“Ashes to ashes – Dust to dust.” ~The Bible?
All spring, my family and I have delighted in watching a trio of baby groundhogs hanging out in our yard.
Sometimes, they are accompanied by a larger groundhog who we have been calling Homer P. Groundhog for the last couple of years. Although, it’s more likely that we should be calling her Henrietta, since according to my research, male groundhogs are dead beat dads.
As the spring has progressed, we’ve watched as the trio has become increasingly more independent and brave; venturing further into the yard and away from the comforts of one another and their various hiding places.
Today, while I was busy moving a large pile of mulch, I saw the trio peeping in and out of the wood-line at the back of our property and darting in and out from underneath our shed. It was as though they were watching me work and hoping I might stop to play.
So, I started singing just like Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and they ran into my arms for a cuddle, while a tiny bluebird perched on my shoulder and a baby bunny hoped excitedly around my feet waiting to be picked up. I may or may not have made that last bit up.
Anyway, as I continued my chores, I was oblivious to the predator lurking in the trees until it was too late. As I was making my way through the lawn with a wheel-barrow full of mulch intended for a flower bed around our shed, I saw a huge hawk take flight from the ground near the doorway.
I was momentarily in awe of the bird. I’ve seen them quite a bit, but never that close and I’ve never seen one land in the yard. Wow, I thought. I wish had been able to get a picture.
Then, as I continued toward the shed, I saw him….one of the trio….lying motionless on the ground.
“Oh, no!” I said, crouching to see if he might still be breathing. There were no significant injuries that I could see at first, but upon closer inspection, I saw a small amount of blood on his chest near one of his little armpits.
“Really?” I said, looking up into the trees where the hawk was perched. “That is so fucked up. He was a baby. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“Get away from my kill, or I’ll scalp you.” The hawk said in return.
“Just try it, assshole.” I said, waving my shovel in his direction.
After shouting profanities at one another for a couple of minutes, I told him he should come and claim his meal. But he just called me an overly sensitive bitch and asked me if I was on my period, before taking flight and fleeing the scene of his crime, leaving me to deal with the body.
As I stood there, I saw two tiny heads, what remained of the trio, now the duo, poke out from underneath the shed before quickly disappearing again.
I said nothing, just stood there. Again, the duo poked their little heads out, but this time, they made a tiny, high pitched barking noise before hiding again.
I backed away and for the next hour, I watched as the duo peeked out from underneath the shed, calling for their sibling. Ugh, it was heartbreaking.
I didn’t want them to have to continue to see their loved one like that; dead and waiting to be claimed by something, so I decided to bury him.
I was making the grave marker out of two sticks and some twine, when two men pulled into the driveway. About a week ago, I had posted some old fencing material for the taking on Facebook Marketplace and the two were there to claim it.
“Hey,” I said, the makeshift cross in my hand, “I just buried something in the woods.”
It wasn’t until the words had spilled from my mouth that I realized how creepy and odd they must have sounded. And so of course, I decided to run with the theme.
“What did you bury?” One of the men asked me.
“I can’t tell you that,” I said. “You know where I live now. Come along though. The stuff you’re looking for is in the woods back here.”
Then, I began to whistle a tune as I walked towards the woods with my little crucifix; (One, two, Freddy’s coming for you)….”Just a little farther, we’re almost there.”
Just before we hit the path to the woods, I stopped and said, “I was just joking. I buried a groundhog.”
They did not seem assuaged….but who could blame them, really? I mean, what kind of a person buries a groundhog?