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Marmota monax vs. dachshund


Here in the Virginia Piedmont we have entered the transition period between winter and spring when the weather is unpredictable and our wonderful world is reborn. The vernal equinox on March 20/21 is the astrological first day of spring but that natural fact, which is as true in Buffalo, NY or Palm Beach, FL as it is here in The Broken Heart of America, doesn’t capture the majesty of our annual metamorphosis. Man made mischief like spinning the hour hand of the clock forward on the second Sunday of the month to make the sun shine later in the day is symbolic of humanities whimsy and hubris. As another example of this pride it should be noted that there was a time when the Presidential inauguration fell on the 4th day of the 3rd month but modern government did away with this organic date of change and moved it to the dead of winter. Regardless of mankind's folly and machinations designed to control or destroy the grand design, this is the time of year when Arians light the fire of change and paint the world red(bud).

There is no place more beautiful and soulful than this hallowed ground at the foot of the ancient Blue Ridge mountains and the length of its subtle seasons is perfect. Winter, spring, summer and fall each last exactly 3 months and provide a top flight sensory experience for the respective seasons. This time of year the moments of each day vibrate with the intensity of birth. One might be picking daffodils on a warm sunny afternoon and lighting a fire to temper a cold west wind that blew in early evening. The next morning a frost could be covering the ground or maybe a dense fog will hide the mountains or perhaps an early thunderstorm will roll in. It’s a time of constant change and pensive anticipation for the explosion that’s about to overwhelm everyone.

There are critters, great and small, crawling from their winter hidey holes to breath fresh air and scurry across the road in search of food or sex or something. Not all of these furries make it because they’re slow and stupidly make their move just when a car is about to pass. Death is usually fast for these beasts, but hey, life wasn’t so great in the first place what with the scrounging for food, mindless digging of holes and natural predators trying to constantly kill them. It’s not like they were living in The Big House getting their bellies rubbed and kissed about the face like a human baby. Fed delicious food every night from a stainless steel bowl along with numerous snacks throughout the day. No groundhog ever got the warm water bath, the soft pillow bed, the bowl of fresh drinking water that the average dachshund house dog gets every day. That house dog is living very well and this lap of luxury does not come at the expense of any forest creatures - not really - because a groundhog will never be brought into the family den. Is there anything more jarring and preposterous than the image of a homebody holding a wild animal in their lap - hugging the rat - and acting like it’s normal?

The answer, for any moron who has stumbled upon this blog and is contemplating that question, is no, there are indoor domesticated animals and there are outdoor wild animals and why it feels good to lie on the couch draped in living, breathing, barking dachshund is a spiritual mystery. As cute and housebroken as they might be (and for d-hounds that’s an improbable assumption) they are still animals and, in the case of this particular breed, enthusiastic hunters so this is also the time of year when varmints who live near the home are stalked and killed by my pack (I’ve got 5 dogs). A spring field mouse or rabbit isn’t easy to digest for an animal accustomed to Purina kibble so it’s not a big surprise that, from time to time, my dog will decide to puke on the kitchen floor.


I’m not sure who’s bright idea it was to domesticate the wolf all those millennia ago or who, once they were domesticated, decided to bring these docile killers into the home to lie down before the hearth. Nor do I understand how the centuries breeding variations of this animal formed the peculiar (and adorable) dachshund with its little legs and long body. I do know that when the dog vomits in the house my woman locks herself away in the bedroom and calls me to come clean up the mess. I’m not complaining - it’s just the way it is in the real world. Rural life is full of adventure and surprises. There is frequent communions with death and dirty jobs that no one else is going to do for you. Spring is here - time for winter to die off, clean up the mess and enjoy this glorious life.


Beautiful, Charley. So evocative of the Virginia I know and love. Live free or die.

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