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turtle basket
august 02, 2002
Little Rabbit
Little Rabbit
There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.

~ Elizabeth Lawrence

It begins one October evening two years ago when the planet Mercury floats alone in the west, and papery leaves litter over summer's memories.

In the Kitten Room, our kittens are chasing one another and leaping in and out of the small oval wicker clothes basket that is their playpen.

Then Snooples catches her hind foot on the basket, flips it over. The basket rocks on its handles and comes to rest at a low angle like a discarded turtle shell. Little Rabbit, our chubby silver tabby kitten, dives underneath and punches his mitts out in all directions, like some scary undersea cave-dwelling thing with pawlike tentacles.

I am inspired.

I pick up a rubber ball decorated to look like a miniature soccerball, contemplate it for a moment, and roll it gently into the dark night under the basket's edge.

Ker-pang the ball blasts back out! Snooples' white boots churn so fast she gallops in place for a second before dashing off after it in a charcoal tabby blur.

This has potential! I offhandedly toss a pink paisley mouse under the basket. It spins back and bounces head-first off the baseboard.

I scoop up another ball, this one painted like a tiny baseball. I fire off a knuckleball. Little Rabbit puts his full weight behind the bat. It's a high fly to right field! The ball ricochets off the chifforobe, pings the lamp shade, arcs over to Nosegay. Nosegay's backing up, backing up. Spiraling skyward, he makes a neat two-pawed catch!

I am giggling like a four-year-old, crawling around the floor gathering up an arsenal of cat toys. I toss in a handful of pearly white ping pong balls, a blue paisley bean-bag hippopotamus, and a bubble gum-pink rubber asteriod studded with kitten-sized teething rings.

The basket whirls in a half-circle. A hairy arm punches a ping pong ball over to white Chessie. She flings herself full-body on the ball, slides with it all the way into the corner. Smacks her nose on the baseboard.

Next, the rubber asteroid wobbles out. Snooples dives after it; Nosegay leapfrogs over Snooples; Snooples slides smack into the litterbox. Chessie appears out of nowhere and trots off with the asteroid dangling from her teeth.

The hippo skids out on his rump. He skids straight into Nosegay's arms. Nosegay bear-hugs the hippo, flops onto his side, furiously gnaws the hippo's cotton head. He kicks the hippo with savage kangaroo kicks. The hippo gives up.

Gray arms snake out like raging eels. Cat toys and kittens fly about the room. A fuzzy pink mouse ditches into the waterbowl, takes on water, lists at a poignant angle.

I roll in sponge balls, yarn balls, tinkly bell balls, a squeaky rubber hornet, a purple chicken. The chicken promptly returns. Suddenly the game changes course. Snooples has whacked the chicken back under, and now she's barreling in after it. Little Rabbit ejects out the other side, bounds off after the chicken.

Snooples proves even more aggressive at the game. She scrambles around under the basket like an insane crab! She whacks everything that moves! Toys zing out in all directions faster than I chuck them under. Now the basket is ALIVE, rampaging across the floor, consuming hapless toys and kittens in its path! It is horrifying!

Then I realize that for who-knows-how long, Edsel has been rapping on the Kitten Room door. And it occurrs to me that I have been laughing for a very long time. In fact, I've been having so much fun that I have momentarily forgotten who I am, what I tend to think, and best of all, what I tend to worry about. I have been outside of myself, somewhere in Kitten Land. Edsel is calling.

What in Heaven's name is going on in there?

Why, nothing.

Nothing at all.

Photo: Little Rabbit
Note: The Kittens were born two years ago today. God bless you, Chessie, Nosegay, Little Rabbit, and Snooples.

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More about Little Rabbit...

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