Saturday, May 16, 2009

An Unexpected Kiss

It was not supposed to be a beautiful day, but the rain managed to pass overhead while we slept, leaving a wide blue sky in its wake. The sound of the drops striking the window and dripping off the roof to slap against the cars and the cement below kept us in bed long after we should have gotten up. By the time the cats, curled in their three familiar places, allowed me to stretch and slip my feet out from under the covers the rain had drifted eastward and the morning mist was just melting off in the thin, cautious sunshine.

As I stumbled down the hall into the kitchen for my morning tea I couldn't help but notice that Spring, slow and bashful this year, had exploded in a frenzy right outside my window. The tree which sits even with my desk and whose branches have offered the birds a lovely perch has erupted in wide green leaves, full and new and not yet inclined to droop with summer's weight. They are young and reflect the light, golden and delicate, not yet fierce, more truthfully than any mirror. Olive has taken to sitting on the sill in the tall window to watch the little brown birds, or the dark ones with the red swatch on the tips of their wings, humming and cooing to them, trying her hardest to whistle at them, lure them somehow through the screen and onto her whiskers where she promises to let them perch.

Not knowing how long the sun would last I turned the red tea kettle on low, leashed up Dunc and took him to the park, crossing under the three giant cottonwoods, barely green and still mostly gray but magnificent nonetheless. The park had filled up with the Saturday soccer throngs so we took the back way around to the management office where Duncan surprised the bunnies earlier this week. It's become his new favorite spot, shaded and cool, nestled as it is against Rebel Hill.

The bunnies were out again this morning, three of them, their tiny backs rising out of the grass like furry mushroom caps. Duncan spotted them a long way off but neither of us kept our eyes on them for long. Almost immediately a rather gangly doe scampered zig zags down the hill in our direction, bounding over the little ones and sending them running for cover amid the downed soccer goal posts and discarded street lamps. She paused only a moment at the edge of the lane directly across from us, sniffed the lilac-scented air and hopped forward.

I tightened my grip on Duncan's leash and moved in closer to him as his body tensed, pressing my thigh against his ribs where I could feel his every movement. His eyes trained on the advancing rabbit, who either did not see us or did not care we were there. Duncan leaned slowly forward as she moved within range, his tongue slipping into his mouth while he held his breath. Still she came, passing to our left, a foot away, her ears up, her body far more relaxed than I've seen from a rabbit so close.

Duncan was stone. I was stone. The rabbit, however, was not. While we stood motionless and as silent as statuary, she stopped, looked at us and blinked, sat back on her hind legs, leaned forward, paws dangling limply at her billowy white chest, and touched her nose to Duncan's. The world stopped, the traffic on Bowles and in the parking lot fell silent, as did the noise of the soccer drones and the four games of baseball coming from the diamonds. Even the breeze fell dead at my feet as all the morning's sunlight focused on that single spot at the joining of their noses.

And then it was over, as though some spark drove them apart even as it drove the world back into motion. Duncan lunged, she jerked, skidded one way then the other and then darted around the side of the building, her body lean and taut, her ears flat against her back. Duncan's mouth fell open as he took a great galumph of air and pulled me in her direction. I dug in my heels and pulled back on the leash until he stopped and sat hard in the pine needles all around us, his tail swishing through and scattering them.

I knelt down and touched my nose to his, the place where they had kissed, he and the rabbit, looked into his eyes and wondered if she had seen what I have always seen: innocence and joy, delight and gratitude for the unexpected, a profound appreciation for all the surprises life throws our way. No wonder she could not resist him. Not many can.


David said...

Here we are, we humans, in the midst of all the nonsense we contrive, while the most basic of beautiful truths must be taught to us by our animal companions, both the ones who share our homes, and those that share our world. My morning coffee time was especially beautiful today, Curt. Thank you, and thank the bunny and the whiskered owl, Olive, and scritches to Duncan.

Greg said...

You paint such a delightful picture of your world, my friend; the bunny kiss could almost be anticlimatic.

I'm so happy that Spring has found you, out the window, in the meadow, in those sweet and unexpected bunny kisses.