Russian Country Girls,
oil on canvas, 1926.
Saturday was Groundhog Day.
Most of the official Groundhogs didn't see their shadows and so predicted an early Spring.
Since I spent most of the Cyrillic day -- and the day before -- shovelling snow a baker's dozen deep, I don't believe them.
We always get six more weeks of winter. In fact we're lucky in this latitude that we don't get more.
Whatever. However. Nevertheless.
I noticed, while thawing out between shovelling stints, that groundhogs show up in my WIP. Twice.
Here they are -- in honour of the Day.
Dumbarton (Dummy, for short), btw, is the Black Dog of legend.
Dumbarton settled by the front door and proceeded to cuff one floppy ear with a great paw. I considered the question of an afterlife for fleas. If Dumbarton in spectral form was bedevilled by spectral fleas from spectral squirrels and ghostly groundhogs. It made a kind of sense.
Lillie has come to do an exorcism. Old private cemetery on an abandoned farm.
The little graveyard was dreadfully neglected.
Grave stones leaned and tilted, including three of prosperous red granite. I counted a dozen of various sizes and shapes, some toppled and barely visible through the brown winter wrack of weeds, wild flowers and rusty graveyard ivy.
But from the regular sunken hollows in the ground there had once been more graves and gravestones than that. Since we have an aversion to leaving the dead nameless, I thought some had been removed to another cemetery some time in the past.
Small mounds of raw earth and pebbles marked miniature souterrains where woodchucks made their burrows. I reminded myself sharply that groundhogs were herbivores.
The bottom half of a broken beer bottle decorated the base stone of the nearest monument. I doubted it represented a libation in honor of the dead.
Because of my country childhood, no doubt, I always seem to include a variety of animals, as incidentals or otherwise, in my stories. And even when I read a novel in a purely urban setting, if no animals appear somewhere, I feel something's missing from the scenes.
Does anyone else have this habit? A totem animal, for example, that re-appears consistently in your work?