There are so many charming colloquialisms that come from living in this area. Not quite Midwest, not quite Appalachia, and with a mix of Southern, New England and all manner of dialects, debates over what to call stuff ensue on the reg.
The eternal "pop vs. soda" debate rages on (it's pop). A couch may be a couch or a sofa, but it's never a davenport - unless you're a Kennedy or something. A cart can be a buggy, but a sub is not a hoagie. That's just silly.
Who made these rules? Who knows. But you're better off sticking to your area's preference instead of trying to explain why you want Coke but you don't want a Coke.
I recently became aware of a new piece of gibberish I had no idea existed but apparently is the proper term for a certain populous backyard mammal in northeast Ohio.
My dudemate (my own colloquialism for the kinda-too-mushy term "boyfriend") told me one day that he "saw the whistlepig." I was thinking about asking him if he had a gas leak at his house, when he clarified that this "whistlepig" lived in my backyard and scurried behind the garage when he pulled up in his car.
Ooooh. You mean the groundhog, right? Not always. The happy little guy that is seen sniffing the air from the safety of the grass on the side of the highway, or the not-so-happy little guy who tells us it's going to be winter forever, so deal with it, can also be called a whistlepig, a woodchuck, or a - get this - "land-beaver." That last one sounds like something Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons" would say.
From what I've heard, most people around here call it a groundhog. Woodchucks seem to be more popular further south. But whistlepig? I never heard that baloney before. Was my dudemate just messing with me?
As with anything in life, "Breaking Bad" soon showed me the way. That Sunday's episode had DEA agent Hank Schrader making a toast with his colleagues from a bottle of Whistlepig whiskey. "See? See?" my dudemate gloated, and from then on I knew that groundhogs were dead to me - in name only. I wish them only long, fruitful lives.
We've all had encounters with those furry rapscallions of the backyard. Most of the time, you only have time to see them running off to hide under the woodpile, or back into their burrows. Some curse them for marring their lawns with holes. Others pray for their safe crossing of a busy roadway.
In my neighborhood at least, whistlepigs grow to be the size of housecats. Whatever they're eating, it turns them into huge yard beasts. My friends who lived across Wick Park had one that would charge at them when they left the house, and would look up into their window and stare as if to say, "Soon ... soon."
One of my first whistlepig encounters was when my family went to stay at Salt Fork Lodge about an hour south of here, and one morning outside our balcony window was a big, hungry whistlepig, who I guess was accustomed to guests throwing him goodies.
Whatever you call him, try and share the road - and yard - with this furry neighbor. Maybe you'll become friends, and he will finally tell you how much wood he can chuck - or when winter will REALLY end.
Do you call it a groundhog, whistlepig, or what? Tell me at ssepanek@
tribtoday.com, or comment on this story at www.tribtoday.com.