Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhogs as omens, portents and harbingers.

Whenever I see a Groundhog, it makes me sad.

Sad is a strange reaction to seeing a large rodent.

When I saw one, I thought of food. Food for desperate times. Days when any kind of meat would do. Our family could not be picky and survive for long.

Killing one was only the beginning. FYI, Groundhogs require lots of time and attention just to get them to a point of acceptance as victuals.  If one was not prepared properly, the meat would not be chewed and savored.  Oh No! It would be bitten off in small bits and promptly swallowed.  Soaking the meat in milk may have helped the taste but who could afford milk?

I know…Groundhog’s Day is a quaint custom. Knowing what I know about Groundhogs; no self-respecting Groundhog would be caught dead outside its burrow and cozy, underground den in early February, especially not in Pennsylvania.  That’s even farther north than this area. Groundhogs are herbivores. They mostly eat plants and Groundhogs WILL wake up hungry.  They do have a territory to graze but it’s not large. So plants need to be actively growing when they emerge from their dens. That’s probably the best time to kill and eat one. Most of the offending, rancid, stored up fat has been utilized by the Groundhog’s body to sustain it while in its stupor state.

We might have stood vigil at its den opening with great expectation but it certainly wouldn’t be to observe it and take note of whether it saw its shadow or not. Anyway, if whether the sun was shinning on Candlemas Day was a harbinger of six more weeks of winter before Spring made an appearance, any object that was capable of casting a shadow would have sufficed, even the observer’s body.

Crocus are more dependable than a Groundhog’s shadow. I’ve seen them poking their heads up through a layer of snow and ice before Spring came around.

Groundhog’s and sunlight are not compatible in my opinion. Bright light causes them to rub their sleep-filled eyes before they can see a predator and to show up better in a rifle scope. No wonder they are afraid of it and run back down into their den for a longer nap. They appear more intelligent than your average Pilgrim on the hunt for desperation food. 

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