Groundhog Day

Lia Lion

 

Ok, she’s not dressed as a groundhog, but close enough.  And the picture of Lia has as much to do with Groundhog Day as woodchucks have to do with predicting the weather.  Why do such foolish traditions persist in our speed-of-light modern age?

The origins of Groundhog Day are buried in the swirling mists of our past.  February 2 is Candlemas, a date exactly mid-way between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.  Superstitious Europeans believed cloudy weather this day meant an early spring and sunny weather indicated unremitting blasts of wintery weather for at least six more weeks.  Should the hedgehog see his shadow on Candlemas, winter would be long.

Once Europeans settled in North America, the groundhog was substituted for the hedgehog.  Here in Maine, all the woodchucks are in deep hibernation and there is no danger of their peeking from holes for at least six weeks, anyway.  The holes are buried under two feet of snow and ice.

Today at the farm, it is cloudy and above freezing.  A storm came through overnight and left about three inches of wet snow.  Will the remainder of winter be mild?  Possibly.  If the past few decades are any indication, winter ends earlier every year.  February and March are often quite mild, with frequent chilly, dry Aprils.

To further influence the weather and encourage early warming, I offer these shots of spring blooms waiting in my garden beneath the snow. Happy Groundhog Day!

crocus1 hyacinth primrose

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