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Friday, August 2, 43 A.B.
 

Cute, Talented Soulmate - Or The Devil In A Fur Coat?
 

I've been on an emotional roller coaster the last few days.  It's been kinda hard to write about it while my heart has been clutching the safety bar with both hands and a foot, but I think things have finally slowed down enough that I can risk letting it tap out an entry.  Just forgive any typos, ok?  I think we all know how hard it can be to proofread our entries when our ventricles are drowning in tears....

Things began so promisingly.  It's hard to remember that now, but I must for it explains why things seem so painful now.  The bigger they come, the harder they fall, you know.  The plunge of Icarus wouldn't have been half so tragic had he been content to skim along just above the waves instead of attempting to soar to the sun.  It's the tallest tree in the forest which attracts the most lightning, and the whitest shirts which are most easily ruined by a single, glaring black stain.  And so on, and so forth.

I'm stalling.  I know it.  Sorry.

It all began like this:

I spotted my woodchuck friend again in the back yard on Monday - frisky as ever, and twice as cute.  He chewed the lawn while I snarfed my lunch.  The sounds of our synchronized mastication rose into the air and became one as I listened a respectful distance away.  It seemed like a match made in heaven.  Stunned by the beauty of it all, I actually forgot to get myself some ice cream for dessert for the first time since I was 6 or 7.  Incredible!

Tuesday he was back - three times!  First sighting occurred at 9:11 a.m. Oh, joy!  I have rarely had a creature fill my field of vision so completely, so gently, so satisfyingly.  Amazingly, the second sighting at 4:47 p.m. was even better.  Modesty and the limits of the human language conspire to render me unable to say more than this: I had to spend almost two hours in bed recovering.  I'd no sooner regained the strength necessary to enter my kitchen in pursuit of postponed ice cream pleasures when a third sighting occurred.  The time: 7:49 p.m.  The place: MY yard again!  The result: Palpitations!  And the best night of sleep I've had in years.

Wednesday, as previously mentioned, was my 20th anniversary.  My woodchuck friend discreetly kept his distance, as all well-bred woodchucks can be expected to do.  This isn't France, after all, where people thought nothing of Mitterrand's favorite animal marching right alongside his wife during his funeral procession.

That's what I thought all day Wednesday, anyway.  Shortly before dusk, however, my sweet little whistle piggy could restrain himself no longer and brazenly waddled once again into my yard.  No mere cameo appearance was this, mind you - nor was it by any means an ordinary visitation.  No, this was something truly special - an obviously well-planned, expertly staged, all-out assault on my heart.

I direct the reader's attention to the following map:
 
 

Map courtesy Mrs. Tenchete's third grade summer school art class 


The shaded area represents my lot.  The pink rectangles labeled "House" and "Barn" represent my house and barn.  The brown circle labeled "Pole" represents my lilac bush (I got a little sloppy in my excitement - sorry).  The boxy brown line near the southwest corner represents my driveway - if you happen to be the pizza delivery boy who came last time, please notice that this area is markedly different than the front lawn you plowed through!  The squiggly black line running through my back yard represents the path taken by my woodchuck friend as he made his way from his creekside home to my patio and back again.

This squiggly black line is derived from the radio-transmitting chip I placed in the greenest area of my lawn last weekend and my woodchuck friend seems to have unknowingly swallowed during one of his many recent foragings.  It shows his second-by-second position to an accuracy of 1/10th of an inch (as recorded by a MAC-120 seismograph).

Note the teasingly undulating yet steadily progressive nature of his path from Start to House.  Note the way he lingered near the House before making his closest approach directly opposite my open patio door.  (Something is happening there - what? Can you guess??)  Finally, note his hastily, uncircuitous retreat - first directly east (away from the House), then sharply behind my Barn and to the south....

Odd, you say?  Impossible?  I might have thought so, too, had I not been there to see it with my own eyes from just the other side of my patio door.  Even so, I might now have my doubts if all this information was not perfectly corroborated by National Security Agency spy satellite photos and a Global Positioning System able to plot the exhalations of an obviously over-excited groundhog against them:
 

This satellite photo posted for external use only!


 

As the U.S. military has learned only too well in Afghanistan, however, radio wave interceptions, satellite photos, and other sensitive electronic information gathering systems are no substitute for a single man on the ground with at least one eye peeled and half a brain to interpret what it might see.  The questions only that man can now answer are these:

What did the woodchuck do at his closest approach to the House?  And why did he do it?

The answers are so simple, yet as touching as any I've ever encountered:

The woodchuck - my woodchuck! - looked me straight in the eye, then whipped out a portable sound system and proceeded to sing "Spinning Wheel" to me.

What goes up MUST come down! Comprende amigos?


 

Can you even imagine how I felt?  Do you have any idea what this did to me??  Could it be anything other than his way of at long last declaring his love for me???

Well, actually, yes - it could have been his way of saluting my 20th wedding anniversary.  Or making fun of my recently admitted-to belief that minor Toledo celebrity Johnny Ginger had first sung this tune back in 1969 when it had actually been Blood, Sweat, and Tears (or Plasma, Perspiration, and Sobs - seems I'm becoming confused again in my agitated state of mind).

BUT no!  The moment my wife appeared (drawn perhaps by my exclamations of "Oh, yeah - ride that painted pony!  Ride him HARD!") the woodchuck grabbed his sound system and ran as fast as his pudgy little legs could carry him.  Clearly, his song had been meant for my ears alone.  And if that wasn't a confession of love, what in the world would be?  An encore performance featuring "Let's Get Physical"?  Come on, get real.  Only Australian chicks labor under the misconception that they have to get that obvious before a man can successfully guess their thoughts.

So, there I was - suddenly alone at my patio door, all hot and sweaty, with a wife's raised eyebrow demanding an explanation.

"It has just occurred to me that I need to cut the grass before we go to dinner and a show - be right back!" I informed her as nonchalantly as I possibly could through my tears of ecstasy.

And so I went and cut the grass, my ear protectors successfully blocking any of her inquiries which managed to get past the loud roar of my mower's engine.  By the time I was done, she was scarcely talking to me at all and I had plenty of time to contemplate the day's events.

And savor the woodchucky love I knew was now mine!
 

**********          **********          **********

Alas, I have not seen the woodchuck since.  My back yard has been as bereft of his presence as the moon.  Squirrels come, and squirrels go, but the creature I long to have trounced across my waiting ground more than any other is nowhere to be found....

Is it possible that it was my weedy lawn that he loved and not me?  Is it possible that once I had put blade to grass again for the first time in nearly three weeks, he lost all interest in coming back and is even now serenading the owner of the lushest patch of buckthorn, dandelion, and clover in the area instead of me?  WAS I REALLY NOTHING MORE THAN A CHEAP SALAD BAR TO THE OVERGROWN WEASEL?!?!

Monday - Monday I just might consult a lawyer.  Sue for breach of promise.  And obtaining sweet blossoms under false premises.  We'll see...  We'll see!

Tonight I just need to curl up and sigh for awhile.

And try to build up the strength it will take to rip up all those dreams I have lying around here of what might have been.

O, what might have been...!

*Sigh*

But... But enough about me.  How was your week?
 
 

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(©Now by DJ Birtcher so that when he dies, so when he's gone,
they'll be one entry here to carry on - to carry on!)