Shavuos, Last Week in Alaska, and the Mystery of the Missing Rabbit

It’s been an interesting week.  We had Shavuos, but first, we closed on our old house in a mad rush of moving boxes and furniture.  Through some coincidences, we found a place to live temporarily until our flight leaves Alaska.  An acquaintance living on the east coast reached out to us, asking us if we’d like to sublet her duplex, which would help her out with paying the rent.  Mr. Safek, being the careful guy he is, called the landlord to make sure this was all right with him.

Well…

It turns out that our acquaintance is behind on her rent and getting evicted at the end of the month.  On the bright side, he was happy to work out a separate lease with us for the 11 days we needed somewhere to be.  The only catch was that we’d have to live around her things for that time period.  So…on we proceeded.  We were more focused on the house closing and just thankful we wouldn’t have to pay the high cost of hotel rooms now that tourist season is beginning.

After closing, exhausted and sweaty, we moved ourselves into the duplex.  It was cluttered, with laundry everywhere and plenty to clean, but the thing that was most odd was that there was grass…everywhere.  There was grass in the bathtub, on the floors, even on the counters.  I swept and cleaned grass from the strangest of places, particularly since grass only began growing here again last month.  For some reason, I just had this feeling of foreboding, as if there were creepy horror movie music playing as I cleaned.  There also were no blackout shades, so the sun kept us up and sleep was tough to catch and keep.

It is in this mindset that we entered the Shavous holiday, exhausted and loopy from lack of sleep and living with the mystery of the grass everywhere.

While doing laundry on erev Shabbos (the day before the Sabbath), I noticed a pan of rodent bedding, again the grass!  This pan had droppings that were definitely from a larger rodent, but although there was evidence of some kind of pet everywhere, we did not find any actual rodents.  Again, I felt an uneasy gut feeling, as if I were witness to something that had just gone awry.  We settled into an exhausted Shabbos and Shavous, reflecting on how the Jews lived in an in-between space when they received the Torah, too and how every life has an in-between space now and then.

And then, Mr. Safek asked to speak with me in the bedroom Shavuos afternoon.  I expected some kind of conference about the children.

“Don’t put anything unsealed in the freezer,” he explained, gravely, “There is a dead rabbit in the freezer.”

A DEAD RABBIT IN THE FREEZER.

Suddenly, the grass everywhere seemed more like a crime scene out of a tv drama.  Apparently, at some point, our acquaintance’s pet rabbit had died and instead of taking it anywhere to be laid to rest…she stuffed the bunny in the freezer along with her various pork products I’d already seen.  I felt almost dizzy.  I’d already been working around a treif kitchen, but…a DEAD RABBIT IN THE FREEZER?!?!  My mind conjured images from the move “Fatal Attraction.”

As I calmed down from my sleep deprived shock, I came to my senses and remembered my farm upbringing.  I had neighbors who ate rabbits.  I’ve even eaten rabbit before, when I was young.  (Spoiler alert if you’ve never eaten one…they really don’t have much flavor.  You aren’t missing anything!)  A dead rabbit in the freezer is no more treif than the pork she already had in there and our food was sealed and separated from hers.  Yes…it’s still freaky to have a rabbit in there with fur and all, but somehow…it also seems rather Alaskan.

Finally, we were able to laugh about it, although we agreed to keep the unfortunate bunny hidden from the children and after Shavuos, we informed the landlord so that he doesn’t have an unpleasant surprise.

Such is our last week in Alaska, spending Shavuos with a very unusual houseguest.

Beyond that, we’ve been taking walks around the largest floatplane base in the world and I’m planning to steal a day away from my work to climb a small mountain with the kids.  In one week, we board our flight, leaving such Alaskan adventures in our memories.

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