For some reason, rabbits have been hopping into my life lately. Pun intended. They’ve been running around my yard, I‘ve read about them in stories and I even had one for dinner; that’s as a meal: not a guest. The Year of the Rabbit ended back in January of 2012. The next one won’t begin until January of 2023. What’s going on?
I’ll start with the dining thing. While in Arkansas on a business trip my group and I ended up at an upscale restaurant. I’d say not to tell the boss, but he owns the bistro, too. So much for putting that one on the expense report. * Rabbit appeared on the menu. Someone told me that they’re a delicacy. My grandfather ate rabbit while fighting in Europe during the Second World War. He’s not the person who told me that. I decided to try it. After all, we only live once. At the time the possibility that eating rabbits could have something to do with that didn’t enter my mind.
They say that everything tastes like chicken. Rabbit turned out to be the exception. It wasn’t bad. I’d describe it as a combination of scallops only with a meatier taste. I like seafood and I need protein to live. It was a win-win situation.
For some reason I had the impression rabbits were smart. While dining on one I thought, if they really are smart, wouldn’t this one be eating me? I wondered why I thought them intelligent. It must have come from Hugh Hefner, of all people. Initially, he wanted to call Playboy ™ magazine Stag Party™. At the time, a hunting magazine called Stag™ claimed trademark infringement. Hef changed the name. I’ve always believed that a brilliant move on his part. Beautiful women dressed in bunny costumes are much more appealing than ladies dressed as elk. The brand wouldn’t have been quite the same. That’s not to say I spend a lot of time “studying” Playboy Bunnies as far as anyone knows. That story doesn’t have much to do with rabbits, though.
A large cotton tail became a frequent guest in my backyard this summer. Most evenings around seven she’d hop to the center of the yard. This rabbit would sit there for several minutes and then lay down. I’d watch her bask in waning light of the summer sun. Unfortunately for her, so would my dog, Cinnamon.
“Cinny” is a shorke. She’s very friendly: except to non-human visitors that intrude on her territory. One evening she noticed the rabbit. She growled, barked and scraped the sliding glass door. Not realizing how delicious rabbits were, I picked her up and took her to the back door. Since bunnies have long ears, I figured the rabbit would hear me and scamper off. I rattled the screen expecting it to leave. It simply sat up. I hit the door again as the dog barked. The rabbit didn’t move. I opened the door, figuring the thing would run. It didn’t. The rabbit just backed away a few steps.
By now I couldn’t control the dog. Cinny flailed all four of her appendages so fast she reminded me of Keith Moon during a drum solo. Much like a madman pounding the skins, she became difficult to control. I set her down. She bolted after the rabbit. It hesitated for a second before hopping off. That pause could’ve been costly. Cinny came within a hare’s length of catching her. Pun intended. I figured the rabbit dithered because of a long history outrunning predators. The more I thought about this I realized something: when it comes to avoiding its enemies, it’s only going to be wrong once. Even with a 99.9% success rate, I still wouldn’t like that average.
Maybe rabbits aren’t as smart as I thought. I re-read the old saw about the tortoise and the hare. This time I picked up Lord Dunsany’s version. It included the usual part about the rabbit going to sleep since he knew he’d beat the tortoise. (Sorry if this is a spoiler, folks.) The author did add some minor variations. At the end, he explained the reason. Very few animals survived a massive forest fire shortly after the race. Why didn’t very many escape? When the creatures noticed the blazing conflagration they sent the fastest among them to warn the others: the tortoise.
Rabbits may not be the most intelligent animal I find in my back yard. At least I hope they’re not the smartest mammal on the property while I’m standing there. They still make things interesting. I checked the Chinese calendar. This is the Year of the Horse. I hope I don’t have as many run-ins with them. At the very least, I don’t want to see them on the menus anywhere I eat.
* For the record: my employer did reimburse me for the meal. In fact, the management encouraged my group to dine there. After much deliberation I chose not to review this particular establishment as part of my Restaurant Review series. PLEASE DO NOT INTERPRET THAT NEGATIVELY. I didn’t feel I could review it objectively due to my personal ties with the management. That’s the ONLY reason I didn’t write about it on my blog.