And Then an Herbivore Lived on Our Lawn

I used to live in an old farmhouse on a major commuting road. Cars sped by our house daily, rushing to the shopping plaza, or into the city for work. We never had much privacy—friends who knew we lived there regularly reported anything funny they saw going on. For instance, our black Lab liked to sit on the roof of our Nissan when we were away for the day. If someone came to visit when we weren’t home, we heard about it. And people told us how rambunctiously the dogs chased each other around the yard.

One spring, a little grey bunny showed up in our yard. Friends would say, “Do you know you have a rabbit living on your front lawn?” “Yes,” we’d respond, “Our son D. named her Carrot.” Carrot seemed to like living under our pine trees. D., who was only four at the time, sprinkled bagged lettuce on the lawn for her, and we put out a bowl of water and pellets. He used to try to get her to hop over to him, but mostly, she just ran away. Like any good rabbit, she was skittish. But it was odd to have a wild bunny living in our yard because we lived in such a busy semi-commercial area. So I looked up in Animal Speak what rabbit means in Native American traditions. I was curious as to whether Carrot had some message for us.

Ted Andrews said in the book that rabbit is connected to the tide of movement in life. They are indicative of the lunar cycle, and the ability to move by leaps and hops. If rabbit shows up, it may indicate a need to do more planning or to check plans you already have in motion. He also said we can learn from rabbits how to make sudden shifts—such as moving from being still to being at great speed—in order to take advantage of opportunities that might only be only available to us briefly. When rabbit appears, it often means a cycle of 28 days of something new starting in life.

Our mutts used to like to chase Carrot, and she became skilled at avoiding them—she could disappear inside a bush like lightning. But we worried about her—the cars used to speed by so fast. One morning, from the bedroom window, we spotted a dark shape in the middle of the road. It wasn’t moving.

“It doesn’t look so good for Carrot,” D’s dad said. I was distressed—how would we tell our little kid about this? We picked up Carrot’s body and quietly placed her in an Adidas shoebox before D. would see.

Carrot graced our lawn for just about 28 days. I never counted exactly, but it was about a month. I’m still not sure why she showed up. Some might say, Sometimes, a bunny is just a bunny. But when I look back now on that time in my life, it certainly was as fleeting as a rabbit. Eventually, we had to just tell D. that Carrot must have simply decided to hop on.