My Mother’s Day surprise wasn’t flowers or chocolates.

It was a nest of baby bunnies.

Working in the garden Sunday afternoon, my husband came running into the house.

“Come out here!” he shouted. “You have to see this!”

And there they were: Six little rabbits nestled in a fluff-filled depression between the bean and potato plots.

I called our county’s wild animal hospital for tips on how to deal with them. I learned that Mama Bunny would only visit twice a day; that her babies would wander off on their own once they turned 4 weeks old.

In the meantime, they’re mine. I check on the bunnies each afternoon and evening to make sure they’re okay. I post Facebook updates. I take pictures and share them with my preschoolers.

The preschoolers are thrilled. Not so much the neighbors or my son.

“They’re cute ’til they eat our lettuce,” one neighbor groused.

“Why are you throwing rocks at my cat?” another demanded. (In my defense, her cat was stalking my babies’ nesting spot.)

“Why are you scaring that cat?” my 16-year-old asked. “Life is natural selection.”

Not on my watch, bub. I’m watching a miracle.

Somehow, these tiny creatures have taken away my desire for meat. Dinners since Sunday have been decidedly non-carnivorous:

  • Mac-and-cheese with spinach;
  • Chick pea and lentil stew; and
  • Cucumber-tomato salads.

I can make a seasonal case for those first two. Not so much the third, which usually graces our table in the heat of mid-August. But even store-bought English cucumbers and hothouse-grown tomatoes impart crunchy, bold flavors when doused with an oregano-spiked red wine dressing.

And if anyone wants to know why we’re heavy on the grains or eating summertime veggie concoctions in May, I have a ready answer:

Blame the bunnies.

Tomato & Cucumber Salad

The secret to this salad is the cucumber’s crunch. Achieve it by salting the slices to remove as much moisture as possible.

  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • Half a red onion, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch rings
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano

Place the cucumber and onion slices in a colander. Add the salt and toss well to combine.

Place the colander in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Right before you’re ready to serve this salad, remove the bowl with the cucumbers and onions from the fridge. Place the vegetables on a clean, dry towel. Wrap them up and wring out any excess liquid.

Place the cucumbers and onions in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and oregano. Season with a couple of grinds of black pepper.

Add as much dressing as you like to your vegetables. You want everything nicely coated but not swimming in liquid.

Taste. Add additional salt if necessary.

Serve immediately.

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