Groundhog? Or Woodchuck?

It’s been so warm lately that I half expect the hibernating skunks to show up. Or at least some robins. I remember one January, a couple years back, the robins stopped by for a visit, but just for a day or two and then they got wise and headed south again.

It seems like every spring there comes a day when one sleepy skunk waddles up the hill and noses around under our deck. Usually that day is closer to Easter, though, than Valentine’s Day. The first year we were out here and I saw one heading my way, I panicked. We were expecting a yard full of kids the next day for an Easter egg hunt, and I envisioned stench lines rising above our yard like in a cartoon strip, a sly skunk laughing up his black and white sleeve while little teary children were kept at bay by the terrible stink.

Thankfully, he wandered around a little while, bumping into things, and then hurried back into Iowa where, hopefully, he left the Iowan egg-hunters alone, too.

The skunk, heading back to Iowa.

We have had other furry visitors come up to our deck over the years. Opossums, raccoons, woodchucks…or is it “Ground Hog”? Apparently, it’s both, though I’ve never heard of any Pennsylvania town celebrating “Woodchuck Day”. It just doesn’t have the right ring to it.

I am not overly fond of woodchucks. One lived below our front porch for awhile. Several ate our green pumpkins one year. And I’m pretty sure that one chucked all the wood that he possibly could, leaving behind only scraps to burn in our fireplace.

The truth is, though I grew up in a small town and really don’t consider myself to be a “city girl”, I am also a far cry from a country girl. Coyotes at night – while cool, in theory – are creepy in reality. ‘Possums that show up suddenly right outside my ground-level bedroom window give me shivers and the feral cats that sing to each other at night make me feel like the bad guy in a Garfield cartoon.

A friendly neighborhood opossum.

But for now, despite the warm sunny afternoons, all of the animals seem to be asleep. All except that poor woodchuck in Punxsuatawney, PA. Oops, I mean “groundhog”. Perhaps I could dig out a willing groundhog around here and we could become famous for having “Bigelow Butch” the weather-forecasting woodchuck.

Don’t hold your breath, though. The animal I’d be more likely to dig out would be a skunk. And everyone knows that skunks can’t predict the weather.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve actually seen more wildlife since I’ve lived in town (Faribault) than when I lived on the farm (near Vesta) during my childhood. I suppose the woods behind our house have something to do with this. We’ve seen raccoons, woodchucks (not ground hogs), possums and, yes, even skunks, in our backyard. And just last week my son saw four deer sprint across the street two houses away. We don’t live on the edge of town either, although we are down the hill from a city park.

    Gretchen, I love this phrase from your post: “…a sly skunk laughing up his black and white sleeve…” You nailed it with that writing gem.

  2. How funny that you had to move into town to get the furry visitors! We get deer and other things too (like the beavers in that previous post) but the ones I mentioned today are the ones that have come up to or on the deck. I saw a fox once or twice – very neat.

    Thanks for your comment about the skunk line! 🙂

  3. Jenny

    The deer around here will come right up on to your deck if you have wonderful potted plants for them to eat! I can’t believe I used to pray for them during hunting season. Now that I have a garden my prayers have changed!

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