Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Rodent-based Holiday

Happy Groundhog Day, a holiday that is mostly undiscovered by both the greeting card industry and home decorating industry. There are no groundhog carols, no feasts, no pageantry, no parades, no inflatable lawn ornaments, no Martha Stewart groundhog centerpieces—not much of anything, even though it is America’s only rodent-based holiday.

The groundhog either sees his shadow or not, an event that is over in a matter of minutes. (Note: originally in Europe the badger was the rodent of choice; early German settlers in America found few badgers, but they found an abundance of groundhogs.)

Hence for this under-rated holiday, I offer this poem that I wrote years ago for a Virginia Poetry Society contest. (The poem neither won nor placed.) I hate to waste it, so here goes:

The Groundhog
by Becky Mushko

The groundhog, I’m fairly certain,
Lives behind no silken curtain,
Lounges on no chaise or chair,
Wears no garments but his hair.

The groundhog, I do believe,
Keeps no secrets up his sleeve
Since he doesn’t wear a shirt.
He spends his days in digging dirt.

The lowly groundhog, I have found,
Makes his home beneath the ground,
Shuns townhouse and doublewide,
And makes do with his hole’s inside.

This large rodent, I have learned,
Has—of necessity—luxury spurned.
Both his needs and wants are few.
He only does what he needs to do.

But every winter, he has a day when
He ventures forth from his cozy den
As his fans eagerly watch and wait
To see what he’ll prognosticate.

When the sun is out in force,
The groundhog’s shadow appears, of course;
If he sees it, we can be sure
Six weeks of winter we’ll endure.

If clouds prevail and sun can’t shine,
No shadow means weather will be fine.
The groundhog really doesn’t care;
He just returns to his cozy lair

Underground, so snug and deep,
That sheltered him for his winter sleep.
About his forecast, he doesn’t worry
As humans do each February.

If you prefer, you can celebrate today as Candlemas. According to an old saying:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas day bring clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won't come again.

Another holiday that happens around this time is the Celtic Imbolc, which comes halfway between the winter solstice and the equinox.

So, Happy Groundhog Day, Merry Candlemas, and a Joyful Imbolc to all! If you think of a good way to celebrate, let me know.

This morning is sunny and the temperature is in the 40s. Looks like winter will stay awhile.

P.S. Yesterday Maggie and Hubert investigated a few groundhog holes. The groundhogs didn’t come out. I don’t think Maggie would have given the groundhog time to see its shadow if one had come out.



Blogger Amy Tate said...

I really hope there is a tree or something in his way. I am really tired of cold weather. Although when I landed in Greensboro yesterday it was a wonderful 67 degrees!

12:21 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

It's also Farrah Fawcett's birthday. I think we should celebrate by wearing big bar hair wigs.

7:55 PM  

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