Nature Blog#16

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Groundhogs are Special by Doreyl Ammons Cain

     Groundhogs are mysterious creatures. They burrow deep into the earth, creating separate chambers, much like an apartment. They have a sleeping, nesting compartment and a bathroom. The special bathroom compartment fertilizes the earth in a very positive way. On or around Groundhog’s Day, the male groundhog leaves his exclusive winter quarters to visit several other burrows belonging to the opposite sex. The male groundhog is not courting, he’s simply paying a friendly visit. Some folks think he’s finding out which female he likes the best to visit later during courting season.

     Groundhogs are cute animals. Their round bodies, small ears and short feet give them lots of personality. When they find a lush green meadow they settle back on their tiny back feet, sit up and eat with hand-like front paws. Being vegetarian, their favorite foods are clover, grasses and plantain. Being sun lovers, you can find them stretched out on a warm rock during early morning and late afternoon. Traveling the roads of the Appalachian Mountains you can meet a groundhog around most any curve. It’s almost like they stand up and wave as you speed by.

     Living in the woods I run into groundhogs quite a bit. I always feel lucky when this happens. Some people believe that when animals that live wild in the woods let you see them, something special will happen in your life soon. Others believe that as you acknowledge and respect animals they bring you messages about future events. Native peoples of the world see them as guides.

     Recently, at a meeting with a local magazine, we discussed creating an animal mascot for the paper. The mascot needed to represent the mountains in a "fun" way. Of course, the first animal that came to my mind was a groundhog. They loved the idea and named the groundhog immediately... Mikie.

     That evening I went to my drawing board and with a few strokes of a pencil, Mikie was born. He has brown, sparkly eyes, a gold-brown round body and busy little feet. Mikie is a mysterious little creature that will probably get into all kinds of fun adventures throughout the upcoming issues of the magazine. Rafting the rivers, hiking through mountain passes... why he might even swing a golf club and go llama trekking!

     These Appalachian Mountains are home to numerous species of plants and animals. They are precious. Little Mikie will be our constant reminder to respect and keep them safe.

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