My days at the horse farm are numbered. 2 left next week. But today provided enough entertainment to last through the weekend. It was a day of many mis-haps and re-doing something that had been done not so well (not my fault!)
In order to beat the heat and get home earlier, I like to arrive at 7am. Acknowledging that not EVERYONE wants to be awake at 7, I’ve befriended the two outdoor dogs, lest they wake up the neighborhood. I drive in, park, give them biscuits, pat their heads, and talk to them while I work around the huge yard. This way they’re not alarmed and mostly stay barkless.
So around 8:30, I was quite perturbed to hear Suzy start up a loud bark . . . and not stop! After a minute of attempted long-distance intervention, I put down the string (i’d been tying up tomatoes), and walked over to their part of the yard. At first glance, I knew. She’s got something! . . . or this fence with overgrown ivy has gotten her stirred up for nothing.
Sure enough! There, perched atop the 8 foot, chain-link fence was an adolescent ground hog. WIDE-EYED and allll afraid.
Where’s the gun?! I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that was my first thought. I promise I’m not a violent person, but I have been cultivating gardens all summer, so c’mon, the pest and animals have tested me! Just as I’m thinking, “Where have I seen a gun?” (as if I’d actually aim at this groundhog and hit her!), I heard the sound of running water. Here I am, shooing the dogs out of that part of the yard, latching the gate behind them, and wondering NOW WHAT?! what’s that noise? . . . and then I was certain I would NOT be shooting this groundhog.
Because there she was, all perched up on this fence, terrified. So terrified that she’s peeing. All down the fence, the ivy. Emptying her bladder in that desperate fight or flight moment, when most mammals’ bodies will excrete any waste in moments of fear, so that NO energy is wasted when they get the chance to escape. All the energy will be sent straight to the muscles that promote movement, not holding the bladder together. I couldn’t help it. With an awwwwww. I bade the groundhog farewell, latched the gate and headed back to the garden. Knowing it’d never seek to climb down with me there.
As I arrived back at the tomatoes, these words ran through my head: loka samasta sukhino bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be happy and free. An ancient sanskrit prayer. I first learned it at Lotus Yoga Newark studio several years ago. It’s often chanted in at least three rounds. But sometimes I sing it until I forget to sing anymore.
Loooookaaaaa samassssstaaaaaaa suuuuukkhi-noooooo ba-van-tu
Having compassion for a groundhog was not something I woke up thinking about this morning. Nor was it an emotion, response, or skill I’ve been trying to cultivate in myself lately. But I found myself filled with it today. My heart went out to the groundhog, who was so petrified, she peed herself. Compassion because I am not far from her. I too have had bad days, have been scared to death, and, yes, I’ve peed my pants before, although I don’t think it was in fear.
And at that moment, I really yearned for peace as I sang. May the groundhog be happy and free. May the dogs be happy and free. May III be happy and free. May we ALL be happy and free.
For those who care: Ms. Groundhog was later able to escape down a ramp with a little prodding from behind. No dogs were harmed. No groundyhogs were hurt. Everyone’s a little freer, and Suzy soon forgot her obsession with the ivy fence.