Thursday, February 2, 2012
February 2, as my human readers learned in elementary school, is Groundhog Day. The Washington Post wasn't about to be scooped for this year's big prediction that (surprise, surprise) winter will last six more weeks.
When is the Vernal Equinox this year (in the Northern Hemisphere)? March 20, if memory serves. That's--let's see--seven weeks from now, more or less? So winter will last about seven more weeks. That's regardless of whether some dopey rodent sees his shadow.
Punxsutawney Phil Sees His Shadow
(Feb. 2, 2012)
(Click Graphic Above to Play Video)
Frankly, I think the poor fellow has a rough time of it. He gets hauled out of his comfortable snoozing quarters before an immense crowd (can you believe how many people were there?!!), some human "handlers" interpret what he's supposedly seeing, and then the crowd turns ugly when the message is more winter. I mean, that audience sounded downright frightening. I was waiting for them to storm the platform and roast poor, pitiful Phil over a spit, right then and there. It's always the messenger who gets shot, as the saying goes.
Look, I get the fact that the whole "shadow-seeing" stunt is about how harsh the remaining six or seven weeks of official winter are going to be. Presumably, that's what all those onlookers were getting steamed about.
Everybody knows that today's hoopla was simply a tip of the hat to the collective American folklore wisdom that animals are highly sensitive to changes in their environments. But allow moi to make plain that groundhogs, like all other non-human animals, know MUCH more about their environments than people think they do. We LIVE out there, folks, so we have to be finely attuned to the slightest environmental changes. That includes meteorological events.
So before we begin laughing too loudly at poor Punxsutawney Phil and his ilk, we should show some respect to the groundhog's innate ability to know when to remain underground or otherwise "holed up" until warmer weather approaches. We quadripedal mammals haven't survived for tens of millions of years longer than humans without good cause.
The more important question in all of this is: What "Cauli" name should I bestow upon groundhogs, or woodchucks as they are also commonly known? This requires some thought. Okay, that's sufficient. How about Whistle-Pigs? Hey, I didn't even have to invent that. You can look it up.
Go back to bed, Phil. It's not the bad winter weather you'll be avoiding; it's all those goofy people out there that subjected you to today's torment. But I expect you're pretty well-fed for your one-working-day-a-year gig. So you're probably down with that. Sounds like a fairly easy job to moi.
Here's Predicting Six More Weeks of Canned Tuna-in-Oil For Moi,
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Holiday News Beat
P.S. "Ground Hog," by the Watson Family, was released on CD by Smithsonian Folkways (1993, 2000). Doc Watson reminded us that whistle-pigs are fairly good eating. Just saying. You may also listen to the song on SoundCloud, where my Library has uploaded some of its video soundtrack music.