In the summer I usually swim laps for exercise, along with teaching my aquacise class three times a week. Every year I look forward to the end of June when the pools open, and I’m distraught on Labor Day as I pack up my chair, sunscreen and goggles and head for home. As I drive away from the pool thinking about the next time I’ll be gliding through the water, I hope the weather will be perfect on my winter vacation. I really don’t want to wait for June, and indoor swimming just doesn’t do it for me.There’s nothing better for total body exercise than swimming. Jump in and let your arms and legs sail you through the cool, refreshing water whether in a pool, lake, river or ocean. And if you don’t know how, take lessons. It’s never too late.
This summer of 2012 has been great here in the northeast for swimming, except for today. It was only in the 70s and the sun kept arguing with the clouds, so I decided to take a walk instead. My grand-dog, Charley, needed the exercise too, so off we went to the park with Charley squeaking the entire way on the ride over. He knew the route. He was in the passenger seat imagining all the aromas he’d been sniffing, an ambrosia to his little nose and was anxious to jump out of the car and get going.
While Charley’s nose was in every bush, weed, flower – everything! I was thinking about the next chapter I wanted to write in Flourish, the novel I’m expanding, and somehow my mind switched to a short story I once wrote about Charley and a woodchuck. Woodchuck, ground-hog; I think they’re the same. It doesn’t matter. I can’t stand that animal whatever you want to call him; he eats my flowers which I take great pains to keep weed-free. He’s decimated my Black Eyed Susans and tried to do the same with the Echinacea, a.k.a. coneflower, but I tricked him. I put them in a big pot on the patio and he had to climb up to get them. He tried once, successfully, but that hardy plant grew again. I guess he gave up because I now have lovely pink, orange and white flowers blooming, singing “na na na na, you didn’t get me” just like a sassy six-year-old girl on the playground.
The story about the woodchuck was an exercise in a writer’s workshop I took about seven years ago. Great class! It got me writing seriously and I have to thank my teacher, Judy Fraser, for that. She had us write from the point of view of an animal and because I was so pissed at that woodchuck (yes, even then he was annoying me) or maybe it was his father or cousin, I chose him for my narrator. I’ve never done anything with this story: never submitted it to a magazine, didn’t put it on my website (www.linda-rosen.com). It’s lying on my computer in great need of a re-write I’m sure, but here’s a portion of it, just for fun. Let me know what you think. Should I expand it? Should Charley get him? I hope you enjoy it.
The Woodchuck (I know, this needs a better title)
By Linda Rosen
She’s yelling at me again. I don’t know why she hates me so much. All I want to do is lie out in the sun, eat some grass and clover, and the yummy stuff in her garden. The new Echinacea she planted this year was delicious. She never did get to see the orange and yellow flowers. Too bad lady, I ate them. How about some more? My cousins, the squirrels and rabbits, they don’t get yelled at as much as I do. I guess I eat more than them. Well, I have to get real fat by October so I can sleep all winter.
Today the annoying dog was in the yard. Charley, she calls him. He scares the shit out of me so I stay under the shed when he’s around. That’s where my burrow is. That lady is so afraid Charley will get his long black furry body under the shed and she’ll never see him again. He’s small enough; he could fit through the hole I dug, but he’s too scared. Doesn’t she know it?
I don’t know what that dog is so afraid of. He runs lightning fast; he scares the crap out of me! One time he saw me crossing the yard and boy did he take off! So did I. My claws barely touched the ground. I dove into my burrow and stood there shaking. Can you imagine if he actually got a hold of me? That wouldn’t be a pretty sight. I wonder what the lady would have done then? But I’m bigger than Charley, so there’s no way he’d get his teeth into me. I might be cute, but hey little doggie, don’t mess with me.
Do you remember the movie I was in? Ground Hog Day they called it. What a joke. Don’t these people know that I’m a Marmota Monax? I’ve been called a Ground Hog and a Woodchuck. The lady calls me a woodchuck. Actually I’ve heard her call me That Damned Woodchuck. The more she annoys me the more I’m going to eat her flowers. Too bad, lady. Try to stop me. Your sprays don’t work. And what were you doing with the Juicy Fruit gum? Did you really think I would chew it and choke? Then you thought you’d stop me with Kitty Litter. I was slipping and sliding getting out of my burrow, but I got out! You thought I wouldn’t like that on my feet? I just went out the other hole, my spy hole, in the back of the shed. I went into your neighbor’s yard and stayed there awhile, but I came back! Did you really think you could get rid of me so fast? You’ve got the best garden in the neighborhood, so I’m staying.
To be continued….
And here's a picture of Charley. Doesn't he look like he's listening to a really good story?