- Summer -

Groundhog Day

Rex's USA Diary

A what day?

My feeling is that a 'Groundhog Day' isn't planned, it just happens. Sort of like Jed Clampett discovering oil in his back yard - they come as a bit of a surprise. Well anyway, my Groundhog Day did.

When I say 'my' Groundhog Day, I am not suggesting it was my groundhog - more like his own groundhog, but he happened to be in my back yard at the same time I was there, so the occasion became 'my' day if you get my drift.

So, the scene is this. A lazy day near the end of summer, mild temperatures, deck chair on the patio, healthy sandwich on the bench, bottle of beer beside right elbow, quietly minding my own business reading a book. And then it happened! Nothing really. No inkling of a momentous occasion, no feeling of deja-vu or premonition causing tingles down my spine. I just happened to glance up and there it was.

Where previously there had been a normal patch of grass, there was now an upright little hairy beast thing giving me the eye. As if to say what was I doing in its garden. Hmph!

I am going to have to give him a name because 'hairy little beast thing' is not a very polite way to address a groundhog. He probably already has a name, but since I don't know it and this is my web page, I will call him Wojak - sort of as in 'woodchuck'. (Yes ladies, I will call the first chipmunk I find in my back yard a cute little lady chipmunk type name.)

Wojak assessing my garden

A bit more about the Wojak (Wo) event. Dead still, not a movement! Either of us. I was not even sure what it was. Thoughts of 'boot scraper on end', 'fat squirrel - no tail' and 'bright little eyes - hasn't it seen a human before' flitted past. Wo then chose to sit down and give me a side view. Nice profile Wo. Tail a lot smaller than a squirrel's, body a bit bigger. Chubby little cheeks. Wo moved to his left a bit which put him out of my line of sight behind the maple tree, even with a bit of neck stretching. Nothing then happened for a few seconds so I didn't know if he was sneaking up on my sandwich (or beer). Eventually I sat forward and there he was - for a startled moment - following which he showed me what a groundhog bottom looked like as he scuttled into the trees at the back of the garden. A known safe haven for groundhogs.

Very nice little encounter. Thanks Wo.

Internet Advice

According to Internet sources, groundhogs were used for predicting the seasons before the advent of doppler weather radar. The weather was predicted annually on 2 February (which is groundhog day as you probably already know) using slightly altered scientific values of the following sort:

On 2 February the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day is cloudy he remains out, as the weather is going to be moderate.

Groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low, being on average about 39%. Hmmm, what accuracy does one get from the Met Office?

Hasta La Winter - Baby

Check Stormfax if you want to learn more about groundhogs. In the meantime, here is a groundhog visiting someone else's back yard.

Wojak looking surprised (or happy maybe)