The Tale of Fatso the Groundhog

Far far away, in a deep deep forest, there is an ancient gnarled oak tree with a big hole among its roots. And, if you put your ear to that hole, you will hear a most curious sound:

snore ... whistle ... hiccup ... snore ... whistle ... hiccup ...

It is the hole of the fattest groundhog in the world. Fatso.

One fine morning, Fatso was dozing as usual, when ... he burped. Instantly, he sat up, horrified.

"Good heavens! A Burp! That means there is Empty Space in my Tummy. I must fill it right away!"

And he crawled up out of his hole and headed straight towards his favourite meadow, squashing everything behind him.

"Cheep! Cheep!! Cheep!!!" It was Daddy Robin. "You are ruining my special worm place!", he shrieked. "I need those worms to feed my little ones! How dare you squash it as hard as concrete! Go somewhere else!"

"Oh dear. Sorry about that!", mumbled Fatso, and began to take another route, through the bramble bushes.

"Thump! Thump!! Thud!!!" It was Daddy Rabbit. "How dare you squash all the leaves so flat in my bramble patch that my little ones can't hide from Grey Fox under them! Go somewhere else!".

"Oh dear. Sorry about that!", mumbled Fatso, and began to take yet another route, along the stream.

Suddenly, Fatso froze - Grey Fox, with her sharp teeth, was taking a drink just up the stream.

"Oh dear", mumbled Fatso, very quietly, and began to take yet another route.

Finally, he reached his favourite meadow. It was the back yard of a dumb suburbanite who kept mowing his whole place a cm high with a heavy ride-on mower, and who couldn't understand why it was always covered with dandelions.

Delicious! Fatso began to eat ... and to eat ... and to eat some more ...

Finally, even Fatso had to admit that his stomach was full. Life was good again. So, he started back home.

First he met Grey Fox. "Really, Ms. Fox", said Fatso, smiling sweetly so as to show off his huge, razor-sharp front teeth. "If you were to try to eat me, with all my cholesterol, you'd die of a heart attack! Then, what would your little ones do?"

Grey Fox looked at Fatso. "What a disgusting sight", she thought. "It's enough to put me off food for a week!" And, she headed back to the stream, to look for some healthy voles.

Next, he passed by Daddy Rabbit's bramble patch. "Relax, you featherweight of a fur ball", Fatso sniffed. "Grey Fox won't be looking for food here for a week. Tell your little ones to eat bramble berries!"

Finally, he crossed Daddy Robin's worm patch. "You poor thing - having to eat slimy worms", said Fatso. "I, Fatso, have just feasted on the finest of dandelion flowers!" And, leaving a totally compacted path behind him, he waddled to his hole, slid down, and went back to sleep.

snore ... whistle ... hiccup ... snore ... whistle ... hiccup ...

You see - confidence is everything.

And, it's OK to be a bit rude to someone who's been rude to you first. After all, why should a robin or rabbit feel he's entitled to tell a groundhog he's not allowed to be a groundhog?

John Sankey