18

Groundhogs of the World Unite!

The opinions presented in this article are strictly those of the author. The do not reflect the position of The Cheeseland Times or its editorial staff. Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2.

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Did you think that because they gave us a special day that the humans think we are special? You’re wrong.

Humans don’t exchange gifts on Groundhog Day. They don’t have cute cards for Groundhog Day. They don’t say “Happy Groundhog Day!” to each other. If you have been living underground, the entire point of Groundhog Day is to pull a member of several of our communities from their nice, warm beds to tell the humans how soon winter is going to end.

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They’ll tell you that the groundhog emerges from his burrow on February 2. Let me give you a clue humans. We go into true hibernation (low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate). We sleep from October until March or April in the northern places where you want to see us. We do not wake up on February 2 so we can tell you how much longer you will have to scrape off your car.

How on earth would we know when winter is going to end? Do they think the information comes from some otherworldly spirit with special knowledge? Do they think we inherit it with our other attributes? No. They think we can tell because seeing our shadow on the morning of February 2 has some special meaning.

They refer to it as “the groundhog seeing his shadow.” Listen up, humans. When you wake us up and pull us into the cold upper world, we don’t see anything. We are blinking, trying to wake up. The sun is in our eyes. The reason we look grumpy is because we are grumpy. You would be too if someone did it to you.

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The whole thing really irritates the female groundhogs. Do the humans think they always grab a male? No. They can tell the difference. They could change their stupid saying to “the groundhog seeing its shadow.” Get out of the 20th century humans.

They hold us up under the arms and show us off like some kind of prize. Do they think that’s comfortable? They’re lucky we’re not carnivores. We have to pose for pictures and video. Then they throw us back down our holes and expect us to go back to sleep. After they’ve woken up the entire family.

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We are more than furry shadow-makers. Let me give you a few facts about groundhogs.

We are part of the squirrel family. In fact, we are the largest member of the squirrel family. We are technically marmots. We are the big, friendly branch of the family. But not when we are woken from a deep slumber.

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We mainly eat plants. Clover is especially yummy. We also eat alfalfa and dandelions. Occasionally a slug or a snail is a nice treat. Nuts offer variety. If you’ll notice, humans, you consider several of those things pests. Do you celebrate our contributions to containing those populations? No. You want to see our shadow. You know, you have shadows of your own.

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As a proud member of the groundhog community, I’ll tell them when winter is going to end. Winter ends on the vernal equinox. That’s when there are as many hours of sunlight as there are dark because the sun is directly over the equator. This year that is on March 20th.

In the meantime: leave us alone!

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Gregory Groundhog

You may reach me at gghog@info.ghog or follow me on Twitter @gghog

 

(All pictures courtesy of Google Images)

 

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6

Critter Capers: Kommando’s New Hobby

Hello humans and cats with computers. I hope it’s as nice there as it is here. We’ve had full Cat TV for the last couple of days. Drapes and windows open. Sun. Birds. Two channels: dining room and living room. Hopefully the upstairs channel will be available soon. It’s harder to watch the things in the window wells (I think the humans call them frogs), but we can see a lot farther. We can sleep in the sun on the inside porch too. Purrrr.

Before it got so nice, Blondie (B for short) taught me a new hobby. She has a really little box that shows pictures and she talks into it. But it also does this:

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Pretty cool, huh?

B says I don’t like to get my picture taken. That’s because you couldn’t even see me in the first few pictures she took. I guess it took her a couple of days to figure out that since most of me is white, I need a dark background. I could put a dumb blonde joke here but I’m kinda blonde too.

Anyway, now that she knows how to do it, I think I like it.

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I just wish they would clean the house. I don’t know who Mr. Beer is, but I don’t want his stuff in my pictures.

My Grandma used to take lots and lots of pictures. But you can’t see them on the computer. They’re on some kind of paper. Snoops says they’re delicious. They’re all of the same people and cats. Some of them look like Mom and Dad, but better looking. Grandma must not have known too many people.

B isn’t around when I do most of my really cute stuff like lie in Mom’s arms in bed. Maybe she should teach Dad about this. He has one of those little boxes too.

Now that I think about it, I don’t know what to do with all of these pictures. Do they just live in the computer forever? Do new ones come and eat the old ones?

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Guess I just have to lay here and think about it for a while.

 

0

The Return of Cat TV

Everyone has their own indicator for when spring starts.The first robin. The first golf game without a winter jacket. The lilacs blooming. For us it’s the start of Cat TV. Cat TV starts on the day that we can first open the windows and pull the screens down. It usually starts in the dining room (the window is easily accessible) and moves to the living room (table in front of the window). Both cats race to the first one open. When they’re both open, they choose whichever has the best picture. During the day it’s a toss-up, but at night the living room is definitely favorite since the lights attract bugs.

Cat TV is undoubtedly a popular time for the cats. Unfortunately, it also coincides with the time of year when we notice that we can’t see through the windows from all the gunk that the storms brought all winter. At least for me, the problem with washing the windows is that once it gets hot, we close all the drapes against the sun. You may remember that we live in an old farmhouse with a boiler for heat. Apparently farmers in the 1920’s did not see a need for central air. Probably something to do with being out in the sun all day making anything feel cooler. Or possibly that AC hadn’t been invented or discovered or however it came to be.

