Over the weekend we were out for a drive with the visiting Germans when suddenly a roly-poly critter scurried across the road. The German dad slammed on the brakes and said, "What's that?"
"That's a groundhog," I said. There followed a rapid flurry of German as the dad described this wondrous creature to his enthralled family members. I didn't understand a word of it, but he spoke with the kind of excitement I might use to describe a close encounter with a unicorn. Finally he turned to me and said, "What do they do?"
I had to think about this for a moment. "They get into the garden and eat up your vegetables," I said. "People shoot them."
"No," I said, "for vengeance."
I was rescued from further explanation by the sudden appearance in the road of another roly-poly critter that excited similar excitement: a VW bug. That I can explain. Groundhogs, on the other hand, defy explanation.
I thought about suggesting that our visitors take some groundhogs back to Germany with them, but they'd never make it through security.