Soon after moving into our new home, we discovered that our backyard is also home to at least one rabbit. For the first few weeks we had little concern for his welfare (assuming it is a buck and not a doe). There was abundant winter-dried grass available in our lawn and those of the neighbors. As December moved into the past and the polar vortex took up a seemingly permanent position, the grass disappeared under several strata of snow, sleet, and ice.
Rabbits do not hibernate. Although we did not see him for a few days at a time, we saw enough of him to be convinced that he had not perished or moved on, but we were still concerned. One day he stood like a sentinel guarding the northwest corner of the shed; a few days later he took up his post at the southeast corner near the entrance to his home under the shed.
More recently, while moving aside the latest deposit of light, fluffy snow on our paths, I noticed rabbit tracks moving from the front yard, past the gate, and across the back yard to the shed. Later I noticed that there were tracks along the wall of the shed, as if the rabbit had been looking for something there. My fear is that in moving some stones behind the shed several weeks ago I inadvertently covered an entrance to his burrow and that he has been trapped outside ever since then.
It was especially cold when I took this second photograph. I had to use binoculars to be certain that the creature that I saw at a distance was in fact our rabbit. He bore only a passing resemblance to the rabbit we had been seeing, his fur was so puffed up. Rabbit fur is a good insulator—believe I once owned a pair of rabbit-fur–lined leather gloves—but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s been unusually cold in this area since mid-January. We should be seeing temperatures in the mid-40s on a regular basis by now, but it’s barely been above freezing at all during the first half of February.
What is this rabbit eating? How is he keeping up his energy? He does not eat the English ivy that grows over several sections of the back fence. There are shrubs around the property but we haven’t seen any evidence of his gnawing at them.
Usually the rabbit is a symbol of fertility, but I’ve come to see this rabbit as a symbol of patient, even Stoic endurance. For my part, I have never known real hardship and I don’t know if I would be able to endure. God gives strength equal to the testing that we face, and I am in awe of those whom I know who have faced hardship and testing and have emerged joyful and strengthened from that testing. In what were to be his last recorded words before his execution, the Apostle Paul encouraged his young protégé, Timothy, to “keep [his] head in all situations and endure hardship.”
As we wait for the end of this long winter, let’s hold on a little bit longer, keep our heads, look out for one another, and look forward to better, warmer days ahead.
Thanks as always for stopping by.