I planted the sunflowers for me, and also for passers-by, but it seems that the creature most enjoying them is a wild rabbit. It’s there in the morning for a couple of hours and then later in the afternoon, resting in the shade.
It seems to have its own spot: a bare patch of dirt among the stalks and leftover lawn. I’ve seen the rabbit stretch its length and roll a bit on its bed, so I guess it has created that bare patch, worn it down in the same way we humans wear down a path: thoughtlessly.
The rabbit no longer seems paralyzed and wary when it sees us watching it. Sometimes, the rabbit turns and looks at us. Other times, it stretches and rolls on the dirt. The children stand quietly and look. Jimmy waits to run the mower until mid-afternoon, when the rabbit is out. I showed the rabbit to an older couple who go often to services at the temple across the street; she always wears green as her signature, and he always drives their car. They stood with me on the sidewalk and looked in, delighted. We spoke in low voices, as though a new baby was sleeping there under the sunflowers.
I had hoped my sunflowers would attract hummingbirds and butterflies. So far, there have been many bees and one butterfly. The rabbit is the most frequent visitor.
Scratch that. The rabbit may be its resident, splitting its time between the sunflower patch and a nest or burrow somewhere else in the yard or neighborhood.
I frequently see it, with another rabbit, hopping across our backyard and through our neighbors’ yards. (Rabbits are social, I learned when I chaperoned a field trip to the MSPCA shelter in Boston. If you keep a rabbit for a pet, it’s really better to have two, because they like company.)
There are downsides to human and wild animals living so closely. Raccoons in the trash. Squirrels in the attic. Chipmunks in their little holes in the lawn. Deer in the tomatoes. Rats in the basement, as I know too well. Roadkill, roadkill, roadkill.
What if there were ways to make our sharing of the urban and suburban space more peaceful? Room for us, room for them.
I did not intend to attract rabbits to my front yard and make a little patio for them. But, now that one is there, I wonder if the chief function of the sunflower patch, which I planted, is not for my pleasure, which I intended, but for a wild creature’s comfort.