Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day!!! It's Just Another Woodchuck

So Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and that means I get 6 more weeks of Cream of Wheat, bad breath be damned. Things could be worse.

You know I had to look up the spelling for that little guy, and got carried away by the tomes of information available on this overglorified rat. I thought groundhogs were just hairy 'possums, but I was wrong. It's not a rat, it's a woodchuck. Yes! Of the woodchuck who chucks wood kind.

Anyway, my reading took me on an educational adventure, and being a teacher, I thought I'd pass that on to you. I promise, no quiz.

First of all, Punxsutawney Phil first started popping out of his burrow in 1887. Who knew 'possums, I mean, groundhogs lived so long? But I digress--Punxsutawney is in Pennsylvania, which, besides being home to the Steelers (I'm rooting for Seattle) is also known for its German influence. The idea of a fuzzy animal having magical meteorological powers comes from them. This from a people who invented beer and trains that run on time. Proof that you can't have everything.

Anyway, the story goes that if a hibernating animal sees his shadow on Candlemas (TODAY!), then there will be a prolonged winter. If not, Spring comes early. There's even a little poem:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

Isn't that beautiful? The problem is of course in the actual predictability of this phenomenon based on one city. Today, it's pouring rain again in beautiful, exquisite Georgia. Not to be outdone, the southerners, or rather, Southerners (their own species) have hijacked this Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, and in spite of primarily English influences (and thus, not even remotely Catholic) celebrate Candelmas with their 'possum, I mean groundhog, named, of all things: General Beauregard Lee.

Some people never got the memo about the outcome of the Civil War.

Well, according to General Lee, Spring will come early. Dissention in the ranks? I think not; it's all for fun. Anyway, last time I checked, March 21 is still the first day of Spring.

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