Welcome to The Rabbit Hole, a blog by author Bob Berry. Peace be with you!
When I was perhaps 9 years old, I woke up one Easter morning in my family’s mobile home, which was parked near the old family farm house in Embden, Maine. My parents had amped us up a bit the night before. Something special was coming this Easter.
I shared a small room with my brother. The bunk beds creaked as I climbed to the head of the top bunk, leaning over to peer down the long narrow hallway.
There was something at the other end of the hall. Something small, with tall ears. Was that the Easter Bunny?
I rolled out of bed at what I’m sure was an un-Godly early hour. Of course, I woke up my brother at the same time. We both ran down the hallway, dodging dark little pellets strewn all over the shag carpet. The rabbit, of course, jumped once and disappeared into our small living room.
In those early days, my folks slept on the fold-out couch. My father, a natural early riser, had not gotten up yet. He glared out of one eye. I could tell it was a glare by the angry eyebrow.
My brother caught sight of another rabbit and shouted. Both my parents were awake now and grinning at our excitement. The shout woke up my sister and startled other rabbits, which took off in all directions in the confined space.
After much scrambling, cajoling in high pitched tones, and carrots as bait, we finally caught the three rabbits my parents set free in the trailer the night before. Two were white and one black. My sister, brother, and I were thrilled at our new pets. Our 120 pound yard dog, not so much.
These pets were sconced away in a rabbit hutch, temporarily set up in the circa 1850 barn. Later that spring, the hutch was moved to the lawn. A chicken-wire pen, complete with sides and ceiling, was built around a simple wooden frame. The rabbits could eat grass but be safe from the predators normal to our rural woods. Good thing, because now we had a dozen rabbits. They did what rabbits, ahem, do.
As time went on, the rabbits ate all the grass. Then they started digging. Rabbits dig holes. They dig big ones. A hole was dug, disappearing into darkness amidst the roots and stones. Months later, rabbits were loose all over the farm! A new hole popped up nearly one hundred feet from the hutch. The rabbits were free!
I filled in the hole on both ends. That lasted a day, and they were free again.
My grandfather, the wisest man I have ever known, told me the only way was to dig up the entire hole and fill it all in. Note, I have no idea if he was right, but he succeeded in keeping me out of trouble for awhile.
I started in the pen at the hole entrance, determined to find the entire tunnel network and fill it all in. This is when I discovered that rabbits dig deep. When I hit my first branch some four feet down and twenty feet outside the pen, I gave up. I would have dug up the whole yard!
Our interest moved on quickly, as they do with most kids. There were new kittens before long, and our big yard dog broke another chain. A moose walked through the dooryard. The pigs kept getting free. Many books describe life on a rural farm as slow and boring, but I never found it so while growing up. Life on a farm in the woods is never-ending adventure to a boy young at heart!
Wild rabbits in Maine are actually snowshoe hares. They’re brown in the summer and white in the winter. But for years around our farm, the wild rabbits we saw were mottled black, white, and brown, all year ’round.
This blog will be like that rabbit hole. It will cover a large area through the unknowns. It will be sometimes at the surface, and sometimes very deep. And if you read it, you’ll be entertained, edified, and just maybe kept out of trouble.
Until next time, Bob<