Whistle pig

The answer to the age-old question, “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” is three cords. 

You’re welcome.

Woodchuck is just one of the many names for the ever-present groundhogs we see in these parts. I’ve bestowed them with the moniker “ditch rodent” because I often see them along the roadside, waddling into the corn fields or sliding under the fence of the pastures, looking like they are in a hurry to get somewhere, but never sure why. 

Ditch rodents may sound like a derogatory name, but the truth is, I get as excited when I see one of them as I do a deer, raccoon or fox.

Nobody seems to share my appreciation for groundhogs, but they amuse me. Remember the classic film Caddyshack? That’s every day here, watching the Carpenter do battle with the local groundhog population. It’s comical. Better than cable TV.

Our resident groundhog lives beneath the shed, where she is raising two chucklings (I didn’t make that up. It’s what baby groundhogs are called. Adorable.). I learned that a mom groundhog endures a full-term pregnancy in just one month. No wonder she’s hostile. 

Adorable though they may be, this little brood is a destroyer of gardens, digger of holes and terror to my terrier Scout, who found out the hard way that if you sniff around the ditch rodent’s front entrance to the tunnel under the garden shed, you will be met with a fierce and aggressive tyrant who has zero tolerance for uninvited guests. Yikes. 

Recently, I learned that groundhogs have another name: whistle pigs. Now I know why. I begin every morning on the front porch listening to a guided meditation to help me ground and centre for the day ahead. I love this practice. A calm voice leads me through deep breath counts. Close your eyes. Relax your body. Let your thoughts come and go like a gentle breeze. Imagine a white healing light from the top of your head that pours down …

Chirps interrupt that flow of thought. A series of short, ear piercing chirps, repeated over and over, emanating from somewhere beneath the porch. What the?

I did my best to ignore it. Stay focused. Deep breaths. Thoughts like wind. White light.

And then, as if on cue, a whistle sound rang out from the same spot, like a distress signal, the volume and pitch of which hurt my relaxed ears. It was like a rodent car alarm. I had visions it was intended to summon the troupes of furry tyrannical groundhogs within a 40km radius for what was surely a coup to come get me and my little dog. 

I had to stop the meditation to Google “sounds a groundhog makes” because if this wasn’t a groundhog, I was going to be terrified. Sure enough, whistle pigs. I get it now. 

The groundhog won. My zen contemplation could not withstand that squeal. The whistle pig’s continued alarm took my mind to thoughts that were anything but peaceful. I jumped up and stomped my feet on the deck, like a child in a tantrum. 

It wasn’t a pretty scene, but when the Carpenter rounded the corner, it was a funny one. 

All I can say is, if these whistle pigs want to stay around here, they best learn to chuck wood. 

Lots of wood.

WriteOut of Her Mind