Animal: Woodchuck

After a month, I’m finally back in Oklahoma. We are (or rather husband is) doing some cabinet painting for me. This is the longest I’ve been gone from our old house and entering the house, it resounds with empty echoes.

The last year of my imprisonment here, waiting for son to graduate from high school and having the funds to have a second property in Missouri, I’ve been emptying the house. I went through and ruthlessly cut off the past. I trashed old scrapbooks, tossed old work projects of over a decade ago, and went through the huge stack of kids’ school mementos. Paperwork was sorted, classified, labeled and boxed.

At the beginning of August, we visited a local garden store. It’s late in the season, but I hope to plant in some herbs. While walking to the back of the property, this furry rug, black-brown animal ran across their utility road, over a berm and then hid away on the other side. It had a paddle like tail but not as big as a beaver.


Turns out it is a groundhog (or woodchuck) and it, as well as its relatives have moved into the well house on the property. Unfortunately, their days are numbered as they are going to be trapped, and not released, if you get my drift. Turns out they are a pest for gardens.

I personally, think he just wanted a hug


Furniture was sold off. Projects that I thought I would get around too, but never did, were sold or trashed. We had a huge garage sale right at the beginning of the fall that emptied the house even further. While there is still furniture here in order to market the house, they are the bare bones – beds in the rooms, dressers for clothes, a dining room set etc… These items will be sold once the house sells (due to circumstances beyond our control – such as a replacement needed for the upstairs AC/Heater looks to be sometime in the Summer of 2014).

We made a huge change in our finances too. I won’t go into it here but it was huge.

I’ve downsized from a 2700 square foot, 4 bed, 3 bath, 2 living room, 2 dining room house to 3 bedroom, 2 bath and one living, and one dining which is probably around 1200 square feet. That is fine by me but it really sinks in when you walk through both houses – on how empty the Oklahoma house is and how streamlined the Missouri house is.

Around the time that all this was happening – September and October, we kept seeing woodchucks. Not only the one in the garden of the nursery store but also a pair outside a house that is on the way to our Missouri residence. Recently, I picked up Animal Speak by Ted Andrews for husband’s spiritual work and thumbed through to the section on groundhogs.

While Andrews’ book is about animals as Totems, I was thinking about how our unconscious suddenly presents to the conscious, symbols that reveal deeper meanings. Animals can serve as a bridge between our emotions to our intellect. Because we notice them, their appearance becomes serendipitous to events in our life. Because animals and nature awakens deep, primal feelings within us we can access emotions, fears and desires which we may be hiding, even from ourselves.

The groundhog (aka woodchuck) makes elaborate dens. There are back doors, multiple ways in and out, and alternative routes to safety; the ultimate Plan B – and a literal back door. Because of the woodchuck’s cycle of hibernation, it is also represents the meaning of a pseudo-death, through deliberation, or as I’m thinking of it here: a time of sleep or non-being.

This has been very significant to me in relation to what is happening. While I am very glad to be in Missouri, there is also an unreal aspect to being there after 15 years in Oklahoma, and 7 years before that in Oklahoma City. I walked into our house, which we had contracted to be built for us, one day after giving birth to our daughter. I am walking away from it, the month that my son has begun college.


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