Rodent in the TrunkEssays, Featured — By Amelia Rhodes on September 10, 2012 at 6:11 am
This piece was originally published on www.ameliarhodes.com
The day of reckoning had arrived for the furry little brown groundhog that had been wrecking my garden. After weeks of chasing him out of my garden and discovering row after row of demolished vegetable plants, I had finally set a live trap. Within hours, the hungry rodent had entered the cage in search of his previously half-eaten zucchini dinner.
I grabbed my green gardening gloves and headed out to collect my capture. Even though some intelligent trap-engineer had made the portion of the cage underneath the handle solid, I still wore gloves. I wasn’t taking any chances. After all, my fingers are only slightly more solid than the zucchini he devoured.
I walked from the garden to my car, holding the cage as far away from my body as physically possible. I set the trapped rodent in the trunk, atop a couple layers of trash bags. I left the trunk open and headed into the house to collect the kids and my purse. Leaving the trunk open for a few minutes, as opposed to shutting him up in the ninety degree heat of a black trunk while the kids and I gathered the rest of our things seemed more humane. And that was just the start of my internal problems.
I drove the back roads to my in-laws’ house in the country, keeping an unusually careful eye on the speedometer. The last thing I wanted was to get pulled over for speeding and then have the policeman decide to inspect the car and open the trunk and discover a caged wild animal. I’d really prefer not to end up on an episode of “COPS.”
“Mama, can we open the armrest and look into the trunk at the groundhog?” my seven-year-old daughter asked. She and my five-year-old son find it amusing that they can open the arm rest in the backseat and look into the trunk. Especially when there’s a live animal in there.
“Absolutely not! Keep that backseat closed!”
“Aw . . . but he’s sooo cute!!” my son crooned. He has a soft spot for all things furry. Even if it has been eating our hard-won garden.
“He is not cute! He’s a groundhog!”
“But Mama, what if he has to go to the bathroom?” my daughter asked.
“That’s why I put down the trash bags.”
“But, what if he has to go . . . you know . . . number two?” she asked again.
Oh my word.
“He’ll just go on the trash bags!” her brother said.
Here we were, driving 55 miles per hour down country back roads, with a caged groundhog sliding around in the trunk, and the topic of concern is the doomed wild animal’s bathroom habits.
Yet, a piece of me found the kids’ care for the small animal to be appropriate. Their natural concern served a small reminder for the way the world should be – helping those who are weaker, looking out for another’s needs, even though your rights and property may have been infringed upon.
The fact that I had a groundhog sliding around in the trunk was evidence of the fact that we live in a world that is not as it should be. The groundhog in the trunk was a reminder of the destruction not just in my garden, but of the destruction that began in another Garden long ago.
When man and woman began to war with each other over whose fault it was. When man and woman were cursed with hard work and weeds and painful child rearing. When mankind’s battle with God began, and they were forbidden from the Garden.
Ever since then we’ve been at war with each other, with God, with nature, with wildlife, with weeds. With everything it seems.
I heard the cage slide to the other side of the trunk. My shoulders dropped and I hunched over the steering wheel, willing it all to be over. Not just the trip and the groundhog problem, but all of this warring.
I hold the hope that someday we can return to the Garden. That in a future time and place we will know peace – with each other, with nature, with God. That we might experience the world as it was meant to be. And until that time, I search for little pieces of Eden every day – times where there is joy and peace and unity, a breather from the bigger battle at hand.