I thought we’d have a campfire with S’mores tonight. Josh and Helaman had a church activity, Liv and Mer are away at girl’s camp, why not treat the remaining kids to a little recreation?
It’s been raining here everyday for the past two weeks so the tree branch cuttings we placed in the fire pit weeks ago were thoroughly soaked. I started dryer lint as tinder but when I realized I needed kindling (happens every time), I grabbed Helaman’s old school papers. Sophia and Juliette helped me feed the papers into the fire pit while Hunter circled us, detailing his plans for turning us into crime-fighting superheroes. After about 10 minutes, I asked him to tell his plans to Rosalyn, explaining that my mental capacity was shot for the day.
The fire came along slowly but once I got a few 1-inch branches going, I was ready to head into the house to fetch graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. I stood up to go and a sudden flash of fur caught my eye. Sophia noticed immediately, too. Something larger than a mouse was running along the inside of the fire pit. What could this thing be? It huddled into the cinder block wall, facing away from me.
Sophia called, “It’s a bunny!”
A baby bunny, about 3.5 inches long, was trying to escape the inferno I created! My stomach fell as I considered I was about to watch this little creature burn alive while my children and I watched.
I ran to the edge of the fire pit where the bunny huddled and started heaving out cinder blocks with my bare hands. This had the shocking effect of scaring the baby bunny into the other side of the fire pit, where live coals and ashes still smoked! What living creature runs into a fire? Apparently baby bunnies!
I tore down the cinder blocks as fast as I could while I watched the bunny desperately try to wedge itself through the wall above the fiery ashes. Maybe it was just trying to keep it’s paws off the burning earth. There was no gap big enough for it to squeeze through. Sophia ran round screaming she couldn’t watch it, so naturally all the kids came to see the matter. I moved the last level of cinder block and fairly leapt over to the fiery side of the circle. I used a long stick to tap the earth just behind the bunny’s rump. It took off, and, finding a convenient exit, made a marvelous escape, bouncing away under the shelter of nearby evergreens.
Sigh. Of. Relief.
We saved the bunny! There was much rejoicing.
I rebuilt the cinder wall I’d demolished while we congratulated ourselves. Hunter claimed all the credit since he was the only one who thought to pray during the crisis.
We figured the mama bunny was big enough to jump in and out of the fire pit, but the baby was still too small to escape.
My appetite for
S’mores anything was long gone, but a little bunny’s life was saved and my children weren’t traumatized. I moved more of the branch clippings over and into the fire smoldering on one side of the pit. Might as well burn the rest now. Curious that it was a lone baby bunny. Bunnies don’t usually arrive as singles. Well, maybe it had fallen into the fire pit. . .
It was surreal the way the pine needles lying in the center of the fire pit seemed to be moving. Was smoke playing tricks on me? I walked around the outside of the ring to get a different vantage point.
Without even a blur, another baby bunny materialized against the interior wall of the fire pit, pressing itself up against the wall I’d just replaced.
I started tearing the wall down where I stood, then ran to the spot where bunny #2 jumped feebly, and began tearing it down there. The bunny ran along the inside until it found the far escape route, hopped out, and bounded down the grassy slope, out of sight.
I hadn’t seen where that bunny came from, but I had a hunch. I gently prodded the spot where the pine needles had been moving moments earlier. Two more bunnies emerged, each one running around and out toward the grassy hillside. My stomach flip-flopped as they passed through the ashes at the base of a still-burning fire. I was surprised at how physically affected I was watching their close calls.
I told Hunter to track the last bunny and it stopped under the new apple sapling we planted a month ago. It didn’t move. It seemed to be in shock.
Sophia decided it was in grave danger from: our cats (they are great mousers), our neighborhood bear that has been recently visiting our trash cans, and birds of prey. She had a plan: we’d better keep it!
I relented quickly and sent the kids to the van to retrieve the hamster cage I loaded yesterday among Goodwill donations. I ran inside to check the internet for information on what we’d need to keep this little creature alive. The best website I found in a hurry was http://www.wildrescuetexas.org/wildrabbit.html.
Based on it’s size, it was probably 9-10 days old and still needed mother’s milk and care. If it were only a few days older, it might get by eating timothy hay and other greens. But not today.
Mama bunny should return after dark to check on and nurse her little ones. We determined to re-nest it in the fire pit after extinguishing the flames.
Hunter and Sophia doused the fire and then Sophia gently scooped up the bunny and carried it back to the fire pit in a bucket. She cuddled it until it stopped shaking and placed it in a safe spot inside the cinder blocks. We waited nearby for a few minutes and then decided the mother would feel most comfortable approaching if we were out of sight. We went inside the house.
We checked the fire pit around 9:40pm and the baby bunny was gone. We’re confident Mama moved that little baby bunny to a safer spot. Hopefully the others made their way back to Mama, too.
Sigh. Of. Relief.