Usually by this time every winter I am more than anxious for Groundhog Day to get here so I can find out what is ahead, an early spring or another six weeks of winter. It is also the norm for this time of year that the schools have used up a lot of their snow days. That isn't the case this year, I think they have only used two so far. It is a little on the difficult side to call a snow day when we are having 65 degree temperatures and thunderstorms.
I have always had a passing interest in groundhogs, but never really did a lot of research on the little critters. The old timers have been heard saying that they are good eating because they eat vegetables and fruit. After we moved to the mountain in 2004 we had our first close encounter with our "neighbor groundhog". At that time we had a Japanese peach tree in the yard. It was a pretty tree, but a very messy one and we talked about taking it out not long after we moved in. It just sort of grew however it wanted to. There was no grooming it, as far as pruning went, it dropped limbs and twigs whenever and where ever it felt like. The fruit, although good was very small and by the time the fuzz was peeled away and the pit taken out there really wasn't a lot to work with. We knew it was just a matter of time before the lawn mower would catch an overlooked pit and take out a window or two. It wasn't long after we moved in that the tree dropped it's fruit and we came to know our groundhog. We discovered him sitting under the tree one evening in the middle of all that fallen fruit oblivious to the world around him. Eating to his hearts content. After a while something caught his attention and he took off down the hill to the woods on the back of our property. That is when I got the best laugh I'd had in a long time. That little critter (not really little at all) looked exactly like furry jello as he ran down that hill. His fur just rippled and rolled. The rest of that spring I watched for him every day to come and fill his belly (which he did) just so I could see him run for the woods when he was finished. We did eventually get rid of the tree because of the mess and the window issue.
I went searching for information on Groundhog Day this morning so we can all be up on the subject when the big day rolls around. The best site I found was the Official Puxsutawney Phil Groundhog Site. It was at this site that I learned Groundhog Day first came about in the 1800s. I had no idea that it has been around that long. I found this quote there as well: The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May..." The site is full of other interesting information like groundhog history, past predictions and fun facts. It is at this site you can even join the Puxsutawney Groundhog Club if your heart desires. Check it out when you have time.
Meanwhile I wish everyone a good day.