Over here in Oxford still, with our two Danes, two Israelis, two Poles, two Italians, two Spaniards, two Irishmen, two Scots, two Americans, (no Germans, interestingly) and 8 assorted Brits who could probably be paired up cleverly if I had the time – two locals, two jaded Londoners, two northerners with the lilting voices of the shires.  We don’t let the nationals partner up with each other for the bodywork exchange, by the way, so they have to mix, but never have I had a class where lunchtime sounds like such wonderful glossalalia – a United Nations of bodywork!

But I can’t stop feeling Bambi, so here’s her sad story.

Once plentiful, around my home, I rarely see a wild rabbit in my woods walks (and when I do it’s a streak of fur – they are so fast), though I see tracks in the snow occasionally on my winter skis.  They’ve been hunted out, but they may rebound in the coming years, since no one goes out with the beagles and a shotgun any more since Mervin died; these wild bunnies are too hard to find.

Even the non-human predators – fox, fisher, owl, coyote, mink – that were the bane of Quan’s existence when we first built the rabbitat eight years ago seem more recently to have retreated elsewhere (at least since the barred owl:  Knock on wood, the rabbitat, now pregnable with rabbit tunnels to the outside and gaps in the gate, remains an oasis for Quan’s rescued domestic rabbits.

A couple of Fridays ago we got a knock on the door after dinner, a brow-knitting experience in the country, where most folks we know would just walk in if they saw the light on – so a knock can mean trouble.  There under the front door lamp was the daughter of a acquaintance down the road and her 10-year-old son Mattias; they had just seen this wild rabbit get struck by a car, and had scooped her up from the side of the road in Mattias’ jacket and brought her to us for care.

Most animals who come here, even ‘my’ cats, even me myself, end up bonding with Quan, she has such a way with animal natures.  Occasionally, however, one will go for me.  Way back when, Kato the attack rabbit would aggressively bite anyone who came near, going for their hand or pantleg, or even a towel dragged in his vicinity.  But somehow I could pick him up, cuddle him to my chest, put my chin on top of his head, and he would chutter happily and go to sleep.  Quan warned me he would tear my throat out one day, but he never did, and he passed away peacefully of old age this last winter.

And Bambi was another; I fell for her immediately.  Frightened beyond measure by this whole new world, but helpless with shock and a bum leg, she had no choice but to allow me to examine her for broken bones while Quan prepared her a box of hay, alfalfa, and water.  She had a grazed knee (and ticks in her ears that had to be removed) but nothing seemed broken, and I got a weak response from pinching her toes on the otherwise limp right hind leg, so we thought there might be a chance of her recovery.

“Bambi’ occurred to us right away – she had a long face and eyes that protruded out of her skull like a deer.  Her feet were not furry and cute, but long and splayed at the end into three toes with long toenails.  Lean and muscular, she stared with the wide eyes and extended forelegs of fear, but she was so weak and hurt she soon gave in and seemed to relax and accept the attention she got in my lap.

Quan showed me how to get water into her mouth with the barrel of a syringe, and we gave her MediCam for pain, and I spent as many hours with her as I could, snuggling her into my shirt while I answered emails, working her gamy leg, and calming her as best I could.  She seemed to welcome my visits, closing her eyes and relaxing as I stroked her nose and head with short strokes, ‘licking’ her as a mother would (and as Quan has taught me, probably never would have thought of this myself).

I fancy that I’m level-headed, and sometimes laugh at the lengths Quan goes to for her animals, but I went ass-over-teakettle for this poor little woodland creature who ran out of the woods at the wrong time into a Volvo’s bumper.  By Monday morning when the vet opened, she was getting more distant, and the leg had stopped responding.  And indeed, the vet found what I had not: a break in her delicate little spine that spelled no hope.  Christine is so kind, and Bambi went peacefully and painlessly into her good night, and I have had a leak in my heart ever since.

Hearts heal, and love changes over time like good soup, for sure – Quan and I, 18 years in, have tasted many of its flavours – but love is no respecter for time: that little brown creature had me from the moment I lifted her from Mattias’ coat and has me still – to be so close to something so wild and free, an innocent so hurt by our so heedless need for speed.

It’s Joni again:

In the night it snowed

Fast tracks in the powder white

Leading out to the road

Winding from her tender grasp

Wild things run fast


One Response to “Bambi”

  1. Sharon Says:

    She was a gift to you, right before she left. And what did she give you?

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