A mother’s sorrow

June 26, 2007

Several weeks ago, at dusk, I encountered a large groundhog grazing in my vegetable garden. I tried to chase her away and back into the woods where her burrow is. She stood her ground and refused to back down. Odd behavior for a groundhog -usually they amble back into the woods when they hear me coming. She stared me down.

About this time, Lucy, began to yip excitedly – the way she does when she has cornered something. I told her to “leave it” and she backed off and there was a face only a mother could love – a baby groundhog! Cornered and trapped and utterly terrified. I held the dog back as she ran under the fence to her mama. They took off for the safety of their burrow.

The next time I saw that baby, her face had been ripped off by Lucy.

The previous evening, I heard Lucy and some commotion in the yard – but didn’t think too much of it. In the morning, she and I set out to weed the garden. I weed, and she waits for grub larva and eats them like peanuts. This morning, she was off rustling in the bushes. As I walked up towards the house, I noticed she had something brown and furry between her paws and she was possessively hunched over it. “Leave it!” and she did.

It took me a few moments to recognize what she had been gnawing on. It was the baby groundhog. Much larger than six weeks ago, but still a baby. We buried it on the other side of the creek. (Well my husband did – I was feeling really nauseous at the mess Lucy had made of that baby’s face and head.)

This morning I went out to harvest my cabbage. I had about a dozen heads that I have been nursing along – hand picking cabbage worms, watering, weeding, and waiting for them to plump up and get ready to become coleslaw. The entire bed had been eaten to the ground.She had been nibbling on them – a few leaves at a time – but last night – in her sorrow – my imagination of her sorrow, she lashed out with her sharp teeth and destroyed something that was precious to me.

Point taken.

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