Ken, Roo and the Groundhog

Ken is a gentle person. He rarely yells.
He expects decency from people and tries to reciprocate, but he does have his quirks. He CAN get angry.
Let him see a groundhog in our yard and he goes berserk. He’ll run out of the house, waving his arms and shouting. He’ll chase it until it scuttles under the fence.
“There,” Ken says to me. I stare at him. I don’t know what to make of this. Surely he knows he can’t win?

Ken Battles the Groundhog

Now I do understand that planting collards and kale only to have them eaten by the groundhog is frustrating. Yesterday we went out to get collards and most of them were gone, gone, gone. Then, later in the day my sister who was visiting looked out the kitchen window and said, “What is that trying to jump up your tomato cage?” I knew only too well what it was.
Fortunately (both for me and the groundhog), Ken was at the University of Michigan football game. So my sister and I shooed it away. But what was the point? I knew it would be back. And, it was.
It’s a waddling slow kind of creature at times. Eating the grass, which is fine, looking around. But then it gets greedy and heads for the garden and it eats whatever it wants. It can climb up the tomato cage, dig under the fenced-in collards, and decimate the lettuce. Whatever is there, it eats.
“I’m going to throw a rock at it, “ said Ken one day in a fury. All his kale, the second new planting had been chewed to the ground. “You can’t, “ I said. “That’s cruel. And it’s bad for the grandkids if they know about it.”
“Don’t tell them.”
“You can’t throw a rock at any living thing!” (I sounded obnoxiously righteous.) He didn’t throw a rock. But he went out to the yard and started hauling big stones from the back woody area. He searched for every entrance point he could find.
He enlisted our young grandson Roo when the Mid-Michigan Korals came. Ken and Roo walked around the fence that separates our yard from out neighbors. They prowled the back woody area, lugging stones and using them to block entry points.
Roo is just a little kid, only nine, but he hustled to be with his Grand Ken. Bella and Lex turned out to help too. Lex is eleven now and Bella is seven.
I refrained from pointing out that it was hopeless. Or at least, not very hopeful. If you block one entry point, the groundhog will seek another. We would have to cement the entire back yard to keep that groundhog out.
Well they got enough stones to line the fence, about fifteen feet or so. Ken heaved a sigh of satisfaction. He and Roo and his siblings downed ice cream and discussed how great it would be to not have all the tomatoes eaten. They could make BLT’s with a combination of those summer-ripe tomatoes, the crisp lettuce from the garden combined with the crunch of bacon (turkey bacon in our family) that makes it good. Roo and his siblings nodded and planned to go out and pick the biggest tomatoes, the ones that needed only a few more days to ripen.
Once they brought the tomatoes inside, we’d toast the bread and we’d have those sandwiches with ice cream for dessert. Drumsticks are the current favorite, the vanilla ones with chocolate topping.
The Mid-Michigan Korals left for home after hugs and kisses and Ken congratulating the kids on a job well done. “ See you this weekend,” he said. “I’ll make sure everything’s ready.
We read late that night. I was engrossed in a book by Asne Seirestad, a Norwegian journalist. It’s a book about the Bosnian war, With Their Backs to the World. Ken was finishing his Henry James, a dark one where the main character suicides at the end of the novel.
You might remember that another grandson of ours is staying with us while he attends Washtenaw Community College. He gets up early to make class and he took the this photo one morning.
We will get our tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market.

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