Village Matters


Loose in Laguna


By Ann Christoph

The ocean view is not the only advantage of having an office in Laguna.  Our neighborhood of shops, offices and homes is a beehive of intrigue and melodrama.


I feel like I’m on stage, except I don’t know the lines or the plot.  I never know what or who is going to enter from stage right through my office door.


Just last week the door opened and there was my neighbor Michael standing there with carrots in one hand and a net in the other.  “Do you know how to catch a rabbit?” he burst out.  It seems another neighbor had found a “lost” pet black rabbit in Santa Ana, brought it to Laguna and released it in his back yard.  Rabbits, being clever and enterprising creatures, always want to know if there are more succulent herbs on the other side of the fence.  The rabbit in question promptly escaped the yard into the alley and then, on to Michael’s garden.  No problem there, but his free-ranging habits had brought him out into the alley again, and he’d somehow wandered through our parking lot.


There he was hiding in our shrubs, very close to Coast Highway.  Just out of reach.


“I just don’t want to see him get run over,” Michael wailed. The rabbit was not really scared, but he was just wary enough not to make himself immediately available for a stay in the cardboard box Michael was carrying.  Especially when he heard Michael say he’d called Animal Control and they said they’d be happy to come out and get the guy, but back at headquarters he’d be euthanized.


Michael threw him a carrot.  “Oh, that’s nice,” the little guy chuckled, grabbed it and retreated further into the thicket, chomping away in full view of our team of rescuers, which now numbered four.  We had been joined by  neighbor, Dennis, and Michael’s exterminator, who just happened on the scene.  If the rabbit could have read the sign on his truck, I’m sure that would have made our job even harder.  But, after several diversionary maneuvers, the rabbit finally let Dennis catch him.


Into the cardboard box he went. “Now what are you going to do with him?” This was the question.  Gina at Animal Crackers was full.  Out came the iPhones looking for bunny rescue. There was a place in San Clemente, but they didn’t take illegal immigrants.  You’d have to lie and say Blackie was a San Clemente rabbit.  I guess San Clemente rabbits have green cards.  Our guy whispered that a dog had eaten his papers.


An image came to mind of the dimly lighted living room of one of my former clients, a rabbit rescuer.  Row upon row of rabbits in cages.  Safe, but is that anyway to live?


Dennis and Michael transferred Blackie into a plastic crate with hand holes on the side.  The lid was secured by a shovel laid on top.  Off Michael went for supplies, locking rabbit and makeshift cage in the garage.


Michael returned with real rabbit food and a cage with a heart on the side. He opened the garage door, and Mr. Rabbit casually ambled out, scampering down the alley over to a clump of grass, his afternoon snack.  He had clawed or eaten away enough of the hand holes to make his escape.


A car drove down the alley and the rabbit squeezed away from it under the fence.  See, he has some sense.  Perhaps he’s better off here in the alley by the sea than any other place we could take him.


I ponder. The rabbit’s new home isn’t the safest place.  He, just like us, could be living in places engineered for safety, but we don’t go there.  We’d be missing out on Laguna life, the opportunity to explore what succulent opportunity is out there to live life to the fullest.


Back at the office, it’s intermission, just waiting for the second act.


Landscape architect Ann Christoph is a former elected City Council member.


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