I was driving along South Main Street in Brewer a few days ago when a brown, furry critter caught my eye. Sitting on a lawn by the banks of the Penobscot River, the animal was too far away for me to identify, and in a few seconds, it was out of sight.
As I drove away from the animal, my train of thought was something like this: “That was bigger than a house cat. It’s in a park. I bet it’s a groundhog. I have my camera. Do I have anything better to do? No. I should go check it out.”
So I turned my car around and drove back to the little riverfront park called Fisherman’s Park. And it was still there, rummaging through the grass. I walked toward the animal slowly and looked through the 300mm lens of my camera to confirm that indeed, it was a groundhog, and it didn’t seem to mind sharing the space with me, either. So I stayed in the park for a while, snapping photos of the common backyard critter.
At one sitting, a groundhog can pack in more than a pound of vegetation, according to the National Wildlife Federation, which compared it to “a 150-pound man eating a 15-pound steak.”
While most of its fur was light brown, the fur on its belly and chest was a rich reddish brown. I’d never noticed that about groundhogs before, but then, I’d never observed one so closely. It struck me as odd that the wild animal didn’t seem to mind me sitting there on the lawn with it, right out in the open. Then I realized — something was wrong with its right eye. It wasn’t there.
The sight wasn’t as gruesome as you might expect. The groundhog basically looked like he was winking, all the time. After realizing that the animal was half blind, I started to wonder if he even saw me there at all. Just then, it lifted its head and looked at me head on, its left eye wide and shining in the sun. We sat there, staring at each other. Then it turned and slowly retreated to the rocks of the riverbank.
So now I know — Brewer has a one-eyed groundhog.