Short Fiction

The A-to-Z Challenge — A Nice Place To Raise A Family

The Newark Star Ledger lists Pennington as the #1 town to raise a family.  And they are right.  It’s green and full of trees.  There are plenty of gardens with both flowers and vegetables and very few predators looking to snack on my family.

I chose Pennington because I am a groundhog mother and these things are important to me.  Like most mothers I worry constantly.  From the time hibernation ends I’m either gestating or lactating a brood of shiftless, wild groundhog pups who need constant attention. They are the reason we can’t have nice things.  I tell you, I don’t get to eat a meal in peace until the last one has left the burrow — usually in September.  By then I’m so ready for a weekend in Atlantic City with my girlfriends before we bed down for the winter.  Yeah, the burrow is empty, but before I can get used to the tidy quiet I’ve got another kit under paw.

The worst time is when they’re big enough to sneak out of the burrow but have no sense of fear.  I turn my back for five minutes and the next thing I know is those dumb kids are chasing each other out in the open and they have no clue that it’s dangerous to be exposed like that!  They will walk up to anything.  I’ve lost a few that way, let me tell you.   People and their pets are not our friends.  They just look up at me with that “Huh?”  expression.  I gotta love them, but they make me nuts.

And it’s not like I can tell them to “wait until your father gets home.”  He’s off on his own bulking up and marking his territory so I’m left to civilize these creatures before they head out on their own. There’s always one who can’t wait to leave — anyplace is better than home. That’s the one I’ll find in a Hav-a-Heart trap chomping on cantaloupe with a goofy grin on his face.  And there’s always one I’m dragging kicking and screaming out of the burrow.  I suppose there’s an element of “survival of the fittest” in both?

We need space.  Space to spread out and do our groundhog thing.  So plant a little extra in the garden patch and give a mom a break.


2 thoughts on “The A-to-Z Challenge — A Nice Place To Raise A Family

    1. Thanks, DD. I’ve had a front row seat to a more than one pack of shiftless, wild groundhog teens and you’d recognize that look on the mom in an instant.

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