An Early End to Winter a Possibility?
How much longer will winter last? Many anxiously
await this special forecast as Groundhog Day approaches. Itís a simple
formula, if the groundhog comes out on February 2, and sees his shadow,
(implying the sun is out) heíll go back into his hole, and thereíll
be another six weeks of winter. If thereís no shadow, he stays outside,
and Spring will be here. Sounds fantastic? In these days of global
warming, greenhouse effect, and El Nino, can we be so sure?
The basis of Groundhog Day can be traced back to the
early Christian holiday Candelmas, which comes 40 days after Christmas.
According to an old English song:
be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again
Christian celebrations replaced older observances. The date also happens to fall midway between winter solstice
and vernal equinox, important seasonal turning points known by ancient societies
to describe the
sunís movement through the sky and the length of night and day.
So what does
any of this have to do with the groundhog? Well, being a true hibernator,
they usually donít emerge until March. If their sleep cycle is somehow affected by
climatic changes, then his early appearance in February
may be interpreted as an indicator of warmer months ahead. Or maybe they
just pay better attention to the world around them than we do! ( Or
perhaps they're out looking for other groundhogs to..., uh well, ...you
what does all of this have to do with Old Time music? Well, the groundhog does
have his own song:
comes Groundhog outta his hole
his shadow, against the wall,
more weeks of winter f'o' y'all,
I CONFESS!!! I just made up that verse, the song doesn't really
have anything to do with Groundhog Day. But, Old Time musicians do spend
their vacations travelling to festivals, and even if the weather never stops the music for long, it is a comfort to be able to mentally prepare
for it. So, if you're lucky enough to be really tight with
a groundhog, ( they make great traveling companions ) you'll be the first to know when the next ice age arrives.
For those of us not so lucky, keep watching the Weather Channel!
Please visit the official Groundhog Day site: