Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Near-Death Experience (Not mine -- but still traumatic)

I will never understand how my husband can sleep through our dog's pre-dawn I-have-to-go-out barks. It's not like I jump up right away. I pretend I'm asleep, but those barks seem urgent. At 6am on Sunday morning, either the love of my life is still in dreamland or he is giving an award-winning performance.

It's still dark outside when I let out the dog. I'm grumbling as I search for coffee. We are completely out. If I'm going to salvage a moment of this day, there must be caffeine involved.

I throw on a sweatshirt, sweat pants, winter boots, no socks. (Apparently my limited fashion sensibilities don't wake up until there's caffeine either). I weigh my coffee options.

Like any town here, we have a WaWa. For those of you unfamiliar with this mainstay of the Jersey shore, it's a local convenience store known for its coffee and sandwiches. There are more WaWas in these parts than there are mosquitoes on a summer evening. But even in the early hours, it's a busy place, and I am not in the mood for throngs of humanity.

Instead I head to Dunkin Donuts. I buy my ground coffee and of course, I get a cup for the road. After a few sips of caffeine and a conversation with the Dunkin Donuts man (who is completely sympathetic about my sleeping husband/barking dog/no coffee in the house situation) I'm feeling better. I get into the car to drive to a different part of town to watch the sun come up.

So the morning seems to be savable. The coffee is good. I feel completely validated by the understanding Dunkin Donut's man. I decide it's pretty cool that in a town of only 1500 people, there are two places where you can buy coffee at 6am.

I begin to count all the wonderful things that we have doubles of in this town. True, there are no bookstores, which is my personal cultural barometer, but there are three pizza parlors, two places to get a Tarot card reading, and a zillion places to get a tattoo. I'm still counting when I turn down a wooded road.

A rabbit races out in front of me. I hit the brakes.

A lot goes through your head during moments of crisis. First, I am struck by the unfairness of the situation. I can't be a rabbit killer. I'm a vegetarian (okay, well, I eat fish, dairy, eggs and on nights when the stars are not properly aligned, I will nibble on a piece of chicken. But never rabbit. I mean..that's like red meat).

And why this particular little guy? This is no scrawny half-starved creature. This is a furry, round, adorable animal. If they were casting parts for the Easter follies, the rabbit who is now a mere six inches from my front tire would be a shoe in for the starring role. There is no getting around this. I'm about to run over the Easter Bunny. I wonder if I already had.

The Easter Bunny must have made a 90-degree turn under the car. I see him hopping about two feet in front of me. I know it's only a matter of moments before his little round rabbit legs give out and those tires catch up with him.

Finally the car stops. The rabbit makes a run toward the other side of the street. For a moment, human and rabbit stare at each other. I can see his little bunny heart pounding. And mine seems to share the same quick rhythm.

I wait until the bunny is out of sight, far from the road. And I continue on my way. As I'm sipping my coffee watching the sun come up over the bay, I think about the rabbit hiding in the brambles and wonder if he is watching the sunrise too.


Nora MacFarlane said...

I completely understand your suspicions about the award-winning performance. Been there!! Glad the bunny is safe! I don't usually dodge bunnies. I have to watch out for deer and wild turkeys. Lots of wild turkeys...

nanmarino said...

I'm so out of my element when it comes to rabbits and deer. There are so many of them around here, and I'm not used to it yet. I haven't seen any turkeys.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm glad you didn't hit the rabbit!

Where we lived in Scotland there were so many rabbits that it was virtually impossible to avoid hitting one at some point.

Wish there were some place in this town that sold coffee at 6 in the morning...

nanmarino said...

Mary, I'm glad I didn't hit it either.
Finding coffee at 6am is a wonderful thing.
Scotland is on my list of places to visit.

cleemckenzie said...

You and E.B. White could have a wonderful conversation. He wrote a lot about how he drove to avoid hitting small creatures on his rural road. I brake for salamanders myself, so I understand what you must have felt. Good work and great braking.

Now I have something to confess. I tagged you. I know. I know. But it couldn't be helped. Check out my blog and see. I forgave the author who did this to me, so I hope you'll give me the same "break!" :D

nanmarino said...

I've never read any essays by EB White. It's on my list. Maybe I'll check it out next time I'm in a library :)
No worries about the tag thing. I'll check it out.

S A Putnam said...

I'm glad the bunny made it and that you were safe.