It was a moment, an instant when the urge struck me. I looked at the door to our balcony, the blinds drawn on the gateway as well as on the three windows in our living room. The sunlight pushing through the slats made it feel like maybe spring is establishing a firm hold on northern New Jersey.
So I stepped outside, testing the air in bare feet, shorts and a T-shirt. I looked down at the cemetery below our perch and spotted the birds fluttering about the grass, a flock of sparrows with a handful of robins, a pair of dove pigeons and one cardinal.
And there, scurrying about near the Dakers' tombstone was the first groundhog of the spring.
Last year, we didn't spot any hogs through March or April, causing some concern that perhaps they'd abandoned their home beneath ours. But while away on my Memorial Day weekend road trip through the Rockies, I received a text message from Casey: "Joyous occasion -- at least 3 or 4 groundhog babies!"
This year, with our likely (hopefully soon-to-be-impending; more on that later) move, I had hoped we'd catch a glimpse of them before the beginning of May, when we'll be at the end of our lease.
Thankfully, that hope turned into reality today, and I snapped a couple of photos to be sure to preserve the moment. But I expect several more in the coming weeks.