I was casually shooting arrows into the target on a hill deep in the woods of my backyard in VT, where trees install satellite dishes to listen to the stars.
Suddenly, I heard the rustling of the leaves, slower than that stirred up by squirrels or chipmunks. I turned into a tree and after a few moments of stillness (years really), my eyes zoomed in on the resumed movement, and – what is this? A bear cub? Too small. A beaver? Too far from any place even the most adventurous and rebellious beaver could call home. A muskrat? Too chunky.
Intrigued, I Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Dragon’ed my way onto a fallen tree to get a better look at my new friend. I felt a myriad of tiny stabs of someone’s gaze: peaking from behind the fallen branch “trenches”, she stared at me as I stared at her. Eventually she turned her head away and pretended to not exist. I took it as a cue and continued to stare. Holding my breath, I teleported my phone from my pocket into my hand and set up ready to record at the moment the beast was moving. My patience was rewarded some eternity and a quarter later, when she finally crawled out of her trenches looking all business and started shoving old dry leaves into her mouth before disappearing into her den. Her den! I now knew where her den was and could return the next day with a real camera.
What can I say except “you’re welcome!”…
(If you’re wondering why I refer to my new woodchuck friend as a she and why the Nan-Chuck name, here’s some reading: Grandmother Woodchuck and Etymology of Woodchuck)