A bit of magic came hopping into our lives last summer. Black Magic. Furry Black Magic. I didn't know much about rabbits then, but I knew that she was special. She wasn't a wild rabbit, but whether she had escaped by choice or someone had just dumped her, she was free and had been surviving on her own.
And one day she came to our place and she stayed. First she tried living under the watering trough. I thought, "She's just passing through, she won't be here tomorrow." But she was. The cats were aggressive and tried to chase her down, and I thought "She's going to get caught by one of those cats." But she didn't. For a while she took to resting under people's cars, and I thought "How ironic if she were to get run over by a car all the way out in the middle of nowhere." But she didn't. She would hop out into the corral and wander amongst the horses grabbing bites of hay here and there and I thought "They're not going to see her, they're going to step on her." But they didn't.
I thought, "If she survives, if she stays a month, then I'll name her Endee (N.D.) because she's No Dumb Bunny." And she did. And I did.
She moved her residence to under the hay shed. As summer passed into fall she finally began to eat some of the things we would leave out for her. She didn't much like rabbit food, but she was fond of apples, bread and carrots. One day during a rainstorm I built a shelter for her food dish out of an apple box and a few cedar shakes. She must have liked it because soon she was using it as shelter from the rain, shelter from the sun, a place of sanctity from which to view the world.
All through winter we lived our parallel lives. The cats accepted her presence and pretty much quit chasing her. She accepted our presence, but we couldn't touch her. I worried about her as the weather got colder. She would show up with frost all over her ears that looked so fragile, and I would think, "My God she's going to get frostbite and her ears are going to fall off." But they didn't. When the deepest part of winter came and everything was frozen, I tried leaving water out for her, but she wouldn't touch it and it would freeze up solid, and I thought "She's going to dehydrate and die because there's no water." But she survived.
Spring arrived and she began eating new things that were starting to grow. One of her favorites was my strawberry plants. I watched her sample things she should not have eaten like rhododendron leaves and rhubarb leaves and I thought "She's going to poison herself." But she didn't.
And one day she let me touch her. She relaxed under my hand and let herself be petted. When the cats saw that, it was as if they accepted her as a family member, they came and made formal acquaintance and from then on she would chase after them more than they would chase after her. It was like a ray of sunshine had beamed into my life. Nothing was holding her here, and yet she stayed. What she found with us was enough to keep her here and she accepted our love freely. She would hop in front of the wheelbarrow so I had to stop and then come around and wait to be petted. Something about the sight of that rabbit coming to me—to me—from clear across the yard grabbed a hold of a piece of my soul.
She ate my primroses. She ate my strawberries. She would sit up as far as she could reach and eat the leaves and blossoms off my blueberry plants. She followed behind me while I was weeding the newly sprouted peas and ate them. Somehow, I didn't care.
She wandered some. We would see her out in the pasture or part way down the driveway. One day she wandered well away from our place to a home with dogs who chased her under the house and she had to be rescued. When I brought her home, I was in a quandary about whether we should take away her freedom and cage her for her own protection. I left her in the barn while I tried to figure out what to do. Within about fifteen minutes she had dug her way out of the barn and was flopped down in front of her feeder.
We didn't cage her. We didn't pen her. Maybe we put our own values into making a decision about what she would want, but her freedom seemed to be such an essential part of what she was. And one day she went back to the house with the dogs. No one was there to rescue her this time. And now it feels like there is a hole in my soul. A little piece of magic is gone out of my life and won't ever return.