Today I was shown a bit of groundhog medicine. She lives in my front yard with her 4 babies, so I want to befriend her, learn from her, and become connected with her, to work in symbiosis, and to watch her nurture her children with wisdom and awareness.
This begins first by picking up on the subtle cues of each other when we are in each other’s space. She will make alarm calls that will inform all who listen when someone, or something is coming. Groundhogs have a very loud and powerful alarm whistle. Every other animal listens to this, for it can mean life or death for them.
As I was sitting and meditating in the sunlight she decided I was too close to her home. She stuck her head out and gave a startling alarm to let me know of her boundary, and that I was too close for her feeling of safety. I carefully obliged and changed my location, knowing that this very moment and my choice would leave a deep imprint in her psyche and how she viewed me; friend or foe. Luckily I got to capture one of these sounds on my audio recorder.
Here is the alarm of groundhog. Listen to how the birds alarm in response.
She informs them of a danger, which in this case was me!
And the birds in turn alert the whole rest of the landscape;
whoever is aware enough to listen.
Later, as I was in my shelter, I got to watch her eating on her belly, scurrying and chewing. She was eating clover, grass, sorrel and plantain. I learned by observation that every time a groundhog eats it leaves a huge belly track on the grass, and then it later becomes a mystery to follow, and I could then pick that out of a landscape, “A groundhog has been here!” But, of course, this mystery often can’t be seen and is covered up because of our society’s obsessive compulsive mowing disorder.
As I was observing, It dawned on me that perhaps the reason groundhogs eat our garden is because we mow theirs. Then they have no choice but to eat the only plants we leave. They would prefer to eat closer to their shelter and escape and evade and not be exposed.
After observing this and filling my senses with the lessons and medicine it was time for lunch. I harvested as the groundhog had taught; eating a lunch of the many foods I watched her eat. All of those plants were already my good friends and I could ID them well.
Dan De Lion is an Earth Herbalist, Forager, Musician, and Teacher dedicated to working with Nature to further the healing of the planet and the soul. He teaches through Return to Nature, providing classes, lectures, and seminars on wild food foraging, mushroom identification, herbal medicine making, as well as primitive and survival skills with a focus on wild foods and forest medicines. www.returntonature.us