Here in the States February 2 is Groundhog Day. According to custom, if a groundhog peeks out of his home on the 2nd and sees his shadow, there will be six more LONG weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, then there will be an early spring. As you can see, it's still pretty cold in my neck of the woods.
I work in Lansing, the Capital City of Michigan, and approximately 1.5 miles from the beautiful State Capitol. Lansing is a great city, but well . . . we're kind of provincial. In the sticks. In the middle of a bunch of cornfields. And that means we have some great wildlife within the city environs.
Now, if you've stopped here from time to time, you may have seen deer pictures. These are taken over on the east side of town. Closer to where I work, in fact right in the vacant lot next door, we have a different kind of wildlife. We have woodchucks, which are in the same family as groundhogs. (Some would say they're the same critter. We can debate that in the comments.)
In the spring, summer and fall we have fun spotting the animals gathering weeds and chasing each other around. (The printer is located in the room that has windows looking out on that field. Really. We're working, not goofing off. Really.) There were three at last count. There are at least two large entrances to their burrows. One is right outside the shop window, the other is farther out in the field. The woodchuck families appeared to go into hibernation sometime before Thanksgiving. In November.
We had a heavy snow over a week ago, which hasn't melted. I've been keeping an eye on the woodchuck burrow, and imagine my surprise this morning when I looked out and saw what looked like an indentation in the burrow and tracks around it. Could it be? Do the groundhogs, other than Punxsutawney Phil, celebrate this day? I had to explore, of course.
We were very busy this morning as one of our staff was sick and two were at a conference, but things calmed down in the afternoon. At 3:00 p.m. I put on my boots and went out tromping in the snow.
As I neared the burrow I could see the hole that had been opened in the woodchuck home. There were many tracks around it. I became a little anxious. Would a cranky, sleepy woodchuck jump out at me?
I'm a real sissy girl sometimes, and I began to envision a snarling, bug-eyed, rabid groundhog chasing me back to the door. Bud, one of our salesmen, was watching. "Maybe it's a Wolverine," he hollered. Well, that got my back up. As we all know, I'm a true-green Spartan, and I'd never let a little old wolverine intimidate me! I plunged ahead.
My fears were all for naught though. As I approached the hole, I could see a gentle little creature standing near it, with a jaunty cap atop his head. It was our own Lansing Larry, and he decidedly DID NOT SEE his shadow! So winter, begone!
Lansing Larry looked a little worse for wear, and his teeth were chattering from the cold. Because he had done such a fine job of weather forecasting, we brought him inside and let him play under Dee's plant. He brought great joy and happiness to us on this, Groundhogs Day 2005.