Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pierre Lapin

Nevada City, California, 1980s.

I have a friend, call him Carlysle, who lives with his girlfriend Cadence in an old Victorian house on two acres of hilltop surrounded by cedar trees. He has nearby neighbors, but he only sees their houses when he drives up his winding driveway. He's also near several large shopping malls and a freeway, but he can't see or hear them either.

His house will never be featured in Sunset and no one would ever mistake it for a movie set. But it does have one thing, music. Cadence is a performing musician, singer and teacher. Carlysle also sings, plays a little piano and is currently working on the cello. There are lessons or rehearsals in progress and hot and cold running performers are in and out at all times in the old Victorian house. There is no time for distractions like freeway noise and mall lights.

Every now and then Carlysle does strange things. Once he brought home a rabbit. It might have been for Easter, but it wasn't a dead rabbit, something useful, something you could cook for dinner. My, no, this was a live rabbit and so, of course, he had to have a name. Carlysle named him Pierre. Pierre Lapin.

I don't suppose Carlysle gave much thought to where Pierre would live. He knew it wouldn't be in the house with Cadence and him, but he had no suitable hutches or other kind of outbuilding that might do. It was cold in those spring evenings, so Carlysle set up a cardboard box with some rags for warmth and some food for sustenance in his carport. (It would have been a carport, but there was no room for his car since it had an accumulation of other miscellany that grown over previous months. There was barely room for Pierre, and he was not a big rabbit.

Pierre did manage to make it into the house a time or two, but each time he was firmly put back into his box in the carport. Otherwise, he had free range of the large yard. However, dogs roamed the neighborhood, as well as raccoons, cats, and other predators who might be interested in a rabbit entree. Pierre survived several onslaughts but after one particularly perilous occasion, made himself very scarce. It took Carlysle several hours to find him.

Enough was enough, my friend decided. He resolved to put Pierre's box where it would be safe from all the predators. He put the box up in a black oak tree about eight feet off the ground.

But rabbits don't climb trees, not even gifted rabbits. But Carlysle had a plan. He got some ducting, the same kind of tubular material used to vent laundry dryers, and wrapped it around the tree several times so that it led gently from the ground to the box.

“Carl,” I said, “I don't want to hurt your feelings, but that is a genuinely stupid idea.” You see, I knew all about rabbit behavior and Carlysle didn't.

Apparently Pierre didn't know much about rabbit behavior, either, because he walked right into the ducting and waltzed up to his box. A tunnel is a tunnel, right?

MORAL: Just because an idea is stupid, doesn't mean it won't work.

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