Archive for Importance of Beauty


The Woodchuck

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Summer has opened her eyes and settled over the backyard with the  sweet scent of iris in full bloom and roses just starting. It is the time when everyone wants to hurry and finish the garden, lie in the shade of the new leaves fully opened, and dream of the ol’ swimming hole. It is the time when stories of summers past flit through my head again. The one I will share with you here takes place in the early ’50’s on our new farm in upper New York State.

My Mother brought some favorite flowers and plants with her to the farm when we moved. She had brought some of them from her family home in the South to New Jersey when she married, then transplanted them again to the farm. Some were planted in the front yard, and some behind the house where they were to hide an ugly bank of dirt and weeds. The best place to see the large rose bush and other familiar beauties was from the bathroom window, and was a wonderful view from “the Throne” as we called it.  It was one of Mother’s pride and joy patches that she cared for very much.

One day she noticed a brand new pile of earth in the middle of her back flower bed. It didn’t take much examination to determine it was a new woodchuck hole! This made her both mad and determined. Up until that point I had always seen my Mother as a quiet and peaceful person…then the big, fat woodchuck dug a burrow in her beautiful, precious flowers!

The next morning, fairly early, I found her in the bathroom, sitting on the closed “throne” in the bathroom. My eyes got wider and wider because the window screen was out on the floor, the window sash was all the way up, and she had a 22 rifle balanced on her lap. She motioned me to be quiet and stay still.

Gazing out the window, her eyes intent on her flower bed, she brought the rifle up to her shoulder. It felt like my mouth was hung open to my chest since I didn’t even know my Mother could shoot! There came the head of the groundhog out of his hole. Mother didn’t move a muscle. There was the chest of the groundhog and the two front feet on the edge of the hole. Still Mom sat perfectly still.

That woodchuck, full of confidence and greed, sat up on the edge of the hole fully exposed. BAM!! He never knew what hit him.  Mother had placed a shot dead between his eyes and knocked him back down his hole! After putting the gun away, she grabbed a shovel and buried him where he lay, muttering something about “That’ll teach ’em not to dig in my flower bed!”

On an overgrazed, poor, rough and stoney sheep farm at the beginning of Summer, I learned that a place of beauty was worth killing a groundhog to protect. I also learned not to underestimate my Mother! After that, I sometimes heard my Father call her ‘Dead-Shot Annie’!