This past week, we paid homage to a rather lumbering critter known as the groundhog. You know, Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck, usually surrounded by men in tuxedos and top hats gathered to enact a yearly weather tradition. What exactly is a groundhog? It belongs to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. But ultimately, they are rodents, the largest group of mammals with nearly 1500 species.
And I have a very soft spot in my heart for that group.
About six years ago, I fell in love with a cousin of the groundhog, the guinea pig.
Now when I mention my deep affection for guinea pigs, many people feel compelled to share that they too had a guinea pig…when they were 7 years old.
I am a long way from 7, and yet, I am completely taken by these charmers.
They are smart, funny, and terribly innocent, which is so refreshing.
You see, I believe that guinea pigs can teach us how to love. You love this creature just because. There is no quid pro quo. And isn’t that what pure, unconditional love is about? One loves not because of the love you receive in return, but rather because of the emotion ignited within.
So, the guinea pig, the distant relative of the groundhog, reminds me of how we can care for, protect, and yes, love a creature who can not do much for us in return, but just be. And that is a wonderful notion to consider with Valentine’s Day coming up on the heels of the yearly February 2 tradition.