Harry on Hedges said, “No dice, spring wishers!” And Pasquale on Parsonage was much inclined to agree. Also concurring was Roll-Top Ralph—that’s the groundhog that lives under a wooden jump at Topping’s Horse Farm. Asparagus Andy was nowhere to be found, and the same goes for Fairfield Frank. Poor Frank—he’s had to relocate to a cul de sac, had to forfeit his alliterated name, and is said to be shiftless and unnoticed. He might just fade into anonymity. Smith Corner Sylvan swam back across Sagg Pond. No doubt he preferred the pace of life in Mecox, where he is known as Maurice.I grew up with just one woodchuck. And the one I knew is actually a person everybody called Woodchuck. So there really weren’t rodent celebrities we could watch on a local level every 2nd of February.
How the groundhog got here (again) is not documented. Swam, parachuted, came in on a load of sod from the North Fork … however it happened, the woodchuck or groundhog is now a familiar face in the neighborhood.
Here is a great recipe to be aware of:
Clean woodchuck, remove glands from under forelegs and at small of back. Remove meat from bones, and grind. Add bread crumbs, onion, salt and pepper, egg and fat, and mix thoroughly. Form into patties; dip in egg, then into breadcrumbs. Fry until brown in hot fat. Cover with beach plum jelly and bake in slow oven for at least one hour.
I’m not promoting the harvest of the cute herbivores so much as reminding myself that mankind once secured his meat in a greater variety of ways, and going to the supermarket for meat cannot be compared to hunting or even gathering. Instead, what transpires for most is a figurative hunt for money that can be traded for mass-produced meat, among other things. The money helps mitigate the messiness and uncertainty that goes along with being a human, a big animal with high caloric demands and no explicit fur or body hair. I’m not convinced that money makes us more humane, only more removed from tests to our humanity.
If you’re in need of mid-winter inspiration, there is an exhibit of historic photos at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton that will disorient, educate and amaze. I think this is what they mean when they say “the good old days.”