I'm just sitting down to work, at the desk below a west facing window, in the basement of the house I grew up in.

July 17th, 2013, 9am

When I was here last summer, a trio of rabbits would often race around the outside of the whole house. I watched them pass by and by and by, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Until one of them saw through my window out the glass door behind me and ran right up to it, thinking he could go straight through the house, as birds often do with the windows upstairs. I sat still as he got closer to the window, close enough to see me, or his own reflection but whatever he saw startled him. And he just stopped and stared. Eventually one of the rabbits behind him caught up, ran up, and the circling game began again. There were so many rabbits here last year, you couldn’t leave the house without waking one from sleep, sprawled out in the cool gravel under the truck, beneath the oversized Douglas Fir or raspberry brambles. I’ve only seen one rabbit running around here this year. She made a nest between two bales of hay for her brand new, nearly hairless, family of three. After one cold night (in early summer, it can drop into the mid 40s and 50s after the sun goes down), she left the nest and one baby behind in its too thin coat.

Cool evenings aside, this year’s dearth of rabbits is most likely related to the large bullsnake sliding around: below the deck, in the gutters on the barn, behind the lilacs. I think I hear it everywhere. Maybe it is a banner year for bullsnakes.

I saw one last week, stretching about four feet across the trail I was running. As I leaped back, retracting my knees and ankles so high into the air, it lay unflinching, blocking my path. Adrenaline had kicked in to aid my elevation because bullsnakes closely resemble rattlesnakes, which also live here; the difference in their colors and diamond patterns is slight. This one did not recoil or rattle upon my abrupt arrival so I calmed and looked closer to know what it was. It was, of course, harmless but I still tossed rocks to move it along. The snake, however, remained unmoved. Forced to walk a wide arc around it, I realized when you spend your days slithering along cliffs of crumbling sandstone, grit and stone flying your way are not to be feared, they are your life.

Allen, Cassie, Craig and Caroline said thanks.

Share this moment

Sara Distin

reader, writer, runner, slipper, glimpser

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook