The woodchuck slept deeply, the only sound in her snug burrow a faint minor chord that occasionally whistled through her nose. It got stuffy in there without a humidifier.
The phone alarm started clanging, and she moaned and reached blindly in the darkness to locate it. It lit up and she winced as her pupils dilated, hitting the snooze button that would allow her just one more day of rest. She hated having to get up for work in the middle of winter. Who had decided that February 2 was going to be Groundhog’s Day? They celebrated Lincoln’s birthday on a Monday because it was more convenient for federal workers— why couldn’t she do the shadow thing in May when everyone was pleased to be outside?
Now she had to pee. Resigned that there was no going back to sleep, she rolled over in the dirt and slowly pushed her bulk into a sitting position. Boy, she needed to work on her core this spring. Something pink floated down the burrow hole from the surface, and she grabbed at it before it hit the ground. Maybe it was a party invitation!
She squinted at the words that seemed very dim, and then realized she still had her sunglasses on. Although her vision had returned to normal after the unfortunate eclipse incident, she still liked to wear them because she felt smarter with her dark specs perched on her nose. One of her cousins had said she looked like “a rodent Annie Sullivan,” and she knew that one day she would live up to that reputation if she could just find a young woodchuck to teach how to fold its napkin.
She squinted at the invitation, hoping that she would have time before the party for the core work to kick in. She didn’t see a date or a suggested dress code, but the word Termination was scrawled across the front. This was confusing; perhaps it had something to do with those damn insects that chewed up all the good wood in the forest before she had a chance to chuck it?
Her cousin Shirley poked her upside-down head into the burrow. “Oh, Phil, I’m so sorry about your job – I just heard!”
“What did you heard?” the woodchuck said in confusion.
“You’ve been fired! The winters have gotten so mild that the town of Punxsutawney decided that they don’t need to do the countdown to spring anymore, so you have been made redundant.”
“Well, I wish they had told me that before I got up from hibernation,” complained the woodchuck.
“That’s your reaction? Aren’t you upset because climate change has removed your one source of income and possibly changed your whole way of life?
“Oh, really Shirley, aren’t you over reacting? None of this is my problem. This isn’t going to affect me – I’ll just get to sleep in!”
“Phil, have you not been paying attention to anything? The weasels have been rolling back environmental protections – pretty soon the groundwater will be contaminated, and your burrow is going to fill up with toxic sludge. I heard they are going to start caging chickens, and the weasels will have the keys to the henhouse! This entire month has been full of tribunals trying to get the Fox out of the big tree, and the turtle and other weasels just let him do whatever he wants. Our woods are headed in a very bad direction if we let them keep making decisions that only profit themselves. I can’t believe you don’t think this is your problem – it’s the problem of every animal in the forest!”
“Shirley, I just want to close my eyes for another month or so. Then I’ll make some phone calls or something.”
“That’s not enough, Phil. We need to be outraged! We should be marching through the trees, demanding change, trying to save this forest for the next generation of woodland creatures. I’m so disappointed in you. And your mother would be, too.”
The woodchuck watched silently as her outraged cousin scrambled up and out of the burrow and left her alone in the dark. Slowly she put her sunglasses back on, which were a lot like blinders. She was so tired. She would just take a little nap. Surely there were different animals who could worry about this, including Shirley. Others would stop the Fox and the weasels. This really wasn’t her problem.
She went back to sleep.