Posts Tagged ‘Weather Channel’

Happy Badger/Groundhog/Hedgehog Day!

 

Several men dressed like Abe Lincoln will gather on a knoll tomorrow morning, proclamation in hand, and will proceed to yank a fat squirrel out of its heated den. Crowds who have gathered on this cold cold February morning will wait with bated or alcoholic breath, whichever comes first. Will Phil see his shadow?  We must know.

Another Groundhog Day, another prediction. Will we have another six weeks of winter or will spring be right around the corner?  According to Wikipedia, ” if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks”.   The Weather Channel is already telling us we are going to have six weeks of winter. So, why all the brouhaha over a sleepy chubby squirrel?

Ok, a groundhog is not a fat squirrel. I apologize. A groundhog is a member of the squirrel family, but much larger than the ones I see eating out of the bird feeder.  Putting that aside, I’d still like to know how  the people in a small Pennsylvania town decided years ago they have a weather prognostigator?

“Hey, look at that groundhog! I can see his shadow. Do you think that means something?” I mean, how did this weird ritual start?

And it is weird. Think about it. People drive from miles around to gather in the cold to watch the town leaders grab a sleeping groundhog from its luxury living quarters, hold it up, and then proclaim to the masses if there will be six more weeks of winter. The crowd will clap and yell “hoorah” or moan and go home…or back to the bar. When did we start believing a groundhog? Why not a raccoon? They are smart enough to take the lid off of a garbage can. Surely they too, can predict the weather?

Ok, I know we don’t really believe a groundhog, but how did the people of Pennsylvania believe in it enough over the years to create such a tribute to weather forecasting? I just had to know.

I have written several times about the little varmint  Ground Beaver Day   Groundhog Day  Groundhog Day and a Haiku or Two in the past, but really never took a look at how this event started. I actually have this on my bucket list. Sure, why not drive up there one year just to say I did it?

Well, it looks like Groundhog day  began as a German custom in the 18th century in this country. When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a custom known as Candlemas Day.  Supposedly, a custom in ancient European weather lore used a badger or a hedgehog as the prognosticator.  Seeing  there aren’t too many badgers or hedgehogs in Pennsylvania, I guess the groundhog was the next best thing. It has been celebrated in Punxsutawney since 1886 or so. In Europe, it was the tradition on Candlemas Day for the church official to bless candles and hand them out to the people in the middle point of winter.It also has something to do with Mary and Jesus, but I didn’t want to go in that direction, so I ignored the religious meanings of the day. So, If the sun came out February 2, the mid point of the season, it meant six more weeks of winter. Tomorrow will be Punxsutawney Phil’s 127th prognostication.

Shouldn’t he be dead?

So, when you turn on the Weather Channel in the morning, you will undoubtedly witness the faux Abe Lincolns pulling a fat squirrel out of a den on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It’s a big deal. And maybe the ground hog will be alive, celebrating its 127th year of forecasting or maybe he is an imposter for the real Phil, who no longer sees his shadow. Regardless, it is a tradition in our country that is here to stay. In fact, there are many “Phil’s” in different parts of the country. Afterall, the weather in Florida is different than Pennsylvania. It is known as “The Sunshine State.” Of course Phil would see his shadow down there. And that surely wouldn’t mean six more weeks of winter in Florida. That means, “Hey, I saw my shadow because I am in freaking sunny Florida.”

Here are some of the other “Phil’s” that will be called upon this February 2:

French Creek Freddie – My home state of West Virginia.

 A pissed off French Creek Freddie

North Carolina has five prognosticating groundhogs- Grady, Nibbles, Queen Charlotte, Sir Walter Wally, and Mortimer. ( I fancy the Sir Walter Wally moniker)

Tennessee- Chattanooga Chuck

Georgia- General Beauregard Lee

Canada- Wiarton Willy

New York- Staten Island Chuck

Ohio- Buckeye Chuck

I could go on and on. There are many famous fat squirrels that will be pulled out of their dens tomorrow.

