Richard Wolkomir & Joyce Rogers Wolkomir

Writers of Fiction & Fact

WHAT THE WALRUS SAID
--Our Authors' Blog--

WOODCHUCK KARMA

August 6, 2018

Tags: Animals, Stories


We once tried vegetable gardening, but a woodchuck ate most of our carrots and green beans and squash. He got so fat he couldn’t run, only slowly waddle.

We say “he” because of his size. Females are smaller, and possibly more into weight watching.

Woodchucks have western cousins—marmots and prairie dogs—but woodchucks are more eccentric, like old-time New England hill farmers.

For one thing, they’re loners. In early spring, males go roaming the woods, hoping for one-night stands. Otherwise, they’re commitment-phobic. They’re just not that much into each other. No wives, no husbands. They don’t even want friends.

Here’s the karma part.

Two years ago, we had an oddball woodchuck. Big, so probably a male.

Our house sits up on a rise. Behind the house is a large deck, then lawn, sloping down to a pond, with woods beyond. This woodchuck had its burrow behind the pond, in the woods. Perfectly normal. Otherwise, though, this woodchuck broke key woodchuck laws.

One of those laws is: venture out only in early morning and the evening. This one, though, came out any time, to enjoy our salad-bar lawn.

Hawks, foxes, coyotes, fishers? He seemed to scorn them all.

He wandered so far up our lawn he reached our deck. He liked it. So he set up a second burrow, a vacation home, under the deck.

Finally, he began climbing onto the deck and sprawling there, just outside our picture window. He’d sunbathe. He’d take in the mountain view.

We’d check the window before going out. Didn’t want to disturb him.

Around mid-August, woodchucks start getting sleepy. In late September, or October, they go underground to snooze until spring.

One April, our woodchuck never reappeared. Their lifespan is about five years, so maybe he succumbed to old age.

Back to that karma—now we have a new woodchuck.

It appeared this summer, smaller, so maybe a female. More likely, it’s just a young male, because we’ve seen no accompanying little woodchucks.

Here’s the karma part: against all woodchuck etiquette rules, he’s out and about all times of day. Now he’s taken to making his way up the lawn to our deck. Yesterday, he darted under the deck, clearly making it his second burrow.

Just like our former woodchuck neighbor.

We’ve hypothesized: he’s the son (possibly daughter) of our former woodchuck, inheritor of all that oddball behavior.

Maybe, though, if Asian religions have it right, and life is an endless cycle of birth and death and rebirth, this could be….

Who knows?

We’re waiting to see if our new woodchuck starts sprawling on our deck, sunbathing, taking in the view.

It’d be a sign.

--Joyce & Richard

BOOKS & STORIES

Check out our published books
Stories published in literary journals
A "Pleistocene western," published in Reflections Edge magazine
A nonfiction book of stories about disappearing animals, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An award-winning chronicle of life and caring in a small hospital, published in Smithsonian Magazine
Just when a terrifying illness strikes, a self-confident corgi appears on our deck, seeking a new home, and he becomes our guide.