memo: to the groundhog


To: Groundhog
From: Jocelyn and Rob

We have been observing you for quite some time now. We see you across the street on our neighbor’s lawn. We’ve also seen you at various locations on our yard. But it wasn’t until a few days ago that our suspicions were finally confirmed that you are using our shed as your pied-a-terre. So, GOTCHA!

We KNEW that hole was exactly your size and your style:

groundhog hole

When I pulled into the driveway the other day (that was me, Jocelyn) I saw you look back at me in a rather alarmed fashion then “bust a move” across our driveway, past the hydrangea bush, through our rock garden and finally squeeze yourself under the shed. Though I was frantically trying to fish my camera out of my bag and get it turned on in order to document this (to no avail), and also texting Rob simultaneously, I managed to keep my eyes trained on you, with fascination and extreme excitement, the whole time.

Okay, “bust a move” isn’t really the appropriate way to describe the way you moved, and this is actually one of the more urgent reasons why we are contacting you. What, pray tell, do you call your particular mode of transport? It’s not really walking, and not exactly crawling, though it is on all fours. It’s more of a waddle, and kind of a shimmy, except more lumbering. Until I hear back from you, I think I can best describe it as a “scooch.”

I hope you won’t be offended if I say that you seem slightly too heavy for your short little legs and yet somehow, by shifting your hind quarters side to side so vigorously you really do make it work – it’s truly impressive. Whatever you call it, it is entertaining indeed. I hope you won’t take further offense to the fact that you have given Rob and I many a good laugh trying to describe/imitate/honor this unique way that you get yourself from one place to another. For the record, we assume that you are laughing at us, too, and our attempts to figure out what’s going on around our yard. That scratching of the head thing we do? It’s not lice – it’s confusion.

This segues perfectly to our next question: those four holes located back in our wooded area, not too far from the shed…are those yours too?

groundhog tunnels

We have not yet seen you enter or exit this series of four distinct holes, but a quick search on the internets indicated that this could very well be your country home. Again: impressive!

groundhogs-moundImage source.

Perhaps we are being a little bit intrusive and somewhat nosey, but after all, we do pay the rather hefty taxes on this land. And we haven’t noticed you chipping in for these.

This leads us to one last question for you: do you prefer to be called a groundhog or a woodchuck? Because we find ourselves making reference to you more than we could have ever predicted back in our city dwelling days, and we’d like to get the nomenclature correct. We again consulted the internets and they tell us that you are one in the same. Please instruct: is this in fact the case and if so, we’re curious: just how much wood can you chuck? As you can see, we have a lot of stray wood around the property that could use a proper chucking, hint hint. (See passive aggressive mention of taxes above.)

Come to think of it, there’s something else you can do for us: see these super-cool mushrooms that just popped up on our property?

mushrooms in enclavepink mushroom

Can you do us a favor and not eat them or “scooch” across them, and ask your friends to refrain as well? Thanks a bunch.


Do you have any resident groundhogs/woodchucks? Or if you have any other ideas on what to call their way of “walking,” please share.

Thank you to Rob for his cute groundhog illustration at the top of this post.

And finally, if you are interested in learning more about the fine art of writing memos to critters who show up in your home and on your property (trust me, it is an extremely effective form of communication), please see Chapter 4 in The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness, available in paperback and on e-readers at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Categories: Garden, Mushrooms

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24 replies

  1. Have you ever seen a groundhog climb a tree? If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed they could get their fat little bodies up there. I have three that live beside me and they will come in my yard and eat the grass/clover/weeds. One day, two of them were ‘fighting/frolicking/wrestling/rough housing’ and ended up in a tree. It was pretty comical.

  2. Thank you so much for the giggles. I, too, would like to know how they prefer to be addressed as it is only recently I have encountered these creatures and don’t want to be offensive. I have never observed one “scooch” but I have watched the “head bob” and find that to be most entertaining!

    We have raccoons who I would love to write to, as I saved their babies lives and they thank me by getting into our trash (and probably laughing their little masked heads off watching me clean it up for them to get into again) and have, this summer, eaten our ENTIRE sweet corn crop. Some of it on the deck by the table, just to add insult to injury…

    • ha ha! OH YES – it definitely sounds like you need to write a memo to those racoons. Clear the air and make your side of things perfectly understood. I mean, come on, they could, at the very least, ASK if they could have some corn OR leave you some…!!

      I am not sure if I know the “head bob” but I will keep an eye out for it. 🙂

  3. We had a whole family of groundhogs. They came and camped out under our neighbor’s dilapidated “play shed” that his children outgrew maybe 20 years ago.

    They considered my garden their own smorgasbord; destroying everything I planted… and drove me nearly to the brink of insanity. I’ve been a vegan since I was 15, but if you had given me a gun, I swear I would have happily tried to shoot them.

    When we finally caught them with the haveaheart trap, I was prepared to feel vindicated and triumphant. Instead I felt terrible! And said things like—YOU ARE SO CUTE!!

    • Aww, I know, they are pretty cute, all chubby and furry.

      A lot of stuff around our property is getting eaten – I have been placing the blame on the deer but maybe the groundhog should now be a prime suspect?

      Haveaheart trap – love that name – never heard of it…

  4. We’ve had a resident groundhog and his assorted family members living in our yard for years. Their mode of locomotion is rather odd. It seems like such an inefficient way to move, but they can really haul ass when they need to. Our groundhog moves so swiftly and deftly that we’ve started referring to him as “Jackie Chan Groundhog.”

  5. This is hilarious!! We don’t have a groundhog but apparently Mr. Chipmunk seems to love the underside of our bottom deck and everyt ime we see him we’re like so, is Spring going to bring Mrs. Chipmunk and the Brady Bunch?

  6. Ugh. This just reminded me of how I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching a groundhog scale a wire fence and raid my garden this summer. How do you make them go away?

    • Scale? Fence? Groundhog? Having trouble imagining such demonstration of agility! Other than a strongly worded memo, I have no idea how to ward them off. Maybe a NO GROUNDHOGS ALLOWED sign?? (I clearly am an advocate for literacy…for all creatures…)

  7. His scooch is classic comedy, but when he stands on his back legs you know he’s really one cool dude with a kickin’ pad just playing it low key when he’s out and about.

  8. Critters everywhere…and now they are biz biz busy getting ready for the deep freeze that’s a’coming. You need a cat to catch the mice. You need the bugs and frogs to catch the mosquitoes. Snakes to catch all the tiny critters and my least favorite, the raccoon. They just help with the natural selection of things in an all over sort of way…ick. Any critter making holes in or near my garden(despite that fact it’s only lettuce)if fair game. The deer can please stop eating my flowers but help themselves to all the acorns on the ground. Not sure if they got that memo, next time I’ll just tweet them all. Welcome to living in the boonies.

  9. Such a funny way to start my Friday! And educational too … I didn’t know groundhogs and woodchucks were the same! Oh, wordpress. Opening my eyes to all sorts of things … 🙂

  10. Are they as entertaining as squirrels? It’s embarrassing how much time I waste watching them scurry around in the yard. They’re so coordinated and nimble it’s astonishing.

    • I know, squirrels are a hoot – I swear they are hopped up on A LOT of caffeine. And they’re so AGILE. Groundhogs are funny because they look like they’re not agile, (and are are rather chubby) yet certainly get where they need to go and dig all those tunnels, etc. 🙂

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