Monday, May 5, 2008

You Talkin' To Me?!?!

High: 66° F
Low: 40° F
Conditions: Mostly sunny and calm.
Ari and I were halfway through our morning run when the groundhog (Marmota monax) raced across our path. I’m enough of an amateur runner to not use that last verb lightly. Racing is what you do when put speed and stamina to the test in search of a personal best. I don’t know that the groundhog was necessarily doing those things, but I want to believe he was—mostly because he ran a heck of a lot faster than I ever could.

That’s not saying a huge amount, of course. I’ve always been a tortoise kind of girl in a sport filled with long, lithe hares. That’s suited me just fine, and even Ari feigns patience with me as we churn out our 9-minute training miles for an hour or so every other day. If dogs could break a sweat, this one certainly wouldn’t when out with me. Still, running together is a great way to see the world, and I at least believe one of us is getting exercise—even if that person will never compete with those lean runners in the front of the pack at any race.

Being bested by a lissome coed in matching shorts and jogbra is one thing. Getting smoked by a pudgy rodent with squat little legs too small for his body is quite another. Still, that’s precisely what happened today.

As usual, it was the caninaturalist who first spotted the only other runner on the road. She took off in bounding pursuit, trailing me and my exercise induced asthma loudly behind. For the briefest fraction of a second, it looked like we might be gaining on Mr. Groundhog. But then he was gone. Or he should have been gone. No, this brazen icon of spring was so confident in his speed that he opted to slow down long enough to stare us down from a nearby rock wall. Nature trash-talking, if you will. Naturally, Ari and I were both furious. We barked in unison, but to no avail. This groundhog was smug—you could tell.

We’re used to rodent bravado around here. Unlike Punxsatawny Phil, who finds himself pried out of burrow each February, our groundhogs lounge deep underground until about this time every year. Then, they start popping up one by one along the local roads and highways, surveying their fiefdoms and chastising all who pass by. By the height of summer, it’s not uncommon to pass 20 of them on a drive about that long in miles. We’ve always been amused by this assertive sense of self—this projection of confident entitlement. That is, until it clearly critiqued our morning exercise regimen.


The groundhog waited until we were almost on top of him before leaping into his giant hole. Ari was halfway inside herself before I had enough oxygen to persuade her come back out. Frankly, we’re both still smarting over the incident. Tonight, we carbo load. Tomorrow, we will be avenged.

30 comments:

Robin said...

GREAT story!

Me & my puppies said...

Oh Kathryn ~ Don't feel bad, I can be out ran by a snail!!

dmitri said...

Those things can be psycho. You only need to see Bill Murray as Carl in Caddyshack to know how they operate. Underground and vicious, in every sense of the word. I was once sleeping on a deck and had one run across my feet at 3 am. The same one used to face off against my beagle on summer afternoons in a turf war. Brought the beagle right to the end of his tether and knew exactly how close he could get.
As usual, your writing sounds more bookworthy than blog like. I know some people prefer the emoticons and im/tm style, but we think you should keep to the standard of writing you're upholding.

henbogle said...

After the neighbor's colony of groundhogs descended upon my garden and ATE all the flowers I was attempting to grow for my backyard wedding, I've had a particular loathing for the little rodent. I say smoke him. Load the carbs, catch him, and fry him up for dinner. I have some recipes if you need one.

sue1101 said...

Great post, Kathryn. They always make me smile.

Lorenza said...

I have a picture in my mind about the whole episode!
Kisses and hugs
Lorenza

Island Rambles Blog said...

I could just see the whole thing unfold....each of your blogs is like a walk with ari for me ...so wonderful for us without our dogs now....cheers.

Blue said...

What a terrific story!
You had me smiling over my breakfast.
I'm no runner either.

Best wishes, pats & pets
Blue

Simba said...

Dropping by to say hello. Hope you had a good weekend.

Simba x

Gary,Charity,Katie&Louis said...

What a fun adventure. You guys have very exciting lives. I think Katie would like to be a canine naturalist, but she would move a lot slower than Ari. There wouldn't be any chance of her catching that groundhog.

I like Ari's new harness. Thanks for telling me about it.

Turbo the Sibe said...

I would be honored to have an honorary degree!

My Human wanted me to tell you that she saw about 20 scarlet tanagers in the driveway this morning.

The Army of Four said...

Wowzers! The nerve of that guy!
Mom thinks he's kind of cute, in a rodentiary kinda way. I'd love to stare at him!
Play bows,
Zim

Gunner said...

So Ari does it mean you get to re-live that day over and over until you catch that rascally groundhog?

Don't let him bite you on the nose!

Gunner

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

My mom doesn't do the run and/or jog thing - BUT we do a very lovely walk!

BTW, did woo give the stoopid whistlepig a piece of your mind?!?

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra

The Army of Four said...

Hey Ari! I just tagged you in a new game! Stop by our blog for details!
Play bows,
Zim

Eve said...

Ha Ha Ha!!!! Kathryn...Ari....I'm all tuckered out from just re-living this adventure!!!
Tomorrow...tomorrow............

Holly said...

What? You didn't get to dig in that hole? Your human is mean!

Holly

Gus and Louie said...

Ground hogs are pretty cool. There is a zoo we used to go to that had a huge display with them in it.. We would sit for hours and watch them play..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrr Ari
are you going to have episodes of deja vu Harrrr?
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate

Kapp pack said...

Ooooooo, a chase, sounds like great fun!

Puppy slurps, Canyon

jan said...

so the gauntlet is down. Can't wait for the rematch.

JB's Big World said...

That is a great story and Ari looks like her whole head is in that hole! What excitement. It seems that there are a lot of animals in holes everywhere lately....armadillos in my small world blog.....mom was sure mad at them!!!
I think your black sheep must be a different type than my mom saw in Holland....I am sure they are wonderful too though!
--JB

Cody, THE Fussy Pot Pants said...

There there Ari... Heard of Groundhog Day? I am sure another chance will come by.

Southbay Girl said...

Yeah a run with mom and chasing agroundhog!!! Are they like bunnies? because I sure know how to chase after bunnies! Ari, you were nearly inside the hole in the earth??? Did you find the beast?? Mom and I run slow too! So tell your mom it's ok!

Velcro

John Theberge said...

I've noticed woodchucks out and about lately also. After reading the comment you left on my blog yesterday I was inspired today to show the advantages of using an image stabilization lens. You may want to check out todays post.

Marigold said...

Was his name Phil? Maybe he was afraid you were after him because he is such a lousy forecaster. Come to think of it, I hope you don't cross paths with any weathermen on one of your outings.

Sandpiper said...

You always tell the best stories! I love the picture of the groundhog.

chasingsquirrelswithrusty said...

Thst's such a cute story! He was late, late, for a very important.....never mind.

Amici said...

I bet you DID run! I hope your asthma didn't get the best of you.

The pics of Ari looking into the groundhog hole are great! Ari really wants that groundhog to come out!

Kathiesbirds said...

Kathryn, what a hoot! And how well I remember all those groundhogs on the sides of I-95 as I travelled from Presque Isle to CT! My mom has one that lives under her garage and comes out to feed on her lawn in the middle of town! He must be a townhog! BTW, I'm a turtle too. Slow but sure, I ran cross country in highschool but was never good at a sprint!