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Smell the Coffee: Hare wars

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's said that a man's home is his castle.

In my world, though, that sentence needs tweaked. Take out the word "man." Insert "rabbit." Then substitute "castle" with "garage."

Sometime this spring, my garage became the castle of a large wild rabbit, one determined to fight to the death to defend it. Trouble is, I didn't realize I was fighting a war until I found myself in the middle of the first skirmish.

For the record, it is my garage, not the rabbit's. I'm the one who pays the mortgage and keeps that narrow, old single bay stocked with junk. I'm not happy about the junk part, but there's this thing I used to do -- this misguided compassion for inanimate objects -- that caused my garage to become a landing place where possessions lingered while making the transition from household to trash.

I was all about pacing. There were no sudden shocks for my belongings, where one day they'd be gracing the mantel and the next, set out in shame on the curb. I was gentle about it, first moving the item from upstairs to down, then to the back part of the basement, then to the garage. The last stop before Goodwill or curb.

Time in the garage often altered the purposes of cast-off items. All flat surfaces, regardless how small, were transformed into counters. Golf clubs became shelf supports. Vases held bouquets of paintbrushes and screwdrivers. And a file cabinet with a missing bottom drawer became a makeshift cannon barrel for a rabbit with a short fuse and aggressive tendencies.

Especially when said rabbit's den was defiled by a human wielding a leaf blower.

Prior to arming myself with my unintentional weapon, I'd spent hours cleaning and de-junking the garage. I'd left the doors open all day and was in and out repeatedly, so the rabbit had ample time to vacate the premises had he wanted to leave. He apparently liked getting his house cleaned for free. It wasn't until I reached my final step that he took offense.

This final step involved using the leaf blower to remove the cobwebs and dust from the many nooks and crannies of my now less cluttered garage. Unfortunately, the first place I chose to clean happened to be occupied by a grouch. This I learned after shoving the nozzle of the blower behind an old file cabinet and turning it on.

A rocket launcher could not have propelled that rabbit toward me with greater force.

Its eyes were wild. Teeth bared.

It was coming straight for me.

The blower hit the ground as I went reeling backward, stumbling over my feet and the cord and heaven knows what else as I tried desperately to avoid experiencing what it's like to literally have a wild hare up my butt.

Too thoroughly flummoxed to see where the rabbit went, I assumed it shot out the door and into the nearby woods, except now I suspect it stayed right there, nearby. Likely chuckling for hours over what must've felt like a victorious charge.

I've fought bunnies before, but only the dust kind, not living and breathing and fur-covered and furious. I went in the house to clean myself up, and soon became so occupied by the usual distractions that I didn't get back to the garage until the following day.

Where I experienced a repeat performance of the gale-force rabbit rocket-propelled crazy hare thing from the day before. Except this time, I'm pretty sure it was going for my throat.

There was no reasoning with this hare, no coming to an understanding on sharing the space. Each time I returned to the garage, the rabbit would shoot out or knock something over and send me stumbling backward again, tensed for the impending launch of fury in fur.

Since the bunny seemed so determined to stay, I wondered if it might be a female with babies nearby, so my daughter and I searched every corner of the garage. We found no nest, but while we were looking, we accidentally trapped the big rabbit behind an angled sheet of plywood. Celeste helped me gap the board just enough that the rabbit turned away from me as it prepared to shoot through the gap. When it did, I jumped in and grabbed it.

Grabbing a large wild rabbit -- and successfully holding on to it -- is not a simple endeavor. Putting tights on a greased squid would've likely been easier, but I held tight, pulled it against me. Talked softly, shushing it, and although this sounds bizarre, I rubbed its nose, which for some reason, can hypnotize a rabbit. The big bunny soon relaxed, or perhaps it passed out. While it was calm, I checked its gender, thinking if it was female, I'd leave it be, as there could be well-hidden babies.

But it wasn't a girl. It was clearly and without doubt male. One that nature had blessed. If there were adult movies for rabbits, this boy had star potential.

Once the bunny was secured in a cat carrier, he was driven to my boyfriend's house and released in an ideal location -- a field populated with many other wild hares. Next to a neighborhood where several garages stood open.

Returning home, I was pleased the garage would be mine once again.

Except when I went in, there, in the center of the bay, was a very large and oddly familiar looking spider.

It raised two legs in the air and waved.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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