Don’t honk if you love groundhogs

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Some weeks ago I discovered that I am capable of carrying twenty pounds of litter on my shoulders for the walk home from the grocery store. Over the course of the three-quarter-mile journey I was reminded of the value of motor vehicles. Since that trip I have driven my car to the store one time, to pick up more cat litter, but except that that one excursion, my three or four weekly trips to the grocery store have been powered by my own two feet.

Along with my occasional walking commutes to work, I have been spending rather a lot of time on sidewalks. Also on absence-of-sidewalks, because the city planners, whose superior knowledge and education I can only defer to, apparently have a thoughtful and logical reason for abruptly ending safe pedestrian walkways alongside certain busy roads. Maybe one day I will be smart enough to understand that reason. 

After next week’s time change, I will probably be walking a lot less. I’m not sure yet. I will be irritable if I have to cede my sanctimonious position. It is a great joy for me, as I walk with my cloth bags to and from the store, to feel as though I have a greater moral and ethical compass than the drivers on the road. That this is a dubious, ill-founded perspective bothers me not at all. 

Walking by oneself after dark is not necessarily an intelligent idea, however. Moral and ethical, yes, but kind of dumb on the whole. I dunno. I’ll think about this dilemma once the time change actually happens. Till then, you will be able to find me on sidewalks, road margins, and ditches around town. I will be the one looking unaccountably smug. 

For those times when you do see me strolling about, please refrain from honking your horn at me. This sort of thing happens fairly often. I would prefer to think of it is a response to my breathtaking beauty, though that’s kind of a stretch, seeing that I’m normally decked in my floppy cowboy hat, ratty old sneakers, and serviceable but unexciting shirt and jeans. And also the jeans are always rolled up at the cuffs because they just don’t make jeans for women of my modest dimensions.

More likely, I think, is that drivers honk because they recognize me. Working as I do at a public service desk, and sporting hair colors that change in shade but remain dependably distinctive, I am a familiar sight. (Even a floppy cowboy hat is not a sufficient disguise, apparently.) I suppose it’s sweet of them to send the greeting, but I never do see the person doing the honking, and it is noisy and startling. I don’t care for it, and neither does my groundhog.

My groundhog lives on the hillside across the road from my apartment complex. I feel confident calling (him? her?) my groundhog, as opposed to just anyone’s groundhog, because I feed her, or him. Just the other evening I walked over to the hillside to leave an offering of apple cores. The groundhoggy wasn’t in sight– but when I strolled by the next day, he or she was feasting away! I paused to admire the little darling, who could pass for the twin of my cat Beelzebub (furry, round, waddles a lot), but then a car came honking by, and the groundhog scampered away. Well– waddled ungracefully away, but at an impressive speed.

My own feast that evening did not delight me the way apples delight pudgy rodents. I had finally decided to try some quinoa, one of the few pantry survivors in my recent battle against the grain moths. I was glad the quinoa survived, considering how expensive it was. I prepared it in my rice cooker, foregoing adornments so that I could judge it on its own flavor, which turned out to be kind of boring. I can get a kind of boring grain dish from rice for less money, so I’m not clear on why I should bother.

Also, healthy wholesome foods seem less appetizing when compared to, say, the three bags of candy sitting in one’s cabinet. It was buy-two, get-one-free at the store. I had no choice. It was for the children, you understand. Not for me. For like the seventh year running I have neglected to come up with a good Halloween costume, but at least I am well stocked for the trick-or-treaters. Not that any have ever come to my door before– but in case they do, I am prepared.


2 responses »

  1. Have you ever read "The Geography of Nowhere"? WRL has it, or at least used to. I read it years ago. One of the issues addressed is the deliberate lack of zoning for sidewalks. Bike lanes also appear and disappear. It can be unnerving to be rolling along and suddenly the lane is gone and there is traffic coming from behind. And groundhogs are cool. 🙂

  2. Haven't read it, but it's got 45 circs, which is very respectable. Having just finished Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia, however, I am unwilling to advocate for more sidewalks. At this point I want to raze all the roads and sidewalks and seed them with wild grass.Because I am not entirely unreasonable I will permit dirt roads to continue existing.


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