Down and dirty


Election Day Fracas, from the Undiscovery Channel on Vimeo.

Nothing quite says “Earth Day” to me like a battle for supremacy between two magnificent wild animals. Unfortunately, however, I had to settle for a squabble between two groundhogs under and (briefly) in front of my house. Hey, it beats reading yet another stupid email entitled “Ten Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth.” (If it were simple, we’d have saved the earth ten times over by now. I’m more in Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s camp: if something doesn’t make me angry or at least uncomfortable, it’s probably not true.)

But as I listened to the groundhogs’ threats and screams, and took in the dirt and the abundant flies, I remembered that it was also Primary Election Day here in Punxatawney Phil land. I’m registered Independent myself, so I won’t be participating in this wonderful exercise in sandbox democracy. If there’s hog to be ground — and I imagine there is — I’ll just have to leave that to my fellow Younsers.*

Given the predicted high turnout and the general disorganization at Pennsylvania’s polling places, I’m not too sanguine that this will be over by tomorrow morning, or even by the end of the week. Let me know when it’s safe to come out, O.K.?

groundhog snout

*Younser: An inhabitant of that portion of Pennsylvania where “you’ns” is in common use as a second-person plural pronoun. Younsers give way to Yinzers west of Johnstown.

18 Comments


  1. Love it! Any idea what the squabble was about? Do they both live under there, or does it belong to just one of you’uns?

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  2. Down and dirty-nose! Great photo of the disgruntlechuck.

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  3. Something about that made me think “sibling rivalry”, rather than a “real fight”. Maybe it’s just from seeing my niece & nephews over Passover….

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  4. Do you think they’re related, and it’s really time for one of them to go? I’ve never seen a groundhog up close like this. They’re more fierce than I had imagined. Do they all predict the length of winter?

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  5. stay under the porch
    groundhog pauses to advise
    a curious fly

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  6. Barack Obama
    The rules should allow anger
    I voted for you

    I say Dave Bonta for Interior Secretary (no matter whether the pres is HC, BO, or JM). But only if they let him keep blogging and using his camera. He’d bring out a whole different side of Washington, D.C.

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  7. Fantastic noises. Interestingly I’ve played it twice in the presencee of Maizy-the-Magnificent and she’s entirely uninterested. If there’s as much as a yip of a dog, mew of a cat, growl of a fox, bark of a deer etc etc etc she’s up and trying to savage the speakers. I wonder why she’s not the slightest bit curious about these noises.

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  8. Hi all – Thanks for the comments. I’ve heard and seen this kind of fight between groundhogs before, though never at such close quarters, and I’m not sure exactly what it’s about. It’s my understanding that these are unusually solitary marmots, and some individuals can be quite hostile. But there are also reports of groundhogs – entirely unrelated ones – sharing burrow systems sometimes. So perhaps one of the groundhogs here wants to move in under the house, and the other is saying “No way!”

    I’ve now tagged a bunch of my groundhog posts; the oldest in the bunch is probably the most informative.

    MB – That fly really makes the picture, doesn’t it? Good luck on my part, since of course I didn’t see it when I took the picture.

    Shai – Thanks, but I’d prefer to be Secretary of Agriculture – many more subsidies to axe there, and the U.S. Forest Service controls way more public land than NPS and F&WS.

    rr – You need to get a marmot terrier for that.

    By the way, I’m temporarily locked out of the back-end of my blog, so don’t know if I’ll get a post up today.

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  9. I also apologize for the current slowness of the site – it looks as if ShareThis is f***ed up. If that’s still the case when I get back in, I’ll disable it.

    UPDATE (6:55pm): Back in. Yep, ShareThis is what was slowing the site down. Sounds like they might have things fixed by tomorrow: http://blog.sharethis.com/?p=59

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  10. You call that a “rant”? Dude! More coffee….

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  11. Well, that was an after-the-fact designation: I only have a limited number of categories, and I thought it fit into the “Rant” category slightly better than the “Personal/Political” one, which I tend to reserve for better-written pieces than this. Baldly political posts, however one wants to describe them, are few and far between here, and the reason is simple: they bore me. I rant incessantly in real life, trust me. People don’t need to hear that here.

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  12. Of course, there is a school of thought that says that exposing other people to one’s strongly expressed opinions can change minds. I tend to doubt that’s the case – and even if it were, the thought of a world where other people think the way I do kind of frightens me. :)

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  13. Incidentally, those don’t really resemble the critter I was the other day, so now I don’t know what that was. It was maybe 15-20 pounds (guessing by comparison to my cat). A medium brown color, (not the darker camo of these guys), with (iirc) a flatter face than the groundhogs above, and a blunter muzzle.

    … there is a school of thought that says that exposing other people to one’s strongly expressed opinions can change minds. I tend to doubt that…

    It’s not just about “exposing” the opinions… when it comes to who people listen to, the priority is: relationship, reputation, repetition.

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  14. Oops, didn’t see the typo until I came back after the edit limit…. I “saw” the critter, and clearly not for long enough to identify it, much less identify with it! ;-)

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  15. Umm… maybe… the white muzzle looks wrong, but I’m afraid now my visual memory of the sighting is fraying — I think it was too brief and distant to stand up to heavy rumination. :-(, but it happens.

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