Friday, February 02, 2018

In Which We Frighten Large Rodents

     I feel sorry for the poor groundhog.  Puxatawny Phil -- and his many relatives -- spend this day being awakened early, surrounded by bright lights and looming primates, and expected to perform.  Small wonder, then, that the local meterologially-prognosticating groundhog ducked its head and tried to hide behind its front paws when the camera was pointed its way.

     Why do we do this?  I'm not sure; perhaps because the media weren't sure what to make of Candlemas, or the tradition that good weather on that day (which is, in fact, this day) meant Winter would continue longer.


John in Philly said...

The good news is that we don't have to go to a fire swamp to see the rodents of unusual size.

Roberta X said...

Indeed. The bad news is, they don't attack -- even though the usual groundhog is a very grumpy creature.

tljhound said...

Groundhogs prefer to retreat but when they find their avenue of escape blocked some turn to face the aggressor and hold their ground and a few do attack. Growing up in vegetable farming country groundhogs were hated and most families went to great lengths to kill them anytime or anyway that presented itself. Guns, traps, farm dogs, hoes and clubs, kicking and stomping, swerving to turn them into roadkill, nothing was off limits. They had no Geneva Convention protections so it was common to run flexible steel hose from a tractor exhaust into one of many holes in a colony and try to kill any that escaped gassing by any of the above methods.

The never quite achieved goal was extirpation, groundhog genocide. Word of a hog gassing often attracted a crowd of determined volunteers, with good reason. One groundhog can eat 200 tender young cabbage or melon plants in a night, plants that with hard work and good luck represented hope for a decent income. Unchecked, their numbers expanded and spread across the countryside like a plague.

Back to killer groundhogs. When I graduated from sneakers to my first pair of work boots a life and death struggle resulted in a surprisingly big chunk out of the sole of one boot when a cornered hog charged me, teeth bared, from a few paces and I put my foot up to protect myself. In the end the critter died after what my 12 year old self considered an epic battle. It was not the last such incident and many of my family and friends told the same sort of story.

It's been more than a few decades since my daily bread depended on bringing in a good crop but I still retain my visceral hatred of the @**#!!'s. And I don't trust or give a darn what one has to say about the weather.