I was flat out over the weekend, working on the farm, and then spent Monday driving downstate and closing up a temporary rental house. So I have not had time to write. With luck, tomorrow.
However, as I was driving out of the farm tonight after chores I glimpsed a small face peering out at me from a new hole excavated under the boulder wall D created in 2005.
My friend Alison is not a fan of woodchucks, but I don’t think she grew up on Thornton Burgess’s Adventures of Johnny Chuck (with the charming 1913 illustrations by Harrison Cady, including this one of a woodchuck hibernating in a nightcap and overalls) and Robert Lawson’s grumpy old Porky in Rabbit Hill.
Alison is practical. She worries about holes, and horses and cows snapping their legs.
I think about this, too. But to me no field is a field without a woodchuck. I never saw one as a child in the suburbs, but my reading and rereading of the Green Meadow stories trained my expectations.
The first time I saw a woodchuck on the farm, in the far corner of the north field, it was 2009, I was standing on the unfinished garage ceiling, and I pointed it out to Luke, hugging him with glee.
It was a long time before I caught another glimpse. Then I realized that the boulder walls built by Tommy, D, and Allen over the years at the edges of my pastures had created a woodchuck paradise. There are excavations along the foot of them all.
I will have to do some research and figure out the size of a woodchuck’s territory. I would be interested to know if I have one peripatetic woodchuck or the equivalent of a prairie dog village.