By Connie Denney
What stands on two legs sometimes, runs very fast on four legs, is dreaded by gardeners, has its own day set aside on the calendar AND lends its name to a movie title? If you answered “groundhog,” you are correct.
Although the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day has brought many laughs to many people over the years, the animal itself does not routinely hear human chuckles. The following story is a case in point.
The Riddle household is a positive place. Having lived in other spaces and places (Miami and Atlanta among them), Dee and James love being in Erwin and making the house they bought here several years ago their home. Hobbies include gardening. Having fresh pickings for foods they enjoy preparing and sharing is part of the whole idea. James spent hours converting an old outbuilding to the “Shibana,” which Dee enjoyed planning for and decorating. There, the stage is set for the excitement of a few weeks ago.
James first spotted the intruder at the bottom of their back steps. It was checking out the garden from a distance until James scared it away. “We had no idea where he came from or exactly what he was, but he was surely quick,” Dee says. She knew it was not a cute bunny she had seen before!
A couple of days later they noticed it had eaten lettuce and moved on to the broccoli. A couple of sightings later they realized it would scurry off in the same direction and investigated. Going around behind her Shibana, Dee saw the groundhog go underneath the building into its burrow. “Well, I almost jumped out of my skin, never having seen one so up close and personal,” Dee remembers vividly. “From whence it came or where it went after this, I do not know,” she says, adding that a “neighborhood hero” with a live trap took it away that very evening.
A few miles away at Carey’s Salon on Chestoa Pike Kim Carey Williams recently finished a haircut, then headed outside for her next bit of work. She had a live trap readied to set for their unwelcome visitor. A groundhog had burrowed under the building. She said it would stick its nose out from its hiding place and look at her. Husband Robert told her it waved at him! But, victory was theirs after trying the second trap. Kim thinks the first was too small.
If all this sounds like a sequel to the words in this space a month ago, there’s good reason. Groundhogs galore!
When I checked in with Cousin Pat, whose unwelcome guests were a topic last time, she said, “Yes, yes, yes! They’re still coming around, unaware they have long ago worn out their welcome.” They do have to share, though, with the deer, who are welcome visitors at her place, which I call a Wildlife Refuge. She saw two young deer recently as they ran and played, while their mother stood nearby. She has seen as many as six deer at once.
Be safe. Stay safe.