Pivoting the Groundhog

The backyard groundhogs are back! Or, at least, we begin that part of the year where they choose to dine al fresco. It’s never so many of them as to cause the word “infestation” to float through my consciousness and I would like to think that the neighborhood groundhog community respects my integrity too much to ever worry that I’ll pander for votes by railing against the property’s loose borders and promising mass-deportations.

Yesterday I spotted a young adult, in fine fettle, from my kitchen window. Those are the ones who turn into aerodynamic little ground-hugging torpedoes when they run. The youngsters haven’t nailed that movement technique and the oldsters’ hips and shoulders force them to rumble a bit. A groundhog at the peak or his or her powers, however, tracks a straight line and moves like a duck, with all of the frenzied legwork completely hidden under a shell of placid resolve and emphatic velocity.

Perhaps this points to a successful 21st-century rebranding for groundhog? The “ground” part plays, no worries there. But I don’t see the connection between the hog and the creature I see through my office windows. Hogs are snowplow-like in build and method, and Porky Pig is the only one I’ve ever seen raise himself up on his hind legs. Hogs don’t seem alert enough to invest in situational awareness, anyway.

Whereas yesterday, my merely turning on the kitchen faucet from behind a closed window caused the aforementioned specimen to stop what it was doing, raise periscope, and then decide that the treeline represented the better part of valor.

So how did we wind up with “groundhog?” Surely, “Land Duck” is closer to the mark.

If nothing else, a flashy renaming campaign will get marmota monax a burst of fresh publicity. At the top end of expectations, it could encourage people to toss them food and offer them welcome sanctuary in public parks. That’d be a real boon for economically-stressed communities who have parks, but can no longer afford the upkeep on their water features.

I wonder who’s handling their PR? Are they happy with their current representation?

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