Typically, I’m far from mid-range on the normal scale. It used to be embarrassing as a child because my classmates didn’t get all of my jokes or stories.
As an adult I have embraced the real me and am proud to be considered a creative type, a right-brained gal, or as my kids like to tell me: “You’re so weird, Mom.”
This outward show of love is followed with the obligatory eye roll, a sigh, then a flourishing exit accompanied with heavy footsteps. This pleases me immeasurably.
So when I was taking my daughter and friend home from theater class, it didn’t shock them when I abruptly stopped my mom-van in the middle of the street. OK, it was a side street that no one else was on, and I checked the rear-view mirror before stomping the pedal.
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“Girls look at that!” I exclaimed pointing at a rather large animal wobbling across a business’s lawn. The girls actually stopped their conversation to look up. Applying the brakes quickly makes an impact for most children.
“Is it a prairie dog?” I wondered. “Or maybe a hairy opossum?” The girls were standing up as much as they could while being strapped in by their seatbelts, straining to get a look at this odd animal.
“It’s about as big as a beaver!” I said, but the girls kept shaking their heads rejecting my guesses.
Basically they were no help up to this point. The friends didn’t throw out any animal names probably because they hadn’t seen anything like it in our suburban world. Then it hit me. Not the animal, but an idea!
“It’s one of those things they have a movie about. The name’s in the title, or it IS the title – and in February people in Pennsylvania celebrate its shadow.”
“Mom, it’s called a groundhog,” my daughter said, giving me that look. You know the one. The look all children develop around the age of 10 or 11 that clearly says you are an idiot. Since her friend was in the car, it was a toss up which one I was at that moment.
“YES, a groundhog!” I cheered slapping the steering wheel. This is yet another example of why parents should not wait too long to have children. Old moms tend to get old quicker. Our memory gets worse and we require more naps.
The three of us were parked in the middle of the road watching our groundhog roam across the brown autumn grass and then disappear by sliding into a hole in the ground. Talk about an exit! None of us had seen that coming. Driving away, I asked if either of them had seen anything like that up close before.
They replied they hadn’t experienced anything like that and returned to their tween girl conversation, which held no interest from me.
That’s when I started counting up all of the odd animals I’ve seen in our area since we moved down South. When I grew up, we would see squirrels, dogs, cats and birds. Nothing too exciting. But I’ve noticed a change.
Wild animal eminent domain! I didn’t notice it until recently, but it’s becoming more evident in our area. In order to build more neighborhoods, developers steal the land from the critters and without any fair warning. Suburbs push the critters out, and there’s nowhere for them to go. They don’t even get a tiny cashier’s check from the government for their cooperation.
So due to this, it now seems we are living in a feral animal, non-petting zoo. My family has seen several packs of coyotes, a white and red foxes, a turkey buzzard, dozens of hawks and even one caribou. Never mind…that’s the name of the new coffee shop. But now we can spot groundhogs?
City officials, we might have gone too far with developing our community. Apparently, our county has grown all the way to Pennsylvania. Let them worry about shadows and I’ll keep my eye and my domestic cats away from the coyotes.
Stacey Hatton adores getting to know the readers, and can be reached at LaughingWithKids@yahoo.com.