Just so you know, groundhogs are members in good standing of the rodent family. They average about 20 inches long and live throughout much of North America in grassy lowlands. They’re mostly vegetarian (smart critters, I’d say) but sometimes they have insects for dessert.
Jody and I moved from Lethbridge, Alberta to London, Ontario in 1990. After three years of Occupational Therapy studies at Western University, Jody was hired by Parkwood Hospital. In 1994, we moved to Union, creating a 35-minute drive to work. Our route took us past a huge grassy area near Parkwood, grounds that belonged to Victoria Hospital.
So began my love affair with groundhogs. They were all over that meadow, poking their hairy little heads out of their burrows. It wasn’t just an empty field full of long grass … there was life! Every morning, I looked forward to waddling brown beings. And most times they obliged, putting in an appearance before their adoring public. I was happy.
And then one day, one year, they were gone. And they never came back. Not in 1998. Not in 2008. Never. I was sad about losing my friends without even a goodbye. The rumour was that they were poisoned. I suppose the rumour was true.
Not once have I seen a groundhog since the disappearance. Until today. And it wasn’t at Parkwood. I was driving along Highbury Avenue north of London, on my way to St. Patrick’s School near Lucan. Off to my right was a rough lawn, with some bumps on it. And a groundhog was skittering along from one burrow to the next! Oh my. Thank you, Lord. Soon I was past the scene but I held that brown guy in my heart all the way to St. Pat’s, a little smile on my face.