Last year, sitting on my deck of a summer morning, café latte in hand, I was taking in the cool breeze before the summer heat kicked in when two tiny bunny ears peeped out from under the deck by our flower pot. A bunny the size of a baseball soon followed, so tiny he could have fit in the palm of my hand. I quickly went inside and chopped up tiny pieces of fresh spinach thinking, hoping he would hop by again.
Sure enough, he returned morning after morning, day after day, week after week, month after month, until his visit became an obsession with me. I named him Thumper. Of course.
It was toward the end of August. I had a trip planned to the Bahamas. I made sure my golden lab, Miley, was taken care of and fed, that my husband had enough food, that plants would be watered, and, yes, Thumper would be fed while I was away.
Even while swimming with dolphins, sipping exotic cocktails around the pool, relaxing, and playing the role of Ginger on Gilligan’s Island, all I could think about was if little Thumper had survived the heat of Topanga.
As soon as my trip ended and I was on my way home from LAX, I called my husband. “How’s Thumper?” He reluctantly answered, saying, “We’ll talk when you get home.” I insisted and finally he said it looked as if an owl had gotten a rabbit. I told him to go bury it in a safe, sacred place as I cried and hung up.
I came home sad to find my little gem of a bunny gone. A beautiful Topanga sunset was on the horizon and a balmy summer breeze filled the air as I reflected on the trip and my memories of Thumper and awoke next morning still sad. Out on the deck, coffee in hand, this time to say a prayer by the flowerpot where he had made his home, I walked around our property with tears and hope. My head was down as I turned the corner and there was Thumper, as cute as ever, in the exact spot I saw him last by the flower pot. It was Thumper, my little friend that made me smile, and even more now that he was back and not much bigger. I knew it was him because he was all ears in a tiny body. I ran inside, chopped up his spinach and gladly put it in his spot. Month after month he appeared and he became the main source of conversation in our household, “Did you see Thumper today?”
The summer was passing us by and fall was in the air. September, October then November set in with smoke-filled skies from the horrid fire that was quickly spreading across the Santa Monica Mountains. There were bobcat sightings and cougar posts on Nextdoor Topanga. Coyotes howled the night away, hawks soared the smoky Topanga skyline, that cleared with wicked wet weather: rain for days and floods from the burnt-out Malibu hillsides. I wondered where Thumper would hide. He had grown much too big to fit under our deck and it was cold and damp. It wasn’t until a cold December morning that I saw Thumper had taken cover under our tack shed near our wine garden.
Smart rabbit! He had moved in and made his new home. We even started feeding him by hand. Day by day, until with all the rain, green grass filled the canyon hills and a food source was abundant. To this day, Thumper, even with the abundant grass and wildflowers, still comes and takes his hand-fed spinach from us.
Just when I thought this story was finished, I peered out my window and, surprise! There was a little Thumper, as small as a tennis ball and as cute as ever, sitting in the April sun.