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On borrowed time

A large white rabbit near our house is now living on borrowed time.

Part of a domestic rabbit “experiment” last fall, the animal was set free by neighbor’s friends who had rabbits in cages. The herd needed thinning after a while. So, several were set free.

At least one over-wintered. Up at dawn to plant the garden on a cracking cold March morning, I was back inside within minutes, rubbing my eyes. My wife cracks up relating to others: “He said he was still half-asleep — he said he’d seen a giant white rabbit with fiery red eyes.”

She and our daughter call it “Stuart,” after a character in a fable my wife made up years ago to help Ava go to sleep at night. “The cat’s friend — a white rabbit,” she explains. “His name was Stuart.”

I am wary of the attachment that comes with naming, but I admit to liking blanco grande. We’re all accustomed to it relaxing under trees or munching contentedly at dusk in the driveway. Stock-still, it is, well, reassuring.

OK, I also have in mind a different experiment: maybe this large specimen’s interaction will help out the hind-quarters of our local, wild gene pool. I love rabbit. Once, on a trip to Italy, I ate only rabbit in restaurants, to compare different regional preparations.

Here in Garrett County, the summer garden is an important part of our business plan. We sustain ourselves from from April to November. We can, dehydrate, preserve. I warned the family that if found in the garden, the white rabbit is a goner.

“We cannot have him eating our greens,” I told them.

Sunday morning, at 6:30, there he was. As he zigged and zagged away, I saw his mouth, stuffed with speckled deer tongue. “Don’t come back, Stuart,” I thundered.

Back at the house, my wife declared: “You can’t shoot Stuart.”

BizBuzz Best Buys: Preoccupied with my own Barbera this week, I must skip a red recommendation — conveniently leaving extra space for Jean-Luc Colombo 2011 Cape Bleue Rhone Valley Rosé: A most beguiling color, almost blanc de noir, yet still a dry pink from, unusually, Syrah with Mourvedre. This has an aroma/flavor I look for in my own rosé: orange sherbert push-ups. Not that sweet of course, but evocative of… Strongly acidic, yet tender, engaging, light, vivacious. What summer food doesn’t go with this? $10.