A Hare Away from Disaster

Normally I wouldn’t drive in such bad weather, but I was exhausted and wanted to get home.

By Julie Rae Pennertz, Litchfield, Minnesota

As appeared in

It was one of those dreadful nights we get here in Minnesota in the middle of winter. The moisture in the air gets trapped and a curtain of fog descends all around, mixing with the snow on the ground and the flurries falling from the sky to white out everything. Normally I wouldn’t drive in that kind of weather, but I’d been at a Tupperware party all evening, I was eight months pregnant and I was so exhausted I just wanted to get home already.

I was only on the road for a minute before I regretted my decision not to stay put. The winding country road was totally deserted. My car’s headlights couldn’t penetrate the heavy fog and the snow was getting heavier. A lot heavier. Everything beyond a few feet in front of me was a mystery. I drove slowly. I wasn’t quite sure where I was, though I knew the highway should be coming up pretty soon. Shivering, I cranked up the heat. The loud blowers did their work, cocooning me from the bitter cold outside. I prayed insistently for guidance.

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All at once, a small animal darted out in front of me, just within the farthest arc of my headlights. I hit the brakes and came to a skidding stop.

It was a rabbit. A snowshoe rabbit, with frosty white fur and amber eyes. I inched the car forward, but the rabbit would not get out of the way. Instead, he darted back and forth about three feet in front of my car. I tapped the horn. Instead of hopping away like a rabbit would, he sat still and stared at me, his whiskered nose twitching. He was not going to let me pass. Come on, you silly rabbit, move, I thought a little impatiently.

At that moment the fog ahead swirled and lifted. A bright white light seemed to come from out of nowhere. The ground shook. A massive freight train roared by just a short distance beyond the stubborn sitting rabbit. Then, with one last twitch of his nose, the rabbit darted off out of sight.

On these country roads, rail crossings have no gates, no flashing lights. No way for a tired driver on a foggy winter’s night to be warned of a speeding oncoming train. Except for a rabbit that behaved the way no normal rabbit ever would.