Lucky Chucky

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Have you ever had a chance to really watch a groundhog? Except for occasionally passing one that’s grazing at the roadside, I never had until now. A few days ago I looked out my bathroom window and my attention was instantly captured by a moving, brown, furry bundle pushing its way through the high, weedy grass in our back yard. It sat up turning its small bulk back and forth viewing the yard from every direction – a beautifully fat, furry woodchuck.

Because this part of our yard hasn’t been mowed lately, and has grown wild, he was finding many (apparently) succulent treats that usually wouldn’t be around our house. He must have been finding good eating for some time since this fleshy guy makes Punxsutawney Phil look lean and ordinary. He trundled across the yard with a determined sense of purpose. Was he heading toward the only green tufts left in my little garden?

I used my chives only once this summer in homemade tomato bisque soup. The bright, bushy parsley, though we’ve garnished a few plates with it, here and there, I used only one other time for deviled eggs. I didn’t cook with anything from my garden the way I had wanted to this summer. Now, there were the parsley and chives looking their best and begging to be used.

Fat little chuck didn’t bother them. He waddled back toward our metal storage shed, which is in bad shape and should be torn down and replaced. This woodchuck didn’t see it that way. I could tell that he looked on it as his castle. He hustled to one edge and pushed his big self underneath.

Unaware that I have been admiring his thick, brown fur and sleek little tail, I’ve watched my new neighbor, Chuck, several days in a row, now. He bustled around the yard foraging and pausing to stand and gaze at this territory he has laid claim to. I suppose that he is beefing up to get ready for his winter sleep.

I’ve been wondering what our dog, Lydia, is doing while Chuck make his rounds. Usually she barks at anything that moves. She has either been asleep or too overcome by this new, bold presence to speak.

I’m hoping for more sunny, fall days to enjoy watching Chuck, he may turn out to be a she – Charlene. Next spring, she may have her family in my special, grownup yard where they can all dig burrows!

Oh, well, I’ll share the space. They truly have as much right to the yard as I have. Smart little Chuck/Charlene who doesn’t have to pay taxes!

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