I thought I’d back up and explain that whole groundhog thing yesterday.
It all started last Friday. I was walking down the steps to the basement when I saw him. He was about as big as a football and walking in a nonchalant manner across the middle of the basement floor.
“Oh, hello,” I imagined him saying in a voice quite like Winnie the Pooh. “Pleasant day, isn’t it?”
I rounded up the kids to act as my human shield share in the adventure and learn something about animals and nature. Further inspection revealed that the groundhog — also known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig or land beaver — was living in a mass of insulation wedged under our oil heater. We heard rustling in this “nest” but were unable to see the critter, even though the kids shined the flashlights at the nest and then into each other’s eyes.
I called W at work. When she didn’t answer, I texted three letters: OMG. Because texting “there’s a land beaver in our basement” seemed too weird and where was the surprise in that? I like to keep that woman on her toes.
I finally got in touch with W and told her about the groundhog.
She e-mailed contact information for a wild animal removal company. After a quick phone call, I learned that it would cost $295 to have someone come out to the house and set a trap. Each additional trip back to check the trap would cost $95.
When W got home, she made some additional calls. Our options were:
1. Live with the groundhog (Yes, someone actually suggested this. As if having a groundhog roommate was a sensible idea. Really, he’s very polite and quiet, even though he might have rabies, eats a lot of salad and poops in a very random manner.)
2. Hire an exterminator.
3. Buy a humane trap.
We eventually decided on #3, although I was leaning toward #1. I mean, it would make a great book and all — The Lesbians and the Land Beaver — and we already sleep with a bunch of cats in our bed. Let me tell you, this little guy would have looked adorable in a striped nightcap.
W went out to buy a trap.
I should probably add here that I apparently told W to handle this. I didn’t mean it in a I-take-care-of-everything-around-here kind of way so small, rabies-carrying mammals trapped inside the house are your purview. I just had a full plate that day and was delegating household responsibilities.
W wondered out loud why her big, strong butch couldn’t handle one wayward land beaver.
Anyway, W bought a trap for $34.99. It even came with a free trap for chipmunks and other small creatures. Bonus. I mean, who doesn’t love a good BOGO sale?
We baited the trap with apple slices and waited. And waited.
The weekend came and went, and there was no sign of the groundhog. Nothing on Monday or Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, I was working at my desk when I heard scratching on the inside of the French doors that we use to close off our front room. I had assumed that one of the cats was trapped inside. As I walked toward the doors, I saw that it wasn’t a cat trapped in the room but the groundhog.
I called the youngest kid to go into the room with a broom, a bucket and a bed sheet help me trap the critter. By this time, the groundhog had scurried under furniture in the room.
The child wanted to know why I was the only person to see the groundhog.
I started to wonder that myself. Was there really a groundhog trapped inside our house? Was I going crazy? Or maybe I was the only person who could see this land beaver (sort of like the Sixth Sense only with groundhogs instead of dead people). Maybe I was the land beaver whisperer. It was all so strange and confusing.
I called W at work. “I can’t come home now to take care of it,” she said, as if I had designated her house groundhog wrangler for life.
“I know, I’ll take care of it,” I said.
I sent our youngest inside the room to place the trap.
“Don’t worry, I’ll close the door behind you and hold it closed so that the groundhog can’t get out,” I assured him.
After the trap was set, we barricaded the door. Just in case the groundhog decided to go all Ninja on us.
And then we waited. I went back to typing at my computer to maintain an air of normalcy.
In a bit, I heard some noise, and there was the groundhog trying to get the bait from the wrong end of the trap. This little guy needed GPS.
I sent the youngest back in the room to leave a trail of lettuce and snow peas leading to the entrance of the trap. I was hoping the the critter wasn’t familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel
“Don’t worry, I’ll close the door behind you and hold it closed so that the groundhog can’t get out,” I assured the child once again.
Again, he wanted to know why I was the only person to see the groundhog.
About 20 minutes later, I heard a loud snap. There sat the groundhog inside the cage. I had captured the elusive land beaver. I was a hero. A land beaver tamer. I felt very brave and very butch.
* * *
A land beaver in hand is worth two in the bush.