Groundhog Day, in my opinion, is the high point of winter. For those of you who may not be familiar with this rather bizarre North American event, on February 2 thousands of Canadians and Americans gather around a groundhog burrow to see if the groundhog can see his shadow as he exits. According to tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow, he will return to his burrow for another six weeks, signalling another month and a half of winter, but if he doesn’t see it, he decides that spring is here and he comes out and does whatever groundhogs do when they are done hibernating. To fully appreciate this event, you have to temporarily forget about things like climatology, meterology and how cold your toes are right now.
In the part of Western North Carolina where I live, there are two “official” groundhogs: Nibbles, who has a burrow near Asheville, and about 25 miles away, Grady, who resides in Chimney Rock. Generally, they agree on their Groundhog Day predictions, but this year, because of some odd weather patterns, it was cloudy in Asheville when Nibbles came out of her burrow but sunny in Chimney Rock when Grady appeared. So Nibbles is predicting an early spring while Grady predicts another six weeks of winter. Clearly, a tie-breaker of some sort is needed. So I went for a walk looking for groundhogs and I didn’t see any at all. Could this mean that all the local groundhogs went back into their burrows to sleep for another six weeks? Maybe I was making too much noise as I walked along and I scared them off.
I guess I’ll have to just wait and see….