from: The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun
written by Wendie Old
Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Albert Whitman and Company, 2004
Last Spring I discovered a groundhog helping itself to my garden. Last Summer my husband relocated it. It was living under my kitchen and after cleaning up my whole garden except for the tomatoes, it dined on my side lawn. We did not want to kill the hog, just encourage it to live somewhere else. I looked for easy ideas on Google (where else would a retired children’s librarian try first?!) and found many plausible suggestions. The one my husband tried involved spraying around the hole with sudsy ammonia. The spray would not harm the groundhog, but it would not like the smell. After lots and lots of applications, we did not see the groundhog anymore. I kept a few really cute pictures of it, though.
Groundhog Day comes every February 2. Most people around the Midwest and especially Pennsylvania know that. I’m always surprised to find out some people have never heard of Groundhog Day. This happens much less since the 1993 Bill Murry/Andie MacDowell movie. But still.
My younger daughter married her husband on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in 2005. It was a beautiful, blue, cloudless day. The high reached 17 degrees.
The festivities began early. We caught the loop bus at 5:00 a. m. and danced till the sun finally came up. Most of the families on both sides came. We all had a grand time! Fireworks set to music started around 7:00. The choreography was amazing!
Then it was time to wake up Phil and find out when spring would arrive. We all hoped for a cloudy day to portend the coming of an early spring, but no such luck. Phil saw his shadow that morning and got scared. He ran back to his den, predicting six more weeks of Winter. We basked in the cold sunshine, anticipating a wedding. I don’t remember if Phil was correct that year. Most times he isn’t, but Spring always arrives.
After a luncheon reception, everyone left to go back home.
What a memorable couple of days. (Groundhog Day that year was on a Wednesday.) Once-in-lifetime works for me, but of course my daughter and her family want to go back. They almost did a couple of years ago, but the weather didn’t co-operate.
Thirteen years, three grandchildren, two cats, and a bunny rabbit later, my husband and I will celebrate with them again. Of course, even at their home, the festivities start early, but I can’t think of a better way to start the day than with an anniversary celebration!
Marking time is important. I just heard a snippet on the radio that February 2 is also known as Candlemas. So I investigated and found out that it occurs half-way between the Winter Solstice, when we experience the least amount of daylight and the Vernal Equinox, the time of equal amounts of daylight and darkness. The Gaelic festival of Imbolc and the feast day of St. Brigit (Candlemas) and Groundhog Day mark the same event!
All the groundhogs around here are still fast asleep. Even the one that moved from under my kitchen to under my neighbor’s porch. Oh, maybe that was a different one. They all look pretty much alike to me!
Happy Groundhog Day!