Saturday was the check-out day. We got up early enough, despite how late we'd been up playing board games, for everyone to shower and pack up and load stuff into cars. We did pretty well matching food to time; we had maybe four cans of soda left over, and similarly small and portable amounts of bread and eggs and whatnot going home in bunny_hugger's parents' cooler.
We cleaned the house, at least reasonably so, without thinking about whether we should strip the covers off the beds to save the cleaning crew some time. There were a few little bits of damage to the house: a broken plate, a damaged pillowcase, small stuff like that, all of which we owned up to. We didn't mention the clogged-and-unclogged drain. Small stuff especially compared to whoever rented the place before us. We got a glowing review on AirBnB from the owner for being low-hassle and for cleaning the place up. Later we learned he gave glowing reviews to all his guests, except the ones immediately before us who seem to have inspired the no-fireworks rule and had left a heavy trash bin full of stuff behind. While we don't know the story, we do have hopes we'll be able to rent the house again in future.
bunny_hugger's brother and his girlfriend figured to stay in town, as they were flying out from Cherry Capital Airport later in the afternoon. bunny_hugger's parents figured to drive them to town and also make a farewell lunch out of it. And they wanted us to come along, but this left the problem of what to do with our pet rabbit, who even if he hadn't been recovering from fly strike could still hardly be left in a car for an hour or so, but also couldn't be brought into a restaurant. bunny_hugger's mother proposed she skip out on lunch, and sit with him on a park bench or something while we ate, and then she'd make do best she could. This seemed absurdly self-effacing even for a mother and we said no, we'd simply drive back with him and regret missing the last lunch. We hugged and thanked everyone and made plans to meet up again, when we could.
We often do something to take the edge off the end of a trip. There'd be nowhere we could really stop on the drive home except to barely start the drive. I suggested we make one last little visit to the Omena Beach, and we spent a few minutes on the rock-heavy sand.
Then we wondered what our pet rabbit would make of that. We'd never had the chance to take him to a beach, and given his shaky state realized he might not last to next summer when he might see a beach again. He's not so shaky now, but he is still quite old, and might not make it. So we got him and set him on the beach.
He pawed at the novel surface, and did a happy shake, and did the last thing we'd have ever imagined. He hopped --- well, he dragged himself --- toward the water.
Rabbits are not renowned as water-loving creatures, swamp rabbits excepted. He protests vigorously when we get him wet for one reason or another. We had no idea what might happen when the water waved on shore and said, you know, you won't be happy. But the water came before we could grab him, and it washed over his forelegs and up to his dewlap. And he seemed all right with it. Didn't huff, didn't make any signs of distress, just ... accepted it. Waited. Took another wave stoically. He maybe even enjoyed it.
We would drag him back from the waterline, and he made another rush at it. That's all fun but we did move him back far enough that he couldn't get at the water; he could just flop over and gaze at it, best he can. And then we noticed a fly and figured that was enough of that. Our pet rabbit enjoyed five or ten minutes on the beach, and apparently, really enjoyed it.
We would speculate about this all the drive back, and since then. Did he understand the beach? Did he recognize a vaster expanse of water than he had ever seen in his life? Did he connect the experience of being dampened by the bay with the experience of being put in the sink and rinsed off? Did he rush back to the water because he liked it or because awful as it might be the novelty was too compelling? And what might he have done were he younger and had truly functional legs? Is it possible that our remarkable pet rabbit would have been the rare swimmer bunny?
There's no way we can tell, of course. But in the months since then he has taken with more ease and less resistance to being rinsed in the sink, when he needs to be. That may be just he's learned he can't overpower or escape us on this point. That may be he's understood that however miserable it might be at the time, it's for a good cause (reducing skin burns, mostly, and cleaning where he can't anymore). Or maybe ... he doesn't hate the touch of water now that he's seen the real thing.
Of all the sights and experiences of the trip north the most wondrous might be that, our pet rabbit's first and presumably last visit to the beach.
Trivia: Carl Linde, pioneer of mechanical refrigeration, was drawn to the problem by an 1870 contest sponsored by the Mineral Oil Society of Halle. The contest's goal was developing a system to maintain 25 tons of paraffin for as long as a year at -5 Celsius. Source: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, Tom Shachtman.
Currently Reading: Big Dish: Building America's Deep Space Connection To the Planets, Douglas J Mudgway.