Back in September we saw this groundhog munching on the leaves of our peach tree, filling up in preparation for its winter hibernation. It wasn't planning on a long trip to get to its diggings, just a short hop past our property line to squiggle under our neighbor's deck. We have seen it enter and exit between the nicely planted shrubs many times during the other seasons but it would usually skitter away when it became aware of us. At this point, though, it was too busy to care.
With Groundhog’s Day coming up soon, everyone will be watching for that special animal known as Punxutawney Phil. The holiday started in the 1800s but is still the traditional weather predictor. If he sees his shadow, it means the sky is cold and clear, a prediction of six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow, spring is on its way. For Punxutawney Phil it is not about seasons. It is all about reproduction. If it is too cold he will go back into his burrow for some more sleep and return in more comfortable temperatures.
Our neighbor knows the groundhog lives there but chooses not to evict it. Everyone, even a groundhog, needs a place to live. Sometimes the place we imagine will be our forever lodgings, whether it is a particular house or neighborhood, state or country, ends up being temporary. It is not easy to move even if it is warranted. So many people today are on the move.
The groundhog next door is lucky. I admire our neighbor for being so caring. I hope the people who need to leave their special places find new, caring places to resettle, and others who will understand how hard it was to go.
General groundhog info: https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2014/01/31/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-groundhogs/
Groundhog Day info: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/groundhog-day