Groundhogs are calm. I know this because before I moved from Missouri, I discovered in my back yard a furry beast about the size of a beaver. It’s face was similar to a beaver’s, but it did not have a flat, leathery beaver tail.
I thought it was a woodchuck. I kept watching for the wood pile beside my garage to be chucked, but none of it ever was. I knew it wasn’t a badger because that animal has a kind of crouching stance with a fierce face, plus a distinctive striping pattern in its coat.
Then one evening I saw this uninvited guest had been joined by a buddy. When I approached them to discuss the matter, they both dashed under my back deck. This was alarming. Two burrowing-type varmints who flee under my back deck for protection suggests there will be baby varmints arriving after the winter snooze is over. These events do not bode well for the longevity of said deck. Or for the odor in my house, for that matter.
You need to understand the context of this invasion in order to appreciate my sense of outrage, betrayal — I don’t know what, something stronger than irritation, that’s for sure. My life had been full of turmoil on almost every front that summer. I thought my life could not be more fraught with conflict . . . and then I discovered the invasion from denizens of the wild.
The neighbor children announced they were feeding the groundhogs in their yard because they were so cute. Yes, I had seen the furry bodies trundle to the northwest corner of my acre and disappear through the fence, but I couldn’t see the point of encouraging them to stay for dinner!
Then my neighbors to the south expressed their delight that groundhogs had come to visit. I didn’t share their enthusiasm and offered to send them over. Permanently. These burrowing rodents weren’t visiting me; they were staying. They had taken up residence. They had moved in. We were practically roommates.
I watched closely for several weeks and my first pronouncement about groundhogs involved a matter of temperament. No matter how much I shouted at them and banged spoons on metal pans outside their hole under my house, the groundhogs remained calm and immovable.