There must have been some very frisky bunnies around the neighbourhood as we are now overrun with baby bunnies, teenage bunnies and big, fat adult bunnies. They are fat due to chowing down on the neighbourhood gardens. Apparently they like daisies, tulips, Echinacea, heuchera, Rudbeckia and coleus to mention a few of the plants nibbled on in my garden. My neighbours are all experiencing loss of plants to the little rascals. One aggressive adult rabbit pulled down on a branch of a lilac and broke it off.
Having so many rabbits in the yard triggered several memories; one in particular, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter. I went searching the book shelves and sure enough I still have a copy of the story, so I settled down to read the story once again. It is a short read as it is designed for young minds. Potter originally created Peter to cheer up a sick child. She wrote him a story letter with accompanying illustrations. Peter first appeared in 1902 in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. He was a mischievous little bunny who disobeyed his mother’s warnings and entered the garden of Mr. McGregor. When I read of Mr. McGregor chasing Peter I chuckled as it reminded me of the days when my two oldest grandsons would chase the rabbits out of my garden, with the promise that they could keep any rabbits they captured. Needless to say no rabbits were injured or caught. A few years later one of my granddaughters asked if they caught two could they keep both, of course.
Fast forward to a new neighbourhood and I looked out the window to see the grandson of a neighbour chasing a rabbit across our lawn. I guess chasing rabbits never gets old. He too was unable to capture a rabbit.
Desperate to deter all these “Peter Rabbits” from destroying our gardens I tried yelling at them, chasing them myself with a broom and even telling them that I know how to cook rabbit and they are quite tasty. They ignored it all. After more research on how to stop these gregarious, plant-eating mammals from raiding the garden I found a safe, friendly method. I planted marigolds among my other plants. Apparently the smell of this flower is repugnant to rabbits. What a great solution; safe and cheap and as a bonus the bright colours look cheery in the garden. My plants have been stunted and may not achieve their true potential this summer but will live to bloom another day.
The day has finally arrived. The date that the sale of our beloved house in the woods is closing. New owners will take charge of the woods and gardens. I expected to leave it for one last time in tears but found that we have created many great memories to take away with us. There are the Thanksgiving Dinners, Christmas Dinners, Eggnog Parties and small intimate dinners with family and friends. Also we watched grandchildren chase, in vain, the rabbits in hope that they could catch one and take it home. We had campfires in the backyard and roasted wieners and marshmallows.
Wildlife that entertained us throughout the seasons will never be forgotten. There was the otter that had his own icy slide into the water, the doe that gave birth just off the back yard and the partridge who laid her eggs in the woods.
The gardens developed over sixteen years gave much pleasure but caused work too great to continue. I hope that the new caretakers of this little property enjoy all the lovely yellow daffodils that will pop up next spring in the front woods. Each year I added more bulbs in the fall and the display was grand last spring with yellow and white heads bobbing in the breeze.
I will miss the rabbits and secretly hope that they too will miss our little conversations each morning. They would sit along the driveway; just far enough to be out of reach but still close. I would walk parallel to their location, stop and in a low voice ask them about their plans for the day. Continually I would admonish them that the gardens were off-limits but to help themselves to the clover.
Snowy days in front of the wood fireplace with a good book and a glass of wine will be replaced by snowy days with a good book, a glass of wine and the heat of our gas furnace. The aesthetics is lost but also the back-breaking and dirty work of carrying firewood and later cleaning the ashes out of the fireplace.
We are settled into the new house and feel at home. This will be a place to create new memories. Family Christmas is going to be held here and it will be the start of many more family gatherings. We have already started flower beds, albeit on a smaller scale and the lawn can be cut in a half hour rather than a two-hour project.
Speaking of memories we already have one that began as a bad moment and now we can laugh and share the story with friends and family. Furniture from one house does not always translate well into the space of another home. Such was the case with our antique professors desk. Its first home was the living room but after thinking about it overnight I declared that the livingroom was not working so the couch and entertainment unit were moved and the desk was relegated to the spare room as a temporary office space. The movers had stated that the desk would not fit down the stairs and had to find a home on the main floor. The ‘old guy’ did some measurements and announced that it would fit. Assisted by one of our sons-in-law they tilted and turned the desk and began the trek to the basement. I was in the den when called to the stairwell. Our son-in-law had a deer in the head-lights look and the ‘old guy’ was on the other side of the desk which was solidly lodged in the stairwell. I turned and walked away returning to the den. Soon the sound of a saw could be heard. Yes, the ‘old guy’ was cutting off the ball feet of the desk. This approximately 3 inch difference allowed them to move the desk to the basement. What was left behind was gouges and scratches on the walls and saw dust. Our daughter walked down to view the damage and looked her Dad in the eye, ‘you are going to fix this? right?………..NOW’ she said. Dry wall mud and paint soon had the wall restored to its original glory and the desk which was not level before had now been made level.
With the pressure of maintaining two homes removed ‘the old guy’ and I look forward to many more happy memories in our new home and neighbourhood. Hopefully these memories will not require the use of drywall mud and paint.
Now that the old guy and I have decided to sell our home in the woods and move into town I have been prompted with many memories from the fifteen years here.
We are both retired and encountered health issues over the past year. A quadruple bypass followed by a heart attack for him and arthritis for me has dictated the move. It is too much work for us to maintain all the gardens and cut two acres of grass. Grass cutting does not sound like a big job but being surrounded by trees there is a constant need to groom the area for fallen twigs and branches. That being said we will be heart broken when we move.
Our grandchildren have been able to enjoy nature with us. There are nine in total and they present an abundance of joy and entertainment. Not only do they enjoy checking out the garden, notice I said checking out, not helping out, they love the wild life. One of the highlights over the past fifteen years has been the rabbits which inhabit our property. These rabbits wander around the yard as if it is their own private garden. During the early years I planted a lovely toad lily in the perennial bed and by the time I had returned the tools to the shed it had been eaten off by the rabbits. I devised a plan to rid ourselves of these critters without actually hurting them. I told the grandchildren that they could keep any rabbits they caught. As one batch of grandchildren figured out the ploy there would be a younger group ready to take on the challenge. I was recently asked by Grace and Amelia if they could have two rabbits and of course I agreed.
One of the funniest memories was watching a rabbit race across the lawn and driveway followed by first one cousin and then the second one waving a long stick. They were determined to catch a rabbit. To date no rabbits have been hurt or caught but I think the chasing by the grandchildren has had its affect on them. Today I can walk up the driveway and the rabbits sit a few feet away and watch closely. I stop and talk with them telling them they can eat all the clover in the lawn that they can hold but to stay out of my garden. My garden is left unharmed by them and they grow fat eating the clover. It has reached a point now that the grandchildren can walk with me and by never walking directly towards the rabbits they too can talk to them.
As we pack and prepare to leave our home in the woods we will take many memories with us.