As I open the drapes this New Year’s Day morning, I am greeted with a clear blue sky that we only get on the coldest days of winter. The bright sun casts a deceptive warmth that the thermometer betrays at a frigid five degrees. A light blanket of snow from earlier in the week still covers the yard, crosscut by a ceaseless highway of animal tracks. It’s all Mother Nature’s work so far, and she’s created another masterpiece. The red cast of the dogwood and willow and orange-yellow of witch hazel buds break an otherwise muted display of browns and gray from the dormant garden.
But on this first day of the new decade, all is not asleep in the winter garden. Nuzzled up close to the back boards of our raised patio planter is a New Year’s visitor, a rabbit that has been our frequent guest since the fall. While he may be the one responsible for the carnage on our newly planted hollies in the side yard, I feel no malice towards him — only a sense of hope that he will find a way to stay warm during this cold snap that promises no days above freezing in the foreseeable future.
While many gardeners have an adversarial relationship with rabbits, I’ve always been of the opinion that we should plant enough to share, and shelter those plants we absolutely want to protect. Surely, I’ve had my days of cursing their voracious appetites, but never to the point of taking more drastic measures. We live with and among nature, and the rabbits are as much a part of that as the plants that decorate our landscape.
So, Happy New Year, our furry friend. Here’s to another year of sharing your cycle of life. My hope is that we somehow provide you a safe place to call home.