Al Batt: If a bird can’t fly, it had better start walking

Published 9:27 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


An endless summer never is.

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It’s autumn. Summer is no longer in showroom condition. We have great falls — much better than Humpty Dumpty’s.

A friend looked for woolly bear caterpillars wearing fleece, but couldn’t find any. That means the winter is going to be so bad, they have all crawled south.

Fall is when leaves keep the Grim Reaper busy. People say you can’t see the wind. Fallen leaves moving with the wind, prove that wrong. Leaves have fallen and they can’t get up without a wind. If money grew on trees, we’d be raking it in. Leaves inspire writers. Elizabeth Lawrence wrote, “Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree,” was penned by Emily Bronte. “Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile” wrote William Cullen Bryant. Trees become paint-by-number sets or segments of an earth-sized stained-glass window.

In my boyhood, we put up storm windows in the fall, but we still got storms. Fall, a screen test for winter, is when pumpkins patch things up, my favorite color becomes October and we seek scarlet bounty as we attend something to do with corn festivals while expressing folklore such as, “The more moss on the south side of the tree the harder the coming winter will be.”

A fellow told me about the multitudes of rabbits he had in his yard. He called it a big family, adding that he knew about big families. He’d grown up in one that had so many children, the oldest was out of the house for two years before anyone noticed.

I’m not on Facebook as my wife is, but I have followers. I have an amiable rabbit that follows me around. It doesn’t accompany me into town to a tax appointment, but it gets within five feet of me in the yard. One year, a fawn insisted on shadowing me. A house wren made repeated landings on me during another year. A crafty red-tailed hawk liked my company whenever I was on a tractor. An implement’s earth-moving capabilities chased up prey for the raptor.

I like rabbits, but they do have bad habits and insist on eating things they shouldn’t just as humans do. I planted marigolds around the garden to keep rabbits from turning it into a salad bar until the rabbits ate them. Warning: Please close your eyes if reading about poop disturbs you. An outlandish habit of rabbits is they eat poop. This keeps them from dining in most finer restaurants. A cellulose rich diet isn’t easy to digest.  Rabbits eat their droppings, digesting them a second time to get the nutrients missed the first time around. This process is known as coprophagy or more commonly as eeeewww! Some politicians might drive me crazy, but I like the ones I voted for. Some bunnies annoy me, but I like my big-eared buddy.

I stumbled outside and flashed the peace sign at the rabbit in an attempt to match its ears.

The rabbit and I have a lot in common. Neither of us appreciates daylight saving time and Ken Burns is unlikely to do a documentary film featuring either of us. The lagomorph was like a goofy cousin or I was like its goofy cousin.

I don’t speak eastern cottontail, but I talk to the rabbit. I’ve found an easy way to keep a conversation going is to ask, “Then what did you say?”

That doesn’t provoke words from the rabbit. It definitely doesn’t suffer from logorrhea. That’s OK, if someone reaches out to me, the least I could do is to listen even if that someone doesn’t say anything.

My brother-in-law told me about his grandson and his wife in North Carolina. The young couple found a young bunny in their yard and adopted it. They named it and worked with the family’s dog, teaching the canine that the rabbit was family. The pooch grudgingly accepted the bunny’s friendship.

They fed and cared for the animal as it grew quickly. The time came for them to tell the rabbit that it had been adopted. They planned the day it would be released into the wild.

The perfect place was found and the rabbit was freed to go hopping merrily down the bunny trail. Tears were shed. They waved until a hawk flew down and snatched the poor bunny.

I thought of that as I peered up at maple leaves red enough to bewitch two of me.

Keep your head up, you’ll find a reason why.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.