Yesterday I was standing in my kitchen when I heard a scrabbling, scratching noise that sounded like it was coming from the back door. Was it my problematic new cat, Miss Marple? I put nothing past Miss Marple at this point. She could have gotten out and then realized that life on the streets was (still) not great. She could be randomly scratching on the back door just to let me know that I suck.  I walked over to the back door. Miss Marple was on neither side of it.

In the back yard, a groundhog appeared.  It was plump and brown. Its tail was squirrel-like but much smaller. Sort of like a fluffy brown diamond.  It was  substantial and brown. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a groundhog because I have never seen one that close before. It looked like a beaver-squirrel.  But an internet search that evening confirmed its groundhogedness.

The groundhog paused, flanks heaving. Then it took off toward the back of my fence, where I know there’s a pretty good egress.

What happened? A groundhog barreling through an urban backyard in broad daylight is not something that happens lightly. I didn’t look to see what was after it, but I thought for a moment about displaced wildlife and the horrors of the city.

But groundhogs do live in the city. Like coyotes, they find little pockets where they can fit it. Why was I so sure this was a tragedy? My mind wandered to the types of movies where the hero shoots through someone’s backyard during a chase, perhaps stealing a pair of pants on the way. I continued to stare out the window, seeing the groundhog as part of a Coen brothers movie, part of his own adventure, even though I could no longer see the actual groundhog.

I changed his story a little bit. He looked a bit more like a Wes Anderson groundhog. He was being followed by someone he used to be friends with, and now he’s off in his burrow making a weird art project that no one understands and writing experimental poetry for a lady groundhog who will never love him back. But someday he will find true love.

This groundhog has a pretty good life. Pretty, pretty good.

Honestly, even if something really bad was chasing him, I think he made a pretty good escape.


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