Be like a rabbit in the desert and listen - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Be like a rabbit in the desert and listen

May 24th, 2018 development
Be like a rabbit in the desert and listen

By Lynne Hartke, Guest Writer


Several weeks ago, my sister and I took advantage of the cooler morning temps and went hiking on South Mountain at the Pima Canyon trailhead. We hiked in the brown of a dry winter that produced a spring with few wildflowers.

We passed an ocotillo without one single green leaflet on its stalks, as the plant had cast off all its leaves in hopes of surviving, yet orange flower flames shot from the tip of each withered stick.

We took the service road back with its ambling up-and-down gravel surface, where the most dangerous things we encountered were mountain bikers racing back to their cars. I kept a tight grip on the leash of Mollie, my terrier-retriever who would much rather have been bounding after ground squirrels in the underbrush.

About 100 yards from the parking lot, I saw it: the first saguaro bloom on the top of a 10-foot giant with three arms raised to the morning. The three-inch creamy blossom tilted toward the east, and I knew it had bloomed during the night, the beginning of its 24-hour life in the desert where it would attract bats, white-winged doves, and other pollinators.

“I want to get a photo,” I said to my sister and handed her Mollie’s leash. My eye caught something else off to my right. A cottontail rabbit sat motionless in a sunbeam, the veins of his extended ears alight in the sun.

The rabbit did not move as I stepped closer, which surprised me because their natural defense mechanism is to bolt at the first hint of danger. His nose twitched. He was hidden in plain sight, which was a good thing, because Mollie still had not noticed him.

I figured he must have been an older rabbit – not a skittish two-week-old youngster away from the nest for the first time, but maybe an ancient two-year-old – a grandparent of a rabbit.

I snapped several photos of the saguaro and then the cottontail, motionless in its environment of creosote, hedgehog and staghorn cacti.

Ears straight up, grandparent bunny sat gathering data – the changing sounds at daybreak. The mourning dove greeted the dawn, along with the call of the Gambel’s quail and the scolding cactus wren. The snakes would slither out soon to warm their cold-blooded bodies and I knew the rabbit was alert for coyotes seeking a bunny breakfast.

To all this – and the sounds of hikers and bikers – the rabbit listened and sought clarity. What sounds could he ignore? What sounds needed his attention? When was he in danger?

As we headed to the car, I peered over my shoulder for one final glimpse of the motionless cottontail. Still listening. For a rabbit – near the bottom of the food chain – listening is the difference between life and death.

Are you seeking clarity in your own noisy world? God reminds us: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3 ESV).  

Ears up! Take time to listen.

Lynne Hartke is the author of Under a Desert Sky and the wife of pastor and Chandler City Councilmember Kevin Hartke. She blogs at