Happy Groundhog Day! (Whatever the hell that means)

Lightning Strikes Cows..and a Big Toe

I think most people enjoy watching a thunderstorm. I know a few who are afraid of the lightning.  I love watching them. Especially at the beach. I mean, I hate it when it rains when you are on vacation, but watching heat lightning over the ocean illuminates the night sky and it is just beautiful.

We built our house on a hill on a spot where an old dairy farm stood. The guy we bought the property from told my husband that the old dead tree on the property had been struck by lightning, and a couple of cows were killed by a lightning bolt, right where the house stood. Well, isn’t that lovely? I loved being out in the country, but when storms came through, it became ugly and menacing, yet beautiful at the same time. Well, not for the cows, I imagine. I think my kitchen is right over the spot where they were struck. Or maybe not.

One storm in particular scared me to death. We had a front porch that went along the front and then turned to join our side patio. We had a pavillion/gazebo on the back side. When we built the pavillion, we had it equipped with tv cable, electric and stereo speakers. Right beside it we had a water fountain, which I loved when the kids were young. We were wired for sure.

One  evening, a storm was brewing and I was watching the Weather Channel, as usual, because I am a weather dork. I love the weather and love watching a storm approach. I know all the names of the weather channel people. I’m sure that impresses so many people. It’s not like I say “Hey, guys, guess what? I know the names of all the meteorologists on the Weather Channel.”  Not a good way to win friends… or keep them for that matter.

My husband was watching tv in the family room, sitting reclined in a wing back chair. I decided to go outside on the front porch and watch the storm coming. The front came through with powerful wind, and then the rain began. I wasn’t getting wet because our porch was a tad bit wide, but I stood by the front door because I was a little scared, to be honest. The lightning bolts splintered off in many directions and the thunder was right above us. My outside cats jumped into the box I made into a cat house for them under a bench by the door. I was watching the water on the pond down in front of our house, and the cars coming around the corner, heading home before a tree came crashing down on their car. Well, we have a lot of trees on our road.

The storm was getting worse, and I was just thinking I better get indoors, when all of a sudden I heard a huge, unbelievably loud crack, and this rush of light seemed to wrap around from the back of the porch right to me. Oh my God, was I just struck by lightning? My hair stood up on my arms and my head felt weird. I ran in the house, intent on telling my husband that I think I was sort of struck by lightning, when I ran into him coming out to tell me the same thing.

My husband was struck by lightning. Well, his big toe was anyways. His big toe, you ask? Yep. It appears that lightning had struck the ground right by our gazebo and the lightning traveled with the wires under the ground and into the house, through the stereo speakers in our family room and out of the speaker and the first thing near that was his big toe, with the rest of him reclined.

He met me as I flung opened the front door. We both said at the same time, “I think I was just struck by lightning.”  As we were standing in the foyer, I happened to glance into our library and noticed that the desktop computer was looking pretty green. Oh Uh…The lightning had taken out our computer.

Well, lightning took out a lot of things that evening, besides zapping my husband’s big toe and enveloping me on the front porch like  the smoke monster on LOST, except in white light. The storm destroyed our stereo and speakers, our phones, our tv in the family room and the speakers out under the gazebo. The green screen computer survived, but didn’t didn’t last too long afterwards. Our doorbell sounded like something you would hear on the Adams Family show or maybe that dong sound on Law and Order.

I had been through storms before out on that property. There was another time when I was standing by the kitchen window looking out and lightning exploded in our backyard, and I swore that flash of lightning got me. I bet that’s where the cows were electrocuted.

I remember the first time I watched a movie where someone was struck by lightning. The Bad Seed was one of my all time favorite movies. The lead character, Rhoda, was a child who killed people who got in her way, and she was struck by lightning at the end of the movie. She had on a yellow slicker, and plastic boots, so I now associate yellow slickers with lightning…and death…. I don’t wear yellow slickers.

I think people should really heed the “if you hear thunder, get the hell inside.”

Because lightning is truly right around the corner. Trust me.

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