We interrupt this two-month-long blogging hiatus to bring you yet another instalment of Rion's Encounters With Wildlife, Or, Hey Ma, What's For Dinner Tonight?
I was stomping around with Rion in some leaves in the park this evening, as it was coming on to dusk, when he ran around a tree and came face-to-face with a groundhog. Or, rather, to be more exact (if things that occur in a fraction of a few sections can ever be described with a modicum of exactness), he came face-to-tail with a groundhog.
Next thing I knew, Rion was tugging on his leash (thankfully, he was already at the end of the extendable leash) and this little groundhog was pu-uuu-uulling away from him. Then it seemed to break away. I had the dog half jerked back by this point (but his leash was also half wrapped around the tree in question, so it was a tricky manoeuvre), so he didn't get back at the groundhog. The animal took a few more desperate, scurrying steps, then lay quivering in the grass. I roped Rion back in and, after taking a few minutes to try to calm him down, we continued on a shorter, highly-abbreviated version of our walk.
On the way back home, I passed near the Groundhog Tree. It was getting rather dark at this point, so it was hard to tell, but I was sure I could see a dark patch in the grass where the groundhog had last lain down. This was about 10 minutes after our encounter, and I felt sick to the stomach to think that the groundhog could still be there. I took the dog home then returned with a flashlight. Sweeping the area, I breathed a sigh of relief that the groundhog now seemed to be gone...until the light suddenly hit a brown bank of fur. The groundhog was still there. I couldn't quite tell if it was breathing or not, as I was too scared to get too close, but I was pretty sure it was. But I felt horrible. My innocent little baby, my little adorable dog, so soon graduated from chipmunk-scourging ...
Now, I am a city girl and so I did what any self-respecting city girl would do in these circumstances: I fled home, half-hysterical, freaked out for a while about the fact that Randal wasn't home and wouldn't be for at least another hour, conducted some ineffective searches on Google and the City of Ottawa webpage for ideas of what I could possibly do, and then I called my mother.
Now I love my mother and she is a very kind woman, but I suspect her love for groundhogs is very slim. I think this may date back to when we lived in Québec City, and two little groundhogs lived under our neighbour's shed and fed themselves from the offerings in my mother's garden. We eventually trapped those groundhogs and released them in the wild very far away. Anyway, after explaining the horrible events of the evening, I was quickly reassured that the groundhog was probably all right and had maybe just fainted from the shock or was busy playing possum. That made me feel better. We then went on to discuss the possibility that if the groundhog was, in fact, dead, then (a) it probably wasn't Rion's fault - maybe it was sick or injured anyway (Rion had barely caught a hold of it, if at all), and (b) sometimes it is just better to let nature take its course. That made me feel somewhat worse. But by the time we finished our phone conversation - which ran the gauntlet from the mysterious howling pipes to the cute little fir tree that I was given as a present at work today to the reasons why Judy's blog will always be funnier than mine - I felt better.
Randal came home shortly thereafter, and I told him the story of destruction and woe. We put our jackets on and donned flashlights, and went out to explore. We very soon came upon a groundhog foraging around in the leaves by a tree trunk. Now, I am not a naturalist (I know, you're all shocked), and to me, one groundhog pretty much looks like every other groundhog. This groundhog was startled by the light, and wouldn't let Randal get very close, but Randal said he thought it looked like this groundhog might have an injured leg. But he was up and about and moving, so, after watching him scurry around for a while, we decided to close the chapter on the imagined dead groundhog and just let him be. Hopefully he would get the food he was searching for, and then be able to return to his burrow and recuperate.
Sigh. And I thought moving to the 'burbs would be dull.
 I use the verb "calm down" very loosely. I mean, have you ever tried to calm down a Jack Russell terrier after it narrowly misses catching its mobile dessert???
 Being from the sleepy rural landscape known as Winnipeg, he has wildlife smarts.
 Even in times of crisis, I am such a librarian.
 Hi Mom! :)
 To be 100% certain that those groundhogs would never return, in fact, we released them in a park on the other side of the St. Laurence River, on the south shore, outside the town of Charny. I also feel obliged to note that it was possibly my mother's affection for our beagle, Tyler, and her desire to avoid any accidental death on his part that ensured the groundhogs were humanely trapped and relocated rather than otherwise summarily dispatched.
 The mystery of the week. More on that later (we have almost tracked down the culprit but need one more night to be sure).
 Every staff member at the university got one as a present from our new university president, Allan Rock. (Yes, that Allan Rock.)
 But I'm not bitter. Really.
 This is the point in the blogging where I recall my mother having forbidden me to go back out to the park to search for the groundhog in the dark. Oops. Well, at least I can rest assured that she will never know about this part of the events, since she certainly does not read my blog...
 This level of excitement never occurred when we lived downtown. Well, other than the earthquake, of course, which you just can't beat. Or when Rion took up remodelling the bathroom. But here in Orléans, we haven't had any bats come to visit. I haven't been told lately that my sour cream sniffing habits are disgusting, nor has Rion howled at any ghosts, shown signs of dementia, or (unsuccessfully) tipped us off to the presence of mice in our cupboards.