Linda M. Hasselstrom. Very much ready for spring after the snowiest April on record in the area.
This photo was taken at Linda's rock garden in 2011.
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The Evening Show, Starring Crow and Rabbit
A Beltane Message from Linda
May 1, 2013
On that warm May evening, Jerry and I leaned against the chain link fence around our house in Cheyenne, visiting with our neighbor Jan. Our two Westies sat by the fence, quivering with unrequited interest in Jan's elderly tomcat Howard. Occasionally the cat strolled toward the dogs and flicked his tail, sending Duggan into a frenzy of barking.
Then we noticed that Mac, the older dog, was staring across the street at the parking lot of the school administration building.
He'd spotted a rabbit sitting under a parking barricade of corrugated tin attached to short posts. We often walked the dogs in that parking lot; when the dogs chased them, the bunnies would dive into a drain pipe.
Just as we noticed the rabbit, a crow flew from the top of a spruce to the parking barricade, just above the rabbit's head. The crow flapped his wings once or twice and swooped to the ground beside the rabbit. The rabbit hopped away; we figured he was headed for his refuge in the drain pipe. The crow flapped into the air, following. The rabbit dashed back under the barricade and backed against a support post.
Continued below . . .
What were the crow and rabbit doing? Linda learns a lesson from some common Great Plains animals: dance for joy and astonish those who are watching.
for the rest of the Equinox message.
Welcome to Windbreak House Writing Retreat
In the center of the nation, deep in the grasslands of western South Dakota, essayist and poet Linda M. Hasselstrom grew up as an only child on a family cattle ranch homesteaded by a Swedish cobbler in 1899.
Today she invites you to benefit from a writing retreat on that same ranch. Come to the house where she discovered the Great Plains outside her windows, where she began to write the poetry and non-fiction books that have established her as one of the strongest voices on behalf of the prairie.
Linda holds a BA in English and Journalism, an MA in American Literature, and has been a teacher of writing for more than 40 years. She has hosted writing retreats at her ranch since 1996.
Not a writer but a reader? Enjoy Linda's vivid descriptions of her life and work on the ranch, as a writer, and as an advocate for the preservation of the prairies and the people and wildlife who inhabit them.
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The Home Page Message Continues . . .
The crow landed on top of the post. The rabbit dashed into the middle of the parking lot. When the crow leapt into the air and circled him, the bunny dashed back to the barricade.
By then we thought we understood what was happening: the rabbit feared the crow and was trying to escape to its drain pipe den. We watched for several minutes, speculating about crow behavior. Do they attack rabbits in the same way an eagle or a hawk might? None of us had ever heard of such a thing, but we all admitted that despite the omnipresence of crows in the city, we didn't know enough about them to be sure. We focused again on our conversation.
Then the rabbit dashed out of its shelter and into the middle of the parking lot and the crow landed behind it. The rabbit turned, flipped its ears and hopped toward the crow. The crow spread its wings, rose into the air a foot or two and flapped back to the top of the barricade. The rabbit followed-- hopping a little higher than usual, we thought-- and sat under the barricade for a moment, twitching its nose. Then it hopped out of the shadow of the barricade and headed for the drainage pipe. The crow was scratching its side with its beak tucked under its wing.
Good, we thought. The rabbit is going to escape the predatory crow. We almost held our breath, as the rabbit hopped toward its hole.
Then the crow looked up and took to the air. Throughout the episode, it had not uttered a single raucous cry and it remained silent now.
"Uh-oh," said someone. "Run!" someone else whispered. The rabbit, only a couple of feet from its hiding place, stopped and turned. Instead of attacking, the crow landed between the rabbit and the drain pipe.
We were all moving, our bodies encouraging the rabbit to dodge around the crow. But the bunny hopped straight in the air, so high and with such power its back feet stretched out straight, and bounded back toward the crow.
Instead of flying, the crow ran awkwardly back toward the barricade, leaping to the top of it just as the rabbit stopped underneath.
Back and forth they went for the next twenty minutes, while we watched in openmouthed silence and the dogs whined. The crow rarely spread its wings, but ran clumsily or hopped. First the rabbit was the pursuer, then the crow. At least fifteen times, the rabbit sprinted out into the center of the parking lot and then zipped back to the barricade. Several times, when the rabbit might have dived into the drain pipe, it did not.
Both animals began adding flourishes: the rabbit would skip in a straight line across the asphalt, closely pursued by the bouncing crow and then spin, leap, and gallop away. The crow would spring in place a couple of times and then lurch in the rabbit's wake.
Once the crow dropped to the ground under the big fir tree and started pecking. The rabbit hopped lazily toward the drain pipe and we thought the game was over. Suddenly the rabbit streaked back across the asphalt and romped past the crow, kicking its heels. The crow flapped its wings and ran after rabbit again, silent.
As darkness gathered, the crow pecked more often at the ground under the tree, and the rabbit stopped once or twice to nibble grass beside the sidewalk. Gradually the two became absorbed in eating and drifted apart. The crow flew away into the darkness and we couldn't see the rabbit any more.
Crows and rabbits are so common in the city we once hardly noticed them. The night these two danced together in a mystery we could not solve reminded us how much of the life of these Great Plains-- and of even the most common of its animals-- is still mysterious to us.
May Eve, Beltane, is when we celebrate the dance of spring as nature renews herself again, inspiring new life everywhere. "Desire," says one source, "meets delight." To celebrate May Eve, let's emulate the crow and rabbit: stop thinking in stereotypes and dance for joy, play with what we have in our lives, astonish those who are watching us.
Linda M. Hasselstrom
For Beltane, May 1, 2013
Hermosa, South Dakota
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These Home Page Essays Are Archived ---
Linda posts a new message on her Home Page a number of times each year. We've archived the essays (click here)
so you can read the ones you missed and re-read the ones you enjoyed. Some of them include recipes or poems or writing suggestions. All of them have photos.
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