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  • We recently decided to expand our small tomato-and-cuc garden, to twice it's size. It involved sacrificing the old sandbox that once was next to it. Now, our garden bears all the classics- Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, maybe some herbs.
    Just as the we were getting some juvenile vegetables growing a bunny moved in right across the walkway. It had seen it's chance at an all-you-can-eat buffet and it wasn't stupid- you would settle down next door to an all-you can-eat restaurant (or garden buffet) if you were a bunny too. We didn't think much of it at first. I begged my parents not to chase it away. It might be a mother just about to have bunny babies. I badly wanted a nest of bunny babies in my back yard.
    Some people despise bunnies. And squirrels. And any other creature that will mess with their gardens. Some people let their cats and dogs keep down the culprit population. Some people lie in the grass with rifles and shoot anything that moves (or maybe not). We sat tight and worried once in a while. Well, parents worry. I am excited to have any sort of furry wildlife near by.
    The rabbit- beginning to go by 'the Bunster'- has broken in to the garden exactly once, that we know of. We saw one rabbit leave the scene, and we saw more then one mangled-looking plant with more then a few missing limbs. Mom was very upset about the damage, being a motherly garden owner.
    Interestingly, we found no hole the Bunster could have dug, a sneaky little-and unauthorized- entrance to paradise. And bunnies don't climb, as far as I know of. I couldn't image Bunster climbing so much as a three foot plastic fence around a garden.
    When we left for Vermont for five days, Mom was freaked out --okay, nervous-- that something-- most likely the bunny-- would devour her garden while we were gone. It had all the power to do so. Yet when we returned, the garden was perfectly intact, and no bunny appeared for days. Had Bunster moved away? Been eaten? Did she/he not feel that eating the garden was worthwhile without an audience? Either way, I was slightly disappointed. Somebunny out there was in debt by a couple of bunny babies.
    Until today. No, no bunny babies; but something else. Drawing me outside of the cool house today was a desire to go lemon shopping, and make (well, duh, what else?) lemonade and maybe make some cash. Then I noticed something dark brownish lurk on the far side of the garden. My mind raced through possibilities. An animal. Neighbor's cat? Pretty small cat. Fox? Heck, if it's too small for a cat then by golly, definitely not a fox. Otter? They live by water, dummy. Bunny? Yeah, most likely that. Of course, I went to see, without a moment spared; and my mind registered that there were in fact two somethings there, as they both scattered. The first thing to dash away in alarm was definitely a rabbit. I was intrigued to go chase it, but then I was conscious of another brown animal crawling up the inner side of the garden fence. It wasn't any bigger then a bunny, but had different features and the ability to climb fences, apparently. I knew instantly what it was.
    Woodchuck!
    I'd seen this mysterious visitor only once before, near the bunny den, until it had seen me and turned around and lumbered into the forest. Now the bunny and Woodchuck were together in the same place.... what was this? Some rodent conspiracy? Anyway, one thing was for sure, they both wanted a piece of our garden. I was only a foot away from the groundhog as it clambered down the fence and tried to get it's fat tail out of there as fast as it could-which wasn't very fast- and I herded it away just to make sure it would get the message. It's fur was bristly and seemed tipped with grey.. I'd never been this close the a wild animal before, besides maybe that squirrel....anyway, I don't know why I didn't pounce on the woodchuck. I know I wanted to. I've always wanted to. But something about that clumsy old hog kept me at bay. Maybe my conscience told me that I'd prefer not to get into a fight with a woodchuck. It was probably right; The last thing I needed was an infected bite.
    Still, I hope the sight of that Woodchuck lumbering into the woods is not the last I will see of it. I regret not pouncing. But if somehow that whole scene replays again, I don't think I'd act then either. It's a matter of the moment. Not a matter of prior planning, nor afterward banging of your head on a wall. Either way, seeing the woodchuck-and the bunny- definitely made my not-so-active day.
    Later today my cat also alerted me to something just on the other side of the window. I peered through to see a bunny looking up at the window with a twitching nose. Meh. Guess that's as close as indoor cats get to there prey (unless you've got mice in your basement). Then, scurrying straight past the rabbit I saw a little dark-furred creature. Mouse! A new rodent to join the conspiracy. The Bunny, on the other hand, didn't even look; though it must have heard the mouse, I mean, me with my puny ears could hear the scurrying and squeaking plain as day! That bugs me. Animals go by each other all the time like old friends. Even those completely unrelated, like crows and raccoons. But we as humans are cut of from the rest of the natural world, from the rest of the animal kingdom. As soon as one of us appears over the horizon, the animals scatter. I don't like it. Is it because we're big? Elephants have little birds cleaning their backs all the time. So what's so repelling about us, eh?!
    Well, almost on instinct, I skidded for the back door, threw on shoes, and sprinted to the place I'd see the mouse.
    Of course, no mouse in sight. A bunny, which was soon gone, but no mouse. They're there and then their not. I should have stayed and studied it from the window. I barely got a glimpse of it; and did I really think I could catch it? I overestimate myself. Though I do enjoy the thrill of a harmless hunt.
    I told mom about the mouse, and as I'd expected, she only ranted about how it better not get in the basement. Where she sees trouble, I see opportunity. But who knows; if I ever get a rodent infestation in my own house one day, I might not be so optimistic about seeing a single one of them lil' weasels.
    I've just had an unusual amount of encounters with wildlife today, and I barely went outside! It just reminds me that nature and her little scouts are always around, and they thrive, even here, in this urban setting. Whether you want them to or not.
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