden! There’s a rabbit in the garden!” I continued my rant, not sure if I sounded more like Paul Revere or Chicken Little. I could tell by the dog’s wary expression he couldn’t decide either.

Apparently convinced that he would have no rest until he at least investigated, Jason stepped cautiously forward across the deck and started down the stairs. From behind, I remained in hot pursuit, arms flailing.

“Sic ‘em!” I hollered, with all the confidence of a General in command of a top-notch platoon.

Rising to the challenge, or so I thought, Jason strolled to the middle of yard, looked first at me behind him, then at the rabbit in front of him and made a valiant attempt to slip back toward the house. Being quickly thwarted in that maneuver when I blocked his way, he calmly sat down to contemplate his next move.

“Get ‘em!” I gave the order in my most commanding voice.

Straddling his bulk, Jason was house pet, after all, I hefted the reluctant canine up with my arms around his chest and aimed him toward the enemy.

Giving me a self-righteous, ‘no rest for the weary’ backward glance, he dutifully meandered forward until he reached the perimeter of our garden.

Ready to strike! That had to be it, I reasoned.

The wayward thought vanished as I watched my trusty dog, suppressing a yawn, lower himself to a prone position then roll slowly to one side and settle his head onto the soft grass.

With my ally as much as gone over to the other side, I took it upon myself to bark and growl at the offending rodent. My taking control of the situation seemed to suit Jason just fine as he contentedly closed his eyes and began to catch his first nap of the day.

Oh, the rabbit? He left quietly. After eating his fill. Or maybe he was just tired of all the noise and commotion.

In the end, we cultivated more than enough food for ourselves. Turns out we had plenty to share.

Which made me think.

Jason, with his apparent philosophy of peaceful coexistence, knew something I didn’t.

But needed to learn.

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