When I was in Washington, D.C., last week, I got used to over-friendly squirrels scurrying in the streets.
I even witnessed a city commissioner become a St. Francis of sorts, with birds eating cake off her plate and a squirrel moving in for its own share of the action as said commissioner sat and watched with amusement.
But I was a little surprised when I came back to the hotel and found this lost little bunny sitting next to the Library of Congress.
Had he gotten so involved with a book on how best to eat my mom’s garden that he lost track of time and became separated from his family?
Was he an escapee from the White House Easter Egg Roll several weeks earlier?
All I knew was that he looked terribly sad sitting on the corner all alone.
I approached and gently asked if I could help him with anything.
“I’m from South Dakota,” I said, “so I probably look just as lost as you do. But maybe luck would have it that we could help one another.”
The rabbit smiled.
“I’m Ribbles,” he told me. “Ribbles the Rabbit. I’m not lost. Not really. I’m just disillusioned.”
It turns out that Ribbles had come to Washington after the release of “The Hunger Games.” The movie was entertaining, he admitted, but it had horrible consequences for his family. The book series and film had all kinds of young people picking up bows and killing rabbits so they could prepare Katniss-Style Roasted Rabbit and other “Hunger Games”-themed cuisine. Ribbles lost two brothers and an uncle, as well as many friends within two week’s time.
While rabbits may come across as fierce warriors to gardeners, they are in fact a pacifist species. Therefore, Ribbles decided to spearhead an effort to make it illegal to bowhunt rabbits just because an individual had watched or read “The Hunger Games” and thought it would be cool.
Have you heard of this effort?
I thought not. Ribble’s meetings with federal legislators had gone absolutely nowhere. Thus, he sat disillusioned by the Library of Congress waiting to meet his fate at the end of a young bowhunter’s arrow.
As he told me all of this, I fully expected him to break down in tears at any moment. The weight upon his heart came across with his words.
I urged him to come down off the ledge and join me for a salad at a nearby Thai restaurant. It was all I could think to do.
Ribbles was from Tennessee, had a soft spot for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and was a big fan of the movie “Donnie Darko.” In fact, he usually dresses up as Donnie’s friend, Frank the bunny, at Halloween.
Say no more. We really hit it off.
While we didn’t end the slaughter of rabbits by “Hunger Games” fans that day, we did forge a friendship.
I offered to bring Ribbles back to Yankton where I know plenty of people with gardens that he could feast upon and make new rabbit friends. What the heck? Why not?
It turns out that it was a good move. Ribbles is really liking it here, and his spirits are rising by the day. He can’t wait for the gardens this summer, so please make them big and luscious.
If any of you do happen to go rabbit hunting in the area, please ask your prey if its name is Ribbles before firing. If it is him, please spare his life. Ribbles would appreciate that show of kindness, and so would I.