Gary the Groundhog and the Super Secret Rodent Committee in Our Garden


We have many animal friends who visit or live on our compound upstate, but this guy — we’ll call him Gary for simplicity — is our most frequently spotted creature. Still, photographing him is hard: He’s got that rodent demeanor where he ducks off lightning-fast if anyone pays too much attention to him.

In essence, he likes to keep an eye on us, but God forbid we turn the tables on him. So all the photos I have of Gary are far from perfect, usually his face is partially blocked by foliage. (Aren’t his ears startlingly human? You know, for a rodent?)

The past Saturday, Adela and I surreptitiously watched from the kitchen as Gary meandered up the driveway, just a few feet away from us, but clueless. He seemed busy, and it wasn’t the first time I’d seen him make this commute: Clearly he has a little territorial routine he runs through each day, from the garden, up the driveway and over to the forest-y areas, and then back. Watching him run is my favorite — he’s fat and awkward, but efficient. That makes him: lovable.

(In my mind, I like to think this commute is taking him to the Victory-Walsh Compound Top-Secret Rodent Resident Meal Planning Committee Meeting, where he confers with the chipmunks, mice, squirrels and shrews about the best ways to sabotage our garden while maintaining optimal adorableness.)

Anyhoo…on Sunday, we had another Gary sighting. I was watching Adela as she played in her baby pool, and I happened to look behind me and see Gary about 15 feet away, splayed out on the concrete slab, like a dog — paws out front, head nestled between them. I grabbed Adela and we tried to go hang out with Gary for a closer look.

He raced into his burrow under the slab, and waited us out. It was groundhog vs toddler attention span, and Gary won, hands down.


A more typical shot of Gary, perfecting his “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me” moves.


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