The first few days back at work after a holiday are always hard. As I trudged to work this morning, my head still full of Scottish beaches, I met a rabbit. This is not normal: I work in the centre of Manchester practically. But my route does take me along the side of Peel Park, a green haven and the oldest public park in Europe.
The rabbit hopped quite confidently up a slope to my left and onto the footpath in front of me. It was a wild brown rabbit, large and plump, with powerful back legs and a cotton wool ball for a tail. It stopped. I stopped too. Its nose twitched.
It seemed entirely unconcerned by my presence, as if it didn't consider human beings anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps it was an escaped pet? Perhaps. But last time I was in a pet shop, the rabbits were all freakishly cute, with long fur and ears that flopped downwards instead of pricking up. Their big needy eyes pleaded “take me take me take me”. This one had short, dull fur, coloured for camouflage, and he ignored me totally. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.
He lolloped casually under a hedge and onto the campus, towards a stretch of lawn left unmown to attract wildlife. He (I’m sure the rabbit was a he) nibbled at some clover, and sniffed the air some more.
What does it mean to see a rabbit in the morning? I wondered if it was an omen. His fat haunches disappeared with a flash of tail under a line of shrubs in front of the student shop, and he left me standing there, alone.
Just another creature going about its daily business, I suppose. I pushed the strap of my bag back onto my shoulder. Then I went on my way, towards the noise of traffic, my computer and a nice cup of tea in my hutch.