Groundhog Day

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I have never seen as many rabbits in all the time I have lived in Nashua as I have in the past two years.  I mostly see them early in the morning and at dusk, which is normal for crepuscular animals.  I watch them hop around our wildly overgrown yard and think “they’re so cute.”  And they are.  

They are also numerous. One morning I saw four.  So did Rilian. It took a lot to restrain him from going and doing his own headcount.  The problem was, while I was pulling back on his leash and yelling, “Stop!” the rabbits froze in place, as is customary for some prey animals when they sense a predator nearby.  I ended up dragging Rilian into the house and when I came back outside, the rabbits were back to eating clover.

Rilian’s presence has not dissuaded the bunnies from adopting our yard as the Leporidae clubhouse. They continue to frolic in the yard, which is not smart of them, because the animal for them to be afraid of in the yard is the cat, Anubis.

Anubis is – and there is no polite way to say this – a killer.  He was a feral kitten, born on the mean streets in Lowell (I got him at the Lowell Humane Society), and once he escaped from the cat carrier, we did not see him for days.  He would dart out occasionally to grab some kitten chow, and run back to wherever he was hiding. And since there are a lot of places to hide in this house, especially for something as small as a kitten, this went on until he decided we were worthy of his trust.  Or at least worthy of feeding him.

Anubis and I can best be described as frenemies.  He adores Lucy and will let her pick him up and cuddle him.  Me?  I never pick him up unless he explicitly asks me to, by doing something truly annoying, like walking across my laptop as I am using it or jumping onto a counter when I am assembling a tuna sandwich. Mostly, we exist in a state of detente: he lets me think I am in charge until he decides that I am getting a little bit too big for my britches, and he decides to launch a sneak attack.  This mostly consists of him jumping on the back of my desk chair while I am writing. I never hear him coming for me, and I jump mightily and say words that even I am surprised to hear come from my mouth.

Once my heart has stopped racing, I go let the cat out.  Because that’s the only reason he visits me.

The rabbits never seem to catch on that there’s a cat here.  I have watched Anubis stalk a rabbit from the porch.  He sits on the rail and watches and waits, and just when he’s ready to pounce, I slam the back door.  I know the old saying, “nature is red in tooth and claw,” but I have no interest in personally witnessing it. The cat turns and gives me a stare, but he still goes after the rabbits.  Or pretends to.  But we both know I have helped them escape.

Lately, I thought there was a giant rabbit in the yard.  I kept seeing a brown something done by the car, and one day Rilian would not stop circling the car.  I assumed the thing under the car was a rabbit, because that’s what usually is under the car.  But the other day, when Lucy and I came back from some shopping, she said “Look!” and sitting next to the car, calming munching some grass, was the biggest groundhog I have ever seen.

We got out of the car and it ignored us, until we started walking down the driveway towards it.  Then it took off. When I came home from work today, Anubis was circling the car, which had me concerned.

I am not really sure who I am concerned for the most.  Anubis has taken out truly big squirrels, and Lucy has grabbed a baby bunny out of his mouth.  He greeted me one day last week with a chipmunk in his mouth, which he dropped when Lucy scolded him.  But a groundhog?

I’d say it’d be a pretty even match. And again, not one that I am interested in watching.


You can reach June Lemen at junelemen18@gmail.com