New Life in an Old House

05 October, 2011

New Life in an Old House

My parents lived in this house for 56 years. I can’t imagine that. After 5 or 6 years I’m restless but a grey bunny has moved in to the front garden the other week, the beginning of spring. I was looking from the telly-room window and saw him/her, tucked in under the broad emerald leaves of a hydrangea. (S)he was small, a mere fist ball, spinnaker ears and well wide-eyed. (S)he picked at the close-range blades of grass and then, for no apparent reason, drew back under the shrub and disappeared.

I’ve never seen a rabbit in the garden before, although on the near-by battery there’s evidence of many. Perhaps my mother’s old cat had kept her lair clean but she died in April. But I have my dog with me and she comes in from the garden smelling of aromatics, lavender and rosemary, swept on as she ferrets through the hedges and I’d have thought her blunt hunting style would surely scare off any other tenants.

But the next morning, I saw him/her again but this time on the garden bank that rises up to the avenue. If (s)he was going to be a fixture, she had to have a name so I called her/him Peter(a) Rabbit. All sex options covered. I guess that makes me Mr McGregor, except I don’t really mind Peter(a) being there.

I see Peter(a) mainly in the morning and in the early evening, just before sunset. (S)he darts about the front garden bank, sniffs and nibbles this plant and that. One morning (s)he hopped up the stairs to the avenue and I thought (s)he was going to leave but (s)he thought the better of it and turned back to the garden. Another day she was in the middle of the side lawn, playing like a kitten, turning tight circles and angles for no other reason than ecstatic enjoyment.

I put carrot and zucchini out on the bank but they remained untouched for at least a week. Perhaps these are the wrong foods and I should look to fare such as lettuces and some French beans and then some radishes. But after years of drought, it’s been raining in Hobart and the normally yellow-grass hills on the other side of the Derwent River glow green. The house lawns are teased high by the first brush of summer, long and juicy. Why would you touch a raw carrot? And if (s)he helps keep the lawns down, they won’t need to be mown so much.

I’ve tried to take a photo but don’t have a camera with a decent lens. I’d have to get outside to get anywhere near close enough. Most sounds leave Peter(a) unaffected, the roar of a truck on the street or the noise of people on the footpath, but if I open the front door, camera in hand, the satellite-dish ears hear and in a flash (s)he’s gone.

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