Yes, that’s me holding a baby bunny. It was soft, and scared, and it I immediately adored it. And in case you were wondering, yep, those are EMT pants, and I was indeed riding along that day. The sun was just touching the horizon, after a rather slow 10 hours spent hopping around town testing hydrants with three of the guys on Engine 2315. I realized at some point during the day I’d lost my nomex hood, and I was making a valiant effort to find it when I first thought I heard my name. I kept looking, assuming I misheard. It got louder, though, and I looked up. What could they want with me? Had something gone awry with me riding the engine? I certainly hoped not. Feeling the rumble of the engine underneath my feet, soaking my hands in the spray of the hydrant, and strolling down the sidewalk in too-big bunker pants had been the hightlight of my week. Following the voice out to the bay doors, I caught sight of several guys looking and pointing at the grass. Their banter ceased as I approached.
“What’s up?” I asked, sticking my hands in my pockets.
My advisor pointed towards the feet of the firefighter standing in the grass, his boots staying perfectly still. “Come look at what’s by his foot.” He directed, fighting a smile. I quickly glanced around. Why were they all so quiet? I finally peered down, and after a moment, saw the tiny, wrigling shape that had caused such a ruckus. A baby rabbit sat huddled among the grass, perfectly content to sleep in the shadow of the boots standing over it.
“Oh it’s so cute!” I made an attempt to capture it, but missed, scared to squash it’s fragile body. It scurried away, brushing past my hands.
I laughed along with them at my feeble attempt, and trotted after it. Someone chimed in, “And there’s tons more in the yard. It’s got a whole bunch of siblings. Bet you could catch one if you tried. They’ve been real still while we’ve been out here.” As I chased the furball down the yard and eventually swept it up, thanks in part to a trash can and a willing set of hands; I wondered, had it actually crossed their minds that I would enjoy holding the little rascal? The thought put a smile on my face and I headed back towards the group, proudly clutching my new pet.
Thinking back on that moment brings a smile to face, as does the picture I posted with it. I hesitated to ask someone to take it, but soon realized how unfounded that hesitation was. He readily accepted the phone and snapped several photos. That picture makes me smile for another reason, too. Initially, I tried to ignore how I looked in the photo. I directed everyone’s attention to the ball of fur sleeping in my hands. But eventually, I saw something that changed that perspective. The navy pants, (5.11, in case you were curious) wet t shirt, and even the dirty hands captured who I was. It captured something I had wanted to see since starting my first blog post. I no longer aspire to be an EMT, an Explorer, or a highschool grad. I am one. Liking who you are is too often a battle; a battle many people never win. Here, at last, I could look at a picture of myself, dirty hands and all, and like it! And the weirdest part? Other people liked it too!
Minus the stories of how they’d ‘accidentally’ discovered nests of these little guys in the front yard before…..with the MOWER, it was a peaceful evening. How differently things could be if I hadn’t had the courage to ask for a picture. I discovered a lot that day: how to spin a hydrant wrench, how to ask for a favor, however, my nomex hood remains undiscovered. As a matter of fact, I picked up a spare one, and decreased my gear donning time, so….
Learn to like the skin you’re in. It’s worth the effort, I promise.