02 February 2008

Six more weeks of winter!

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken.

OK, he's a cousin, not a conventional "squirrel," and his meteorological message was interpreted by humans, rather than transmitted by from word-of-rodent-mouth delivery. But he has told us six more weeks of winter and we obedient humans had best bundle up for the duration.

Groundhog Day finds its roots in old German tradition but its draw has somehow survived, and flourished, in the New World. Out west, we now have Prairie Dog
Day, honoring yet another squirrel cousin - this one, an endangered variety.

Does anyone suspect that the manufacturers of winter outerwear perhaps sponsor these Groundhog Day events, a true celebration of winter, with each outerwear company bribing their own local prognosticators (we have them in New York too), hoping to make a killing in late-season parka and snow boot sales?

Nah. Me neither. I'm cynical but I'm not quite that jaded. Not yet anyway.

I think it's great that this tradition endures, and has even evolved into something new in the western states - a plea for prairie dog preservation. This turns an old European superstition about a big burrowing squirrel into a plea for environmental awareness out West and protection of an imperiled animal.

Meanwhile, it's still winter. And it will be for a while. But we can look forward to a bright new season nonetheless, one of Increased Squirrel Awareness coming out of the shadows.


Anonymous said...

Listen, that silly ground hog doesn't have a clue ... plants in Houston are bright green with new growth, bougainvillea in full bloom, and temps are in the 70's. Come on down, the weather's fine!

Robert W Gilcrease said...

Well it's still winter here on the Permafrost Ranch, I awoke this morning to a cool -47.2 degrees F.


Kathleen Mortensen said...

Okay Mama, Come on over and read Willie's tale!

Damama T said...

1. I live in Houston, too, and anonymous is absolutely right. It has been mostly great here with sporadic cold spells. I'm wondering if that's what got the squirrel's so confused that they seem to have become seriously suicidal! I've seen so many run over in the last week that my stomach starts to hurt everytime I have to drive down one particular stretch of road.

2. I lived in Odessa for a time and LOVED going out to watch the prairie dogs with my mom. We'd take a picnic lunch and enough other stuff to share, nuts, bread and such, and spend the afternoon watching them scurry around doing their cute little thing. Maybe that's where I first developed my love of their furry littly behinds! LOL!

I'm sorry to hear they are endangered now. It would be a shame to lose them forever.