Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog Day????

What a a bizarre holiday. Take an overgrown member of the squirrel family, stick it outside, then gather crowds around to stare at it to determine whether spring will be early or late. Yep, just plain weird.

Groundhog, whistlepig, woodchuck. All names for a large rodent in the squirrel family that has somehow become a traditional predictor of spring.

I have never understood the whole concept. Since my aunt's birthday was on Groundhog's day, my mom would watch the news just to see what the groundhog predicted and would talk about it for weeks. Drove me crazy!

There are a lot of flaws in this whole groundhog-spring-predicting-rigamarole. One, it just depends on whether it is cloudy or sunny whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not. Sunny=late spring, cloudy=early spring. No groundhog needed.

Yet, some say the groundhog is needed in the process. That it must see its shadow for spring to be delayed. How do you know Mr. Groundhog saw its shadow? Maybe it wasn't paying attention. Maybe it was too busy hamming it up for the cameras. How do you tell if a groundhog has actually seen its shadow? Does it do something to indicate it? Growl, chatter, wiggle its bottom?These are questions I would ask my parents and I never got a straight answer.

Another big flaw in the woodchuck-weather-predicting-hoopla. Groundhogs are true hibernators. The wild ones are still asleep in nice, warm burrows under the ground on February 2nd. So they shouldn't be out looking at their shadows, anyway. They eat plants and do not normally emerge until March or April. They don't chuck wood either. The woodchuck name comes from "wuchak", the Algonquian name for the animal.

So, I am not convinced. Yet, for all you believers out there, I will post the results from around the countryside. Boo, Puxatawny Phil, you naysayer! I am going with Malverne Mel's and Dunkirk Dave's predictions. Spring is just around the corner!

Early Spring-Roxborough Jorge Naba
Early Spring-French Creek Freddie
6 more weeks of winter-Buckeye Chuck
Early Spring-Saskatoon Evan
6 more weeks of winter-Balzac Billy
Early Spring-Malverne Mel
6 more weeks of winter-Woodstock Willie
6 more weeks of winter-Jimmy the Groundhog
6 more weeks of winter-Octoraro Orphie
Early Spring-Staten Island Chuck
6 more weeks of winter-Wiarton Willy
6 more weeks of winter-Shubenacadie Sam
6 more weeks of winter-Punxsutawney Phil
Early Spring-Dunkirk Dave

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