Groundhog’s Day, Best Holiday of the Year
Okay, I don’t have a photograph of a groundhog. That’s a picture of a citrus rat and he chased me after I took it.
The rat sets the mood, just as well as any other puffball. Like the groundhog, rats at my house let me know what to expect from the weather. I’m not the only person who improvises with the German tradition of relying on a rodent’s reaction to sunlight on February 2 before making plans for February and March.
In the old country, farmers relied on the instincts of hedgehogs and badgers. If the critters saw their shadows at the harvest celebration, it meant winter still lingered in the air. Then again, if the badger eagerly dashed out of his home, it meant the cold season was over. The intense sunlight at the end of winter was too bright to cast a shadow in the morning. Sunny skies heated the ground and melted the reflective snow.
Why was this significant to farmers? Timing how long to ration saved grains and vegetables meant survival. The warmer weather signaled the farm animals to start smooching. The earth thawed and farmers could churn the soil for the next crop.
With the threat of global warming, understanding our environment is as critical to our survival today as it was for our primitive ancestors. You don’t have to travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and stand in a crowd with tens of thousands of frozen tourists at six in the morning so you can witness a man in a top hat toss Phil, the one hundred year old groundhog, through a hole with electric heat in order to read nature’s hints about the coming months.
Go outside, right now and look around. Is there any critter activity? Are you sure? Study the trees and any other manmade structure suitable for tiny claws to climb up or perch on. Are there birds, aside from pigeons and crows, flying overhead? Are insects buzzing around your head?
If the coast is clear, expect six more weeks of inconvenience. Plan to spend time at home, stuffing your face with your favorite desserts and hot drinks. Maybe use the extra chilly weekends as a motivation to snuggle.
If you hear birds chirping and rats scampering to hide, head straight to the gym. Bikini season will be early this year.