April is a cruel month to be a beagle indoors. The rabbit population explodes and is eminently visible from the windows, glass doors, and end of the leash, every day. Our beagle, Odo, shivers with anxiety and anticipation and pierces the air with ringing, frantic barks. It’s the one time of year I wish we had cathedral ceilings so the barks wouldn’t bounce back quite so quickly.
There’s a baby bunny living under our garden shed. It likes to sit out on the lawn and look around, blithely, at the state of the world. This drives Odo bananas. It also makes it hard to be in our house for any length of time. It’s fine after 8:30 at night, when it’s too dark for him to see the bunny and he’s starting to succumb to the stupor of doggy sleep. But during the day, the noise is unbearable. Pull the shades? He noses them aside. Put him in his crate? He howls in lonely agony. Coax him onto the couch to cuddle? His eyes wander back toward the windows and his muscles tremble. Yell? Scold? Forget it. Mostly we go to Starbucks, the gym, the church, the grocery store — we just stay away from home.
Every couple of days we give in to Odo’s enormous desire and let him dive out into the yard after this bunny. We earnestly and selfishly hope he’ll catch the thing. We have to be with him because our fence is only four feet high and he’s jumped it more times than I care to remember. But he’d run in circles around that shed for hours if we let him, sticking his nose into every crevice as he goes, and whipping through the irises so the ground is littered with bits of torn purple petals. It looks as though there’s been some kind of party.
Tonight, I wanted to get out into the night air and thought it would be nice take him along. Wrong. Five steps out the front door and he was pulling on the leash so hard I felt like I could go waterskiing. Back inside we went.
I went back out by myself.
I haven’t taken a walk alone in ages. No dog. No other person. It was just me and a cold, quiet April night. A kids soccer game in the distance, people cheering. The smell of the lake. A train whistle from down in the river valley, toward Lemont. Stars coming out. The sound of the thoughts inside my own head.
And, probably, dozens of rabbits darting around in the bushes and grass as I went by. Thankfully, I didn’t see even one of them.