OK, windows have fallen to the bottom of the list. If I want to see the weather, I’ll take a chair and sit outside. We have a lot of trees. The traffic isn’t too bad and goes by at 55 mph (or so). If I’m really motivated, I can sit in the backyard.

Of course, it’s a lot more pleasant to sit in the yard if the grass has been mowed. Our lawnmower broke toward the very end of mowing season last year. We’ve been meaning to get one for awhile, but you know that goes… It will be delivered today. I’m not good with mechanical things – do they come with a machete function? I really should have bought that alpaca. It is amazing how quickly grass will grow when it knows you have no defense.

The other day my husband jokingly suggested that we replace our grass with lemon basil. Apparently it only grows a few inches high, so it wouldn’t require cutting. We may have to try it. If the deer and the rabbits and the rest of the beasties like it, maybe they’ll get full before they make it to the shrubs in the front. Or maybe it would just be a first course for them.  We could try phlox. Every year I cut it back and every year it takes over the sidewalk by the time it’s warm enough to garden.

I remember a humorous story by a Soviet writer (I wish I could remember his name) about the electrification of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s (bet it didn’t include AC either). A government official was going around asking the peasants how much they enjoyed their new light. When he got to one house, he noticed that the light bulbs had been removed. He asked the woman about it. She told him that she didn’t realize how dirty her house was until she got the lights.

I am looking around the house and seeing about twenty things that could be done. And I continue to sit here and write this post. Why does housework have to be so boring and repetitive? That’s the real reason men resisted women moving into the workforce. They knew that some of that stuff would eventually become their responsibility. When my kids were younger, I’d read articles about how to make cleaning up more fun. I’m really glad I didn’t lie to them about that.

I have a pile of books that I want to read sitting on the table behind me. Actually it’s grown to two piles in the time I’ve been trying to get to them. I can hear some voices in the back row: “You need to make time for yourself.” That’s great, but if I make that much time for myself, the dust bunnies are going to find out, get organized, and take over the house.

Thinking about it, I also have magazines, crossword puzzles, and books in the living room. And the bedroom. It’s probably a good thing they don’t do periodic fire safety inspections on houses. It’s truly unfortunate that we don’t entertain much anymore – we always cleaned the house thoroughly before we let anyone in.

And don’t forget about the closets. I need to bring out my summer stuff. Actually it’s more about putting away the winter stuff. When you don’t have AC, it is really unpleasant to be rummaging through heavy knits to find the sundresses. To say nothing of the psychological damage thinking about winter in July could cause.

I really should do that thing about throwing away anything I haven’t worn in the past 12 months. Unfortunately due to wearing a uniform I don’t have to change after work in the winter, I really don’t have any idea what I would wear if I got another job. And if I can’t do the winter clothes, why bother with the summer clothes?

I’m sure there are other things to do, but thankfully, I can’t think of them right now. Guess I’ll go watch Cat TV and see if they come to me.

10

Who, What, Where, When, Why?

I refuse to include “how”; it ruins the symmetry of the group.

If a burger made out of turkey is a turkey burger, and a burger made out of vegetable matter is a veggie burger, what is a burger made out of ham called?

If chai is supposed to be relaxing, why do they offer to add shots of espresso?

Why do I always get nervous when I discover there’s a police car following me or sitting on the side of the road?

Why do some parents want to chaperone every school dance at their kids’ high school?

Who are these people who care that Kim Kardashian did not invite Lindsay Lohan to her wedding?

Did Fox really find twelve women who thought that Prince Harry of Britain would be so desperate for a date that he would go on an American reality show? If not, how disappointed are they that their shot at fame has been ruined by abysmal ratings?

Do people who wallow in negativity ever get tired of hearing themselves complain?

Why did the news organizations spend three days telling us that the Browns told Johnny Manziel to stop acting like a diva and he agreed that he was only a rookie? Were they afraid we would go into withdrawal after the draft?

Who invented bubble tea and why? And why do coffee shops sell something that comes in cherry and orange flavors (among others)?

Why do we celebrate/mourn those who have given their lives for their country by going out and buying a 1/2 price mattress? Or does that only happen around here?

Why do big box stores around here not sell potato mashers (or ricers) anymore? Are the people who shop at boutiques the only ones who eat fresh mashed potatoes these days?

Why would I find a half eaten turnip on the floor at work?

Why would anyone want to add pieces of candy bar to their yogurt? Doesn’t that negate eating a healthy snack?

Why are organic cucumbers so much smaller than other cucumbers?

Do people assume that things bought at a local farmers’ market are organic? Does being local outweigh the concern about pesticides for locavoires?

At what point does the excitement over spring finally getting here get replaced by the realization that the planting season for the garden is only two weeks long and the ground hasn’t even been tilled?

Why do the cats get all excited about birds and squirrels outside but totally ignore the large groundhog who has taken to hanging out in the flowerpot on the porch?

Why do the teachers at my kids’ high school continue to email about their progress after they have spent the entire year telling us that the kids need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions?

Do gasoline companies realize how insulting they are being by telling us that oil prices magically go up before every holiday and down after the holiday? Year after year?

Does the international soccer season go on year round? It seems like every few weeks there’s some sort of major match.

Why do as many people cry at weddings as at funerals? (no sarcastic answers from the men, please)

Why do I find the thought of donating my body to science creepy but have no problem being an organ donor? Aren’t the goals related?

Why is my need for orderliness so much stronger at work than at home?