See the Light
Those who know me, know my favorite day of the year is Ground Hog Day. Life is short so sometimes it’s a wonderful thing to be silly! For many years, I have advocated for this holiday which is severely underrated and under promoted. You might even say it’s an underground movement!
Ironically, the days I am most interested in celebrating are sun related, kind of a strange one for the melanoma cancer patient, right? Winter solstice, Fourth of July, and yes, Ground Hog Day being tops on my list! So why do I love GH day? It’s a low maintenance holiday: no major gift giving, no seasonal decorations needed, and no pressure to get it all done! It’s our time to wish each other a Happy Ground Hog Day, to consider and talk about Spring (YAHOO, it is possibly happening again!!!!), and to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel (literally).
I’ve taken to some subversive tactics over the years. My love of literacy has afforded me that annual opportunity to propagandize Ground Hog Day at my libraries, surely tainting those young minds and developing an unsuspecting following. Why, sometimes even elders understand this devotion; I hear from a grandmother every year as we exchange Ground-Hoggedly Greetings!
Storytimes have included books such as Footprints and Shadows, Shadow, and a reading of Stevenson’s poem My Shadow. One of my favorites is Moonbear’s Shadow and the list goes on and on. Take into consideration that the shadows we see are created by seeing the light! Projects might include: going out to measure your shadow and discussing the varying lengths at varying times, learning some basic shadow theater hand puppets, or weather activities such as painting the weather for that day or studies in black, gray, and white!
- Ground Hog Day is always celebrated on February 2nd
- It’s half way between the official start of Winter and the official start of Spring
- Groundhogs are also variously referred to as woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land-beavers.
- The name whistle-pig comes from the fact that, when alarmed, a groundhog will emit a high-pitched whistle as a warning to the rest of his or her colony
- The name woodchuck has nothing to do with wood. Or chucking. It is derived from the Algonquian name for the critters, wuchak
- One of the largest rodents, part of the squirrel family
- Lives underground with pathways and burrows, having a separate winter den
- Hibernates generally from October to March, depending on location
- Hibernation can mean their body temperature drops to about 41 degrees (normal 98.6 degrees like us)
- Breeding season is March-May with a 30-32 day gestation period
- Litter of 2- 6 young (called pups or kits) though can have more
- Kits stay with their Mama about two to three months after being born in mid-April to May
- Youngsters disperse and leave mom’s burrow by Fall. However, about thirty five percent of females stick around until after their first birthdays, right before mom’s new litter arrives
- Groundhogs are super for study of hepatitis B-induced liver cancer. In fact, if infected with Woodchuck Hepatitis B virus, the animal always goes on to develop liver cancer, making them useful for the study of liver cancer and of hepatitis B.
Punxsutawney Phil Lives
So here’s my truth, rodentially speaking, I really don’t like rodents at all. NOT AT ALL! And what’s more, whatever Phil proclaims weather-wise, it NEVER has relevance in the Northeast. We are shoveling winter off our doorstep or burrowing for the next 6 weeks and more guaranteed PERIOD! We will be demonstrating squirrelly behaviors and gnawing for warmer days!
Some think I’m absolutely foolish, others have embraced my desire for some mid-winter FUN! I’ve had staff make me ground hog shaped brownies, been given donuts with a ground hog poking out the hole, and a super-tacky Ground Hog necklace. I’ve gifted others “a just because” package to brighten their mid-winter blues (though Ground Hog Day is far more than “just because” in my mind!), and found awesome Valentine’s cards with those furry not-so-little rodents on them (multi-tasking the holidays of February!).
Remember this is a no stress holiday! Wish those around you a Happy Ground Hog Day. Rejoice in the knowing that Spring will happen (it will, right?). Grab your seed catalogs or a good book, put on the tea water, and celebrate the day, celebrate you! Did you notice how late the sun set last night as the thermometer dipped to the negatives with hurricane force winds? It’s really very positive, this Ground Hog Day inspiration, the light I mean, not the shadow! #melanomatheskin #GroundHogDay #FridayThoughts #WorldReadAloudDay #bookreview #melanoma #skincancer #followthelight #smile
Please sign up for my blog, let me know how you will celebrate in the comments, and thanks for spreading the Good word! Happy Ground Hog Day to you and yours!