So brazen, so bold: the groundhog

Tell me someone else has noticed that the groundhogs are plotting a takeover. In fact, it may already be underway. (Image via WikiCommons, author: D. Gordon E. Robertson)

Drive onto Interstate 240 West from Riverside Drive any day, anytime, and they’re going hog-wild out there! We’ve all seen them rolling around on the side roads and in the valleys. I’ve always been pretty sympathetic to them, even though you’d think they’d learn that the roadside is a dangerous place to make a life. Maybe they finally have. Lately they’ve been traipsing through neighborhood streets, terrorizing the proud parents of spring vegetables, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers. And they’re getting bigger.

I mean a lot bigger.

My friend and co-worker has a small urban garden in her yard near downtown Asheville. Her neighborhood is street locked on all sides, mostly asphalt, and yet she has found herself in the midst of a produce war. The groundhogs are so brazen, so bold, that they stake out her garden for new sprouts and remove them with one snap of their overgrown chompers. They consume her family’s food so greedily that they’re practically dog-sized. She describes them as akin golden retrievers (but angrier) with tiny ears. These bullies stare her down; they don’t even pretend are afraid.

These aren’t just chipmunks on steroids anymore; we’re talking a rhino-sized rodent. And what’s to stop them? Everyone in this town is a gardener. We’ve created the perfect feeding ground for a full-blown hog tyranny. I mean all I hear in the streets lately is,  “You’ve got to see my kale!” and “How is your okra?”

“Well, it’s slimy and sort of bland and has those weird big seeds but, oh, I just love it!” We’re practically inviting them to build an empire.

What can we do about this threat before we start reading headlines like: LOCAL MAN CARRIED AWAY BY HERD OF GIANT GROUNDHOGS • TROWEL DID NOTHING TO STOP THEM. Asheville if you know of any ways to send these beasts the message that enough is enough, that they could at least scamper for a few feet before rearing up like grizzlies on their hind legs, please! – Spread the word.

Rumor has it that one effective anti-groundhog measure is a row of pinwheels in the yard (just not the ham and cheese deli platter kind). Apparently the fast whirring of rainbow colors dissuades them. Thankfully we live in a windy town or they might find out that someone found a way to make money off of cheap plastic blades on cheap plastic sticks (and probably eat those too). Some people hang old cd’s from low hanging branches, hoping the flashing reflection of light and images will scare any creatures away. I am skeptical. I think hanging mirrors up in the gardens may just increase their vanity and pomposity.

Now as a good yogi and lover of nonviolence, I am the last person to want any harm to come to these creatures I would have once called, “furry friends.” But I just feel like they’ve overstepped their bounds. They’re taking up prime bunny real estate, and scaring off the tourists. Or maybe …

Since our Beer City title is up for debate, we could just chuck it in favor of the wood chucks, I mean hogs. Well, whatever we want to call them. Ashevarmits. Brevard has its white squirrels — they even have a festival with a derby race for kids in honor of squirrels. Why not, this year, instead of Bele Chere, because haven’t we all had enough of that, we were to pull in the crowds with “Hoes in the Ground HogFest.” Urban gardening would promote the local economy directly by drawing hogwatchers en masse.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stick my head in the ground while this mountain turns into a mole hill. I mean, life has given us groundhogs and we’ve gotta slap them up on a billboard before they turn back into just another roadside attraction.


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7 thoughts on “So brazen, so bold: the groundhog

  1. Michael Hopping

    We’re in real trouble now that groundhogs seem to have become masters of disguise. The one in the photo is a dead ringer for a prairie dog. Where, and as what, will they turn up next?

  2. Margaret Williams

    By george, I suspect you were right, Mr. Hopping. led us astray a bit. According to WikiCommons, the groundhog in this replacement picture was munching away in Ontario.

  3. bsummers

    “Asheville if you know of any ways to send these beasts the message that enough is enough…”

    Tell the UN that they are stockpiling nerve agents. Problem solved.

  4. bsummers

    Tell Carl Mumpower they are here illegally.

    Tell Tim Moffitt they vote Democrat, are unionized, or bare their breasts.

    Tell Nathan Ramsey they are lactose intolerant?

  5. boatrocker

    Give those pesky groundhogs a turntable, a pair of skinny jeans and an ironic T shirt, they’ll move back to Brooklyn.

    Give them an acoustic guitar, a calico dress and cowboy boots and they’ll move to Nashville to make it big.

    Give them an old converted UPS truck, and they’ll open a food truck and only serve food until 30 minutes before I’m done with work.

    Give them a tacky downtown hotel, and they’ll move inside, open a faux jazz bar and stop terrorizing humans for exploring vertical living.

    Give them a badge and a gun, and we’ll have a new police scandal du jour.

    That groundhog in the(corrected) picture looks so sweet and innocent, chewing on an organically grown kale/street team flyer hybrid, but we all know he’s just biding his time.

  6. Meiling Dai

    I battle squirrels (relative of groundhog) around my home. The squirrels dig holes everywhere and are virtually unstoppable. I don’t even have a birdfeeder, knowing the squirrels will eat all the seeds. But there is one technique that does seem to work and that is: CAYENNE PEPPER! You can buy this at Dollar Tree for, of all things, a dollar! Just put cayenne around the perimeter of your veggie or flower garden and voila! Of course,
    if there is a heavy rain, you may have to repeat
    the process but that is better than utter
    devastation. Good luck!

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