Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ground Hog's Day

Happy Imbolc everyone!  I celebrated this sabbat last night, in my own way.  It was a quiet satisfying evening, reflective, during which many candles burned, and the fire in the woodstove burned through to the wee hours of the morning.

The evening was complimented with a reappearance of the Skunk (see my previous post).  Pups and I went out to the backyard on our evening jaunt.  After “doing their duty” they went on “alert”.  They were clearly seeing something I couldn’t see, despite the light of the half moon.  I didn’t personally see Mr. Stinky, but, I have seen plenty of his tracks in the snow, around the brushy area that borders our property.  Thanks but no thanks, Mister.  My new winter coat still stinks!

I suppose I should be grateful that the evening was warm enough that skunks would roam.  Normally the beginning of February is too cold to see them come out of their semi-hibernation.  But I don’t like this warm weather now.  It’s sort of like an unpleasant bill, ok you don’t have to pay now, but it may end up being more painful to pay later.  If I am going to have huge snowbanks in my yard, I’d rather see them in January thru February.  Rather than in March, lasting into April.  (And yes, in years past, I’ve had residual snow banks up to and even beyond tax day.)

So I am happy that January is over.  There is not much good that’s happened the past few January’s.  The arrival of W2’s,  prospect of filing taxes, the need to do the FASFA’s with not much hope of good news back….yuck. 

But I am still hopeful.  I am feeling that getting skunked is actually an omen of good fortune.  Although I don’t have the final answer, things still look good on the job front.  The timing of getting skunked, so close to Imbolc and Groundhog’s Day, seems propitious to me.

Today’s traditions have their earliest roots with the Romans, who believed that the conditions the first few days of February were good indicators of the upcoming weather patterns.  However, they looked to the habits of hedgehogs for their predictions.

It was in Germany that these traditions were firmly cemented; German immigrants brought the origins of the tradition of Groundhog’s Day with them to America.  Our native groundhog (or woodchuck, as he is otherwise known) was the closest in kind to the hedgehog on this side of the Atlantic.  And since the 18th century, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow in sunlight, and sees his shadow, then we have six more weeks of winter to endure.  If it is cloudy, and no shadow is seen, winter is over.

In 1887 a group of groundhog hunters formed the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and dubbed Phil the “one and only” official weather prognosticating groundhog.  A four day festival has evolved over time.  Phil is supposedly immortal, due to an “elixir of life”  served at the annual Groundhog Picnic.  Other than these two outings, Phil resides in the Groundhog Zoo, an annex of the town library.  All in all, not a bad life for a groundhog, who normally are targets of both their natural predators, and sometimes, frustrated gardeners……

Phil now has rivals….there’s Staten Island Chuck, and Woodstock Willie (from the Chicago area), among a few others.  I guess, why should Punxsutawney have all the fun?

OK then, what does the Groundhog have to say?  That’s the 64 dollar question on February 2.  Well this morning, I got up and went out with the dogs.  The sky was completely leaden.  Didn’t feel like snow, and it was just cold enough not to rain, but the air was not that bitter cold dry air either.  At any rate, there was no chance of any sunlight penetrating.  No chance that my local groundhog, the one who makes bad eating choices in my gardens, would see any shadow, if he bothered getting up today….

We watched Punxsatawney Phil and his keepers on TV… who declared that Phil did indeed see his shadow, and six more weeks of winter are our fate.  Although, Woodstock Willie disagreed – he did not see his shadow!

Sorry, Phil.  This year I will beg to differ with you.  And guess what.  I’ve got Mr. Stinky to back me up.  Come on, Spring!

Happy Groundhog’s Day anyways!

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