Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I took the piece of rebar and plunged it into the trap. I missed. The groundhog attempted to exit the trap, but couldn't and so the animal faced me. I breathed deeply and struck again.

My intention had been to release the groundhog, but that seemed foolish, impractical. The groundhog was young and retained a cuteness - dark eyes, soft peppery colored fur. With teeth bared, facing the rebar, he was no longer cute. He had not been cute in my imagination when I struggled, gloveless, with a roll of 4' tall metal fence at 10pm the day before we went to the Catskills.

Hysterical, I returned to the house and announced to my husband, "I can't come back to nothing in the garden. To everything eaten. He's eaten the cucumber leaves. I fence one thing and then eats something else. My work, my work..." The groundhog had eaten kale, lettuce and beautiful Hungarian white poppy flowers until I fenced them off, then turned to okra, lupines, cucumbers.

"Maybe you should wait until tomorrow. This is crazy," he said motioning down with the palms of his hands. His 'hold it' gesture made me more determined and furious. I trailed into the darkness gloves in hand.

I already have a fence around our garden, putting up more did feel crazy.

I cursed the groundhog. I had baited the trap with apples, celery, lettuce, carrots, melon, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sweet corn worked.

I took the piece of rebar and plunged it into the trap. I missed. The groundhog attempted to exit the trap, but couldn't and so the animal faced me. I breathed deeply and struck again.

The night before a friend who hunts avidly came over for dinner. "You should have told me. I could have helped."

"Invite you over and ask you to bring dessert  and dispatch the groundhog?" I asked.

"Oh, come on. It's me. You could have asked me," he said.

"I suppose I'll sharpen a stick," I said. It sounded very impractical. When would I have time to sharpen a stick? After my husband and I finished dishes, laundry, kitchen clean up, baby bedtime, mouse trap emptying and resetting, lunch pack-up for the following day - all of which took until 11pm?

"Yeah, maybe I'll sharpen a stick. I guess that's what I'll do." What I really was saying was: would someone please take this groundhog off my hands?

After another discussion, my husband and I agreed to release the groundhog the following morning.

And so when morning came, I loaded a few sticks and rebar into the back of the truck. I thought of my friend Marion who tried to drown a slowly dying groundhog struck by a car. The person who found the groundhog put a box over the creature, hoping he would die. A day later, he had not, so Marion tried a bucket of water. Then she succeeded with a rock.

I thought of the eight year old who killed a groundhog with a rock so he could eat. I heard this story at Tracker School.

I thought of a female farmer friend who also dispatches groundhogs.

The groundhog was fearless. He chattered at me and finally collapsed. Two more strikes and he was dead. I'm sorry, groundhog.

How did it get to be July 17th already?

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