Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Groundhog Day 2012

A large flock of American robins appeared down the road from me the other day. At first, as anyone would easily imagine, thoughts of an early spring ran through my mind. But reality soon intervened, since, after all, it was still January. We have some time left yet for winter.

I suspect that these robins, and no doubt other groups of robins up and down the coast, hail from one of the offshore islands and are on a mini-vacation to the mainland. In fact, I’d bet that the robins I saw in Waldo came here from Vinalhaven or thereabouts. This is not at all unusual, especially during open winters and also, when a warm spell hits, the so-called, “January thaw.”

Robins aside, it’s time to talk woodchuck. Yes, February 2 is Groundhog Day and if the marmot sees its shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter. Well, that suits me just fine, since it would mean that by some time in mid-March, spring would arrive.

This Groundhog Day business is actually a European tradition that the early colonists brought over with them. It just happened that our woodchuck sort of resembled the European hedgehog, the animal that they used as a climate prognosticator.

Also, February 2 is Candlemas Day, a church holiday. Some churches continue to recognize and it, others have relegated Candlemas Day to the musty files of history.

But any way you look at it, February 2 has some meaning for many people. To end this digression, let me cite the following old-time maxim:
“The provident farmer by Candlemas Day
Has half his wood and half his hay.”

So I do hope that all of you have at least half or more of your wood, hay, canned and frozen vegetables and whatever else you need to make it through the winter. February 2 marks a turning point. From here on out, things will begin to change in slow but steady increments.

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