Fire and Amulet by Helen Henderson
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February - the month of romance. For couples who didn't get engaged on New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day is an alternative. Then a June wedding is held. However, there is more to the month than the one event. Before the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate come out, there is Groundhog Day, celebrated on February 2nd.
What could be the most well-known event celebrating Groundhog Day is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. People gather in Gobbler’s Knob to see Punxsutawney Phil predict the weather for the rest of the winter. According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow (meaning the Sun is shining), winter will not end early, and we’ll have another 6 weeks left of it. However, what many wish for is a cloudy day. For if Phil doesn't see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
Pennsylvania is not the only place which claims a weather prognosticator. Among the other furry marmots which join the activity are Jimmy the Groundhog, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Sir Walter Wally, Raleigh, N.C.; Shubenacadie Sam, Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Canada; and my favorite, Staten Island Chuck, New York City.
|The Ivy Hill woodchucks loved|
to eat the tall grasses in the field and
along the lane.
According to the Farmers' Almanac, "Groundhogs prefer to eat wild grasses, leaves, berries, and, as any gardener who’s ever had one around knows, food crops." In some parts of the country, a sign of approaching spring is when the groundhogs, also known as wood chucks, leave hibernation to eat their fill of grasses alongside the interstate or country lanes.
The average groundhog can move approximately 700 pounds of dirt When digging its burrow. Burrows can be up to 46 feet long and up to 5 feet underground. On my family farm, they liked to burrow beneath the corner of buildings. Especially the wooden-floored shed where saddles, bikes, and gardening equipment were stored or the corn crib.
|When snow covers the ground, the woodchucks |
hibernate below ground in their burrow.
One canny groundhog had an entrance at the front corner of the shed and another at the back. He would come up see if anyone was sitting on the porch, before popping back into his burrow and coming out at the back of the shed to munch on whatever caught his fancy. To discourage using our garden as a buffet, the kitchen garden was on the other side of house to put the structure between it and the groundhog. We had to walk around the entire house to get to the garden, but the would-be thief had to go even further.
I hope you enjoyed these memories.
~Until next month, stay safe and read. Helen
To purchase the Fire and Amulet: BWL
Helen Henderson lives in western Tennessee with her husband. While she doesn’t have any pets in residence at the moment, she often visits a husky who have adopted her as one the pack. Find out more about her and her novels on her BWL author page.