It seems that scary adventures aren't only confined inside the pages of the darker fairy tales. They're lying in wait for us in our very own gardens!
Allow me to explain...
It was just another Saturday afternoon, but the gardens... (well, what's left of them thanks to the grasshoppers)... needed watering. I slid on my muddy rubber boots... (because not wearing them out here is tantamount to losing brain cells. It's Texas, and it's summer, and there are copperheads out there. And ugly, tall boots? Well, they're like the Master Card. You don't leave home without them)... and like a soldier dodging bullets (only in my case it's grasshoppers) I head towards the water hose.
At which point I hear something screaming behind me. Initially, I thought it was a mouse. I'd never seen a mouse this close to the house, but I knew they've been known to take up residence in the barn before. It sounded like the noise came from either the roof of the house or the garden behind me. I start to ignore it, but just can't. I retreat a few steps and try locating the source of the sound. I see nothing out of the ordinary, so I start towards the water hose again.
Only to be greeted by a rabbit at my feet. She seemed to be in a hurry.
Her beady little eyes looked up at me, and for the space of a few seconds we just stared at one other. (I swear she was ticked off at my presence. She had that look). Not wanting to frighten her, I tried infusing my voice with a sprinkling of 'Disney Princess-ish' charm. (Hey, it exists. I've been to Disney World 11 times and counting).
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Just when I thought Diana was trusting that I wasn't one of those horrible humans that liked to put rabbits into pies... (That's her name by the way. Diana, like Anne Shirley's best friend in Anne of Green Gables).... my slow-as-molasses footstep she didn't trust. She started to bolt on me like The Flash.
By this point I nix the 'I'm-a-Disney-Princess-that-loves-woodland-creatures-persona' and set it to her straight. I put my hand up in the air and say, "No, no, no, no, no. It's okay."
Would you believe she actually froze and listened, as if she understood me? (She must be one of those rare English speaking rabbit scholars you'd read about in a children's storybook).
From that point on she trusted me. The thought came to me that perhaps it was a baby bunny that I was hearing, and she was racing around the house to get to the bunny.
I step away, giving her a wide berth to the garden where I heard those screams. As I do so, she hops on over there and pauses on the porch beside the garden. I take my chances and slowly walk to the porch, too, only still keeping some distance between us.
She doesn't leave, and I go inside to tell everyone that something's going on out there and I don't know what. I tell them it must be a baby rabbit calling to Diana, and we should probably stay inside until they're reunited.
So we look out the kitchen windows to the garden bed. We see Diana, but no other rabbit. And then the truth came out. The creepy, horrible, 'scary-as-a-Kardashian-marathon' truth.
Diana was hunting A SNAKE!
And she refused to leave. Absolutely refused. We were petrified out of our minds of seeing her get bit, so my mother takes the screen off the window to try to push Diana away.
She refused to budge.
So I get out the broom....
She refused to budge.
Mom gets her girly pink BB gun and shoots it far afield to frighten her....
She refused to budge.
My father, as happy as a frog at a princess convention, gets out his Father's Day present. (Which happens to be a shotgun. I'm not a fan of guns, but when it's Father's Day you can't really say no).
Now, this gun of his isn't like Ralph Parker's Red Ryder in A Christmas Story. It's the kind Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies would own. My mother and I, possessing working brain cells and common sense, tell my father over and over again that he is NOT going to shoot that snake with a gun. That snake was right under the window, which is where my mother and I were both standing on the other side while we kept trying to shoo the bunny away from harm.
Naturally, my father poo-pooed our instructions. Our lives weren't important when there was a snake to be shot. The math inside his pointed head went something like this:
First snake shooting > Wife and Daughter's Lives
So about 5 seconds after he lied to us, saying he won't shoot it, he shoots at it. He shot that gun literally inches away from us... and misses.
Misses both targets, snake and family.
And all this time Diana the Rabbit still didn't budge. She, too, was intent on hunting down that snake. No puny shotgun fired just a few feet away was going to deter her from her hunt. She saw that snake first, and as we all know a snake to a rabbit is a mortal enemy.
I could only guess what was swirling around in that furry little head of hers. To (sort of) quote Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, she was probably thinking something like: "Hello, my name is Diana the Cottontail. You kill innocent rabbits. Prepare to die."
By this point, Mr. Dumb Ass (aka my own father) is about to be served. My mother is I-R-A-T-E. She pokes her head out the window and points her pink BBgun on his sorry, plaid-pajama's-wearing self, announcing "I'm going to shoot you you son of a Biatch!" (Okay, she didn't really pronounce it like that. I'd just like to keep this blog Disney-rated if I can). The scene in our front garden was starting to look like a "My Name is Earl" episode. If we had more neighbor's, I'm sure we could have made a killing selling tickets.
So my father, whose brain was apparently comprised by a sackful of ferrets at the time, didn't seem to care about his welfare. All he knew was that he had a snake to hunt. Watching his obsession towards that snake was like watching a pound of catnip being presented to a cat.
My mother finally manages to usher the rabbit away from the commotion and to relative safety. Diana concedes Round 1 and just enjoys a light snack.
The snake manages to hide underneath the water barrel for about half an hour. When it starts to pop out, Diana rushes back to the scene only to be shooed away by us.
I don't think the hunter in her appreciated that one bit. She was fearlessly determined to win Round 2. Can't you see it? Look at her eyes. She was a huntress on a mission!
Eventually, Father Do-Do-Head triumphed because he got to shoot his snake.
For the record, I'm petrified of snakes. I don't share Diana's fearlessness towards them, but if they're not poisonous I'd sooner just let them be.
Which is HARD for me to say because I've had three close encounters with them before and they've traumatized me. I'm just not a card carrying member of the snakes fan club.
That evening I had visions - waking and sleeping - of snakes, so when I had to let little Abby outside early the next morning I was petrified. Simply opening that back door was an act of bravery on my part!
After I saw that the coast was clear (I hoped), I somehow managed - and with my boots on (literally and metaphorically) - to step outside. I was encountered with this:
There was no denying that it was a rather peaceful scene. You just can't go wrong with watching the cattle grazing so early in the morning, while listening to the crows and other songbirds singing all around. (We really do have a lot of different species of birds around here. It's like living inside a fairytale).
I wanted to sit in our gazebo and just soak it all in, but as I said... I'm not as fearless as our resident rabbit. Instead of enjoying the beautiful side of nature, instead I opted for hiding safely indoors whilst sipping an iced mocha and watching Doctor Who reruns.
I'll leave those badges of bravery to the rabbits. They seem to prefer it that way anyway.
Especially our Diana, seeing how ever since that day she's been stalking that same garden bed for her snakes return.