It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Happy Groundhog Day!

wiartonSo, let me get this straight… The groundhog pops his head out of his burrow, and if he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter? Or is that if he doesn’t see his shadow? I can never remember.

Probably because it’s a moot point. Six weeks from February 2 is March 17. This is Ottawa. Will it be winter or spring on March seventeenth?


Who even needs to ask?

So. If he sees (or doesn’t see) his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter. And what if he doesn’t see his shadow? Obviously, I am woefully lacking my cultural folk knowledge. Woefully.

Thankfully the Internet — Wikipedia in specific — Knows All. Here’s the straight dope on the prognosticating rodent:

Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada on which if a groundhog emerges from its burrow and fails to see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end. If on the other hand, it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.


If he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter, and if he doesn’t see it, winter will end SOONER???

Well. No wonder I can’t keep it straight. The year that spring arrives to Ottawa before March 17 is the year I will be dancing in the streets, celebrating this unexpected upside to global warming.

Sooner than six weeks.

Pfft, I say, again.

I have my own personal First Day of Spring. I actually write it on the calendar. My first day of spring is April 15, because by April 15 I know that the snow will be gone, finally, finally gone, and that there will be no further freak snowfalls until at least October. There are currently 72 days until spring here in Ottawa, folks. Seventy-two days before we can breathe a sigh of relief, put the damned snow shovels in the shed and pack the salt away for another year. Before we can truly enoy the sunshine and start planning the gardens.

You think that’s late? (Not you, Tammy. I know you’re laughing down your fur-trimmed sleeve at the softie southerner whining about her April springtime.) But for those of you south of sixty, who think April 15 is a tad late to rely on spring? You think I’m exaggerating?

I wish.

My own personal first day of spring used to be April 10. Until that year we had 10 cm of snow on the 12th. So there.

SO. Happy Groundhog Day everyone, the most pointless date on the Canadian calendar.

February 2, 2009 Posted by | Canada, commemoration, Ottawa | , , , , , | 9 Comments