Monday, February 01, 2010

The Rabbit and the Miata

This isn't a story about a Volkswagen and a Mazda, although it should be.

My winter Miata has been sitting inactive for most of the winter. By that I mean it hasn't turned a wheel since I put the snow tires on a few months ago. While this may seem an odd state of affairs for what is ostensibly a winter car, there is a very good reason for it.

We had too much winter.

The Miata stands four feet tall with five inches of ground clearance. My winter Miata actually stands an inch or so lower than that thanks to some suspension changes. Not a problem if we have an average December snowfall - a mere 5.5 inches.

We did not have an average December snowfall.

Omaha saw record amounts of snow in December of 2009. And the record wasn't just broken - it was shattered. The old record for the month was 19.9 inches. This December? 24.6 inches, officially. Too damn much, unofficially.

We won't even mention the drifts.

Actually, yes: let's mention the drifts. The first foot of snow (what a horrible thing to say) had fallen by December 8. The seven inches that fell that day were accompanied by sustained winds up to 40mph, gusting to 52. That translates to what the locals call a blizzard. What the transplants like me call it can't be reproduced here. We are trying so very hard to be family-friendly. Also, Mom is reading this.

Hi, Mom!

Anyway, the drifts. Those winds drove the snow so hard that in some places the ground was totally bare. In others, it was under several feet of snow. One of those places was my not-quite-four-feet-tall Miata.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the snow had just been up to the windows and spilling over the hood. No. That I could have dealt with. That snow could have been cleared. Eventually, it was. No, the problem was that those driving winds drove the snow under the car. They packed it so firmly that movement - and excavation - was quite impossible. It was the first time I have ever seen a car get high-centered while sitting still.


And of course, this being the Midwest, none of the snow melted. No. Subzero temperatures (those were the daily highs, folks) saw to that. Another foot fell just before Christmas. I wasn't here to witness that, having temporarily escaped to the East Coast (where a foot of snow had fallen just before my arrival - what am I, the cure for global warming?) - but when I came back, there it was. A snow drift shaped like a Miata.

The snow did eventually melt. Well, most of it. It got downright warm - might have even made it to 40 a few days! But by that time the battery had gone flat from disuse and extreme cold. What with one thing and another, I didn't get around to jump-starting it until today. It fired up after a few minutes of charging off a neighbor's pickup, and while it was sitting there warming up I cleared away the morning's accumulation of snow (yes, more snow.) Then I decided that I might as well pop the hood and see how things looked underneath. (If you're wondering how I jump-started the car without opening the hood, the answer is that the battery is in the trunk. Weight balance. Also a pretty good idea considering that most people pull into a parking spot and you can't always get at the front of a car when you need to jump it. Slick engineering, no?)

And now we get to the part of the story that explains the title. It has been a very cold winter, and it was snowing this morning, and when I opened the hood I found a rabbit nestled on top of the engine. I let out a yell and the rabbit shot through the space between hood and windshield, did a 180-degree turn while moving up the slick glass, and launched back in the opposite direction. It was beautiful. He was last seen high-tailing it (cotton-tailing it?) around the corner of the nearest apartment.

Most people check their fluids when they open the hood. Not me. I check for wildlife. This isn't the first time I've found an animal in a car, after all. All I can say is that that is one lucky rabbit. I was about to go for a long drive to charge the battery, and I suspect that he would have been well done by the time I got home. That's assuming he hadn't tried to escape and gotten caught in the belts, a possible outcome at which I shudder.

I've heard of supercharged Rabbits, but this is ridiculous.

Still, all's well that ends well; the Miata runs, the rabbit lives, and we both have a story to tell. Two feet of snow and a rabbit on the engine. Winter in Omaha. What a country.


Blogger Anon e Mouse Jr. said...

Awww... cute little furball!

Glad to hear the rabbit got out all right. (And if you want to see a rabbit in another strange place, go here: )

Until next time...

Anon e Mouse Jr.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous オテモヤン said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:44 PM  

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