Bunnies on Parade came about during a lull in the parade of consulting gigs. I was living with my first wife in the wonderful foothills near Auburn California in a quaint A-frame house on property. We had recently moved from Switzerland. After a short time in the Sacramento area, we had found this place. It was really out of the way impractical. We loved it. The Perimeter Road A-frame. The property had a resident barn cat we adopted. As barn cats will be, she was half feral and a bit beat up from her adventures we were sure. The raccoons heavily populate the woods there. Outdoors cats don’t have a long life expectancy unless they are really tough and even then misadventure will claim them young. She was rough with us at first, but understood the choice, mellowing into a less feral state of mind. She was much too small to be successful for long outdoors. Introducing, Schlangli.
While we were living in the flatlands, I had rescued two baby boy kittens from a feral lifestyle mom cat who had found shelter under a MX buddy’s deck. They were completely jet black, not a white hair to be found. They were hugely adorable as kittens, regularly involved in mischief, thus their naming. Introducing, Heckle and Jeckle. One, Heckle, grew big and happy, though clumsy. The other, Jeckle grew scrawny with his feral roots just below the surface.
They were adolescent cats when we moved to the A-frame but already they were bigger than Schlangli. They accepted her as resident and were totally mellow. She on the other hand was fierce with them, hissing, batting at them with a fore paw if they did not observe her space and accidentally cross too close. Sometimes she connected. The hissing inspired my naming her, Schlangen Kat, adding the adorable Swiss German, ‘li’, thus Schlangli. I invent things. Would you like me to read you some poetry?
During one of my “away” gigs, the wife had acquired some bunnies. I don’t know how that came about is lost to me. Upon my return, there they were. Their cage was in a corner in the muck room. They seemed to fill out the house nicely.
A lop, an angora, and Netherlander, all dwarfs. Introducing, Loeffel, Hopel, Bopeli. These three made up the original three-some. They were constantly together, making one large rabbit. During the day they were free to roam the interior. The cats were allowed outside. If we neglected to let them out and just the screen door separated them from the great world beyond, well, Jeckle would take care of this problem for everybody. He would lay on his side, hook his claws into the screen and pull the slider open. Probably I had been working in the back office room and had lost track of the time, absorbed in some intractably silly software development problem.
I can image the scene. A fly keeps at me, bothering me to distraction. I get up to look for the fly swatter, probably it would be in the kitchen atop the refrigerator. Swatter in hand I turn to return to the office. I notice the screen door is slide wide open. Huh, I thought, sliding the door closed. Then I notice there are no animals in the living room. Schlangli is not at her perch in the window sill. She’s always at her perch. I dimly put it together and go out on the deck. There’s Schlangli, laying across the deck railing’s bottom rail, head and fore paws out observing the yard. She was observing the bunnies in the yard, leaping and tearing across the grass, chasing each other or just chasing themselves. Heckle and Jeckle are beyond the grass, pretending to hunt near the tall wild grass. The wild grass full of burs. These two had long fur prone to matting. That’s gonna be fun brushing them out.
On another occasion, Jeckle figured out the swinging screen door. It could only be latched by a pin on the inside; latched, it could not be opened from the outside. So, we never did latch it. One day Jeckle figured he could bump the door open and scoot out before the closing spring it slammed shut, “Whap!”. That was a taunt spring. He could not get back in of course, but that was not important until the sun started to go down. Hanging out in front of the sliding door typically got him admission. This screen door, “Whap,” trick was repeated several times before Heckle caught on. I saw his first attempt though he did not see me. He pushed at the door all timid like. It closed before he could do anything about it. He tried pushing harder, but it didn’t move. He tried again, this time with the hardest push yet. He hesitated, then jumped through as the door was slamming back, catching his big fuzzy squirrel tail in the closing door. “Weow!” he did howl, tearing across the deck, claws extended; I heard them.
We volunteered to dog sit for a friend of mine while he was away. Introducing Bandit. He was a long haired mixed breed, something of a collie. He had that temperament, the kind with high energy. He was gently protective of our menagerie of cats and bunnies, and always would want to play, a lot. That got Schlangli speaking her name to him on occasion. She was a sun goddess and wanted to be left to her worship.
There was a big, beat up feral tom cat that roamed the property neighborhood. He had been picking on Schlangli. Introducing, Bully Cat.
Bully Cat came around only once after Bandit was in residence. He had no idea. He got close to the house, lurking around, before discovering this big dog had been waiting for him. Bandit proceeded to chase this unwelcome trespasser across the yard grass, to disappear him in panic into the long wild grass.
All the characters were introduced to the setting. Their personality and my imagination mixed to make the story of Bunnies on Parade.