“Who’s back” you say? “My little friend!” I say excitedly. All last spring, summer and early fall I would watch for a little woodchuck or if you prefer groundhog that seemed to make its home in a field on the side of RT 44. I drive by there at least 4 times a week to go to work and sometimes errands take me past there on my days off.
It became a game that I embraced enthusiastically to see how many times I could spot the little animal. If I didn’t see him or it, not sure of its gender, for a couple of days I would worriedly search the side of the road for a squashed little body but I never saw one and eventually Mr/Ms Groundhog would be back.
A few times when I was not rushing from one place to another I pulled over and managed to get pictures to prove to my doubting co-workers that there really was wildlife to be seen in our little urban corner of the world.
I began to think of the little rodent as my “furry, little friend” and was disappointed when I wouldn’t see him. He disappeared for several weeks during the summer when we had a drought and the field he was in turned dry and brown. I wasn’t sure if he had moved on or died. Life in the wild is hard enough but with cars, exhaust, lawn mowers and pesticides, throw in drought and the poor thing didn’t have an easy time.
Even so once the rains came and the grass got green again, he was back. Along about September or October I saw him for the last time. I watched and watched and even stopped and checked for signs that his burrow under the rocks was being used…nothing.
I don’t know if the little creatures hibernate but it seemed too early for that with lots of grass still available. I kept an eye out all fall and even in the winter because habits die-hard but there was never any sign of him so imagine my surprise when I saw something brown moving at the edge of that same field as I drove past! I slowed down and there he was! I didn’t have time to hang out and watch him today but it’s enough to know that he or another of his kind survived the winter and will be back to entertain me for another summer.