I am watching a woodchuck through the kitchen window as it forages in the black raspberry patch out back. Its fat body fits easily between the canes, as if they had no thorns at all — the pale dead, and the reddish purple arches of the year-old canes, their heads buried in the dirt. The slope is stubbled with nubbins of grass, violets, dandelion, dame’s-rocket. The woodchuck’s jowls wobble as it gobbles the tender greens.
I am watching its progress in the small screen on the back of my camera, which I hold a foot from my face. First I see the animal as if in a stained-glass window, its body and the ground around it framed and fragmented by the raspberry stems: ground hog. Then I zoom in on face and fur, shining in the strong sunlight: so much color where until now I’d only noticed brown and gray! How much wood, even freshly split, could you say the same about?
But now I’m getting a reflection from the inside. I pull a yellow bottle from the windowsill and it spots the movement, freezes. Dark eyes bore into the camera. Then a waterfall of fur is spilling downslope. A moment later I feel a bump, bump, bump against what I am used to thinking of as a floor. I crouch down and press one palm against the wood.