Sunday, August 8, 2010

Magical Moment 185, "Groundhog Day"

At a lovely picnic area on the small Army base of Fort Dix, you’ll find well-landscaped grass, a sparkling pond, and lots and lots of groundhogs. My husband’s Reserve unit held a family picnic today after a Change of Command ceremony, to which I hesitantly attended. Big social gatherings, plus people I don’t know, equals some anxiety for me. Plus I still feel weird being a new civilian around military. This morning at the ceremony, I snapped to attention when the General entered the parade field, then quickly looked over my shoulder to see if anyone noticed the Army spouse in flip flops and a sundress make a fool out of herself.

At the picnic area, I soon found myself relaxed as I walked Joy around the pond. That was when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye scurrying across the ground, then got very excited when I realized it was too large to be a squirrel and too small to be a dog. I inched closer to examine the critter. It was one of about 10 groundhogs I would see throughout the day.

Joy was too oblivious to notice the groundhog. She was determined to re-create a game from home where she chases her leash around a tree trunk that happens to be the exact circumference at which Joy always sees the end of her leash, but can never catch it. I pried her away from the tree to show her the ground hog, and after much directing, she finally took notice.

I unhooked the leash from her collar and watched her take off like a rocket towards the groundhog. It was a new creature, different from her regular squirrels and pigeons in our backyard. And she was shocked when she actually caught up to the running, waddling little guy. Suddenly, she had no idea what to do. Her perplexed expression lasted only a second though, and the groundhog slipped into one of its dozens of holes in the ground. Joy spent the next few minutes sniffing and digging at every hole in the area.

Watching Joy today tear across the wide-open lawn without care or thought made me smile. I caught myself wishing I was a child and could do the same thing without others staring in wonder, or without injuring myself. Instead, I ate my grilled hot dog and potato salad, and enjoyed this beautiful summer afternoon dubbed, “family day.” But for us, it was groundhog day.

1 comment:

Mary M. Valencia said...

Whatever the subject, whatever you entitle it, I am always interested to read along quickly to see how your short stories end. Elizabeth, I am always joyfully emotional & recognize the beauty of the places you so vividly depict! Thank you.