Tuesday, February 2, 2010

six more weeks

Wiarton Willie saw his shadow this morning, and so we have six more weeks of winter. Shubenacadie Sam, and Punxsutawney Phil did, and I'm going to assume our furry little friends R.O.U.S.'s in the LU Garden have also seen their shadows.
This means six more weeks of winter reading, so I picked up a copy of The God of Small Things today from the university bookstore. Winner of the Booker Prize, I was sold by the description of being "lush and lyrical", and the first chapter title: PARADISE PICKLES & PRESERVES.
Roy begins with a description of Ayemenem, India in May; rich in red ripening bananas, and fruity air - just the sort of place I want to read myself into on this cold February. A little bit of travel writing to take me some place else.

Groundhogs are popping up all over the city, not only in the LU Garden. The courthouse on Court Street also boasts a groundhog, and I'm sure there are some living near the ridge of Hillcrest Park - near our garden. Luckily Claire and Gromit have little affection for large rodents, and will do well at keeping them at a distance. woof

The legend of the groundhog's forecasting powers, though up for discussion, dates back to the early days of Christianity in Europe when clear skies on the holiday Candlemas Day, celebrated on Feb. 2, meant an extended winter.
The tradition founds its way to Germany, altering so that that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas, a hedgehog would cast its shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of cold weather.
The Groundhog Day was then carried on in North America during the late 1800s thanks to a Pennsylvanian newspaper editor and publisher, who organized and popularized a yearly festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The festival featured a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil to foretell how long the winter would last.

A typical groundhog, or by its scientific name Marmota monax, weighs approximately 9.5 pounds with a body length reaching about 20 inches.
Groundhogs use their short, powerful legs, claws, and large teeth to dig underground living habitats, which can run quite extensively with as many as five entrances and various tunnels extending some 45 feet, and as deep underground as 5 feet.

"Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia's furry season forecaster, spots his shadow as he emerges from his enclosure in Shubenacadie, N.S. on Monday, Feb. 2, 2009."
(Photo by Andrew Vaughan / 

As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger

If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight

If Candlemas be cloud and snow
Winter will be gone and not come again

A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay.

On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop.

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