The 2nd February each year is marked in my calendar as Groundhog Day. It is an American tradition made famous by the film of the same name and putting the small town of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania firmly on the map. The 2nd February also marks the mid point between winter and spring solstice and for those who observe the old tradition of Candlemas it is the last day to take down your Christmas decorations.
Tradition has it that when the Groundhog, Phil, emerges from his burrow (in reality pulled out of little wooden hutch) whether he sees a shadow, or not, predicts if there will be six more weeks of winter, or an early spring. He's been doing this since 1887 and has seen his shadow 102 times as opposed to not seeing it just 17 times. Professional weather people say that Phil has had an accuracy of 80% over the years.
This morning I stepped out of the house to a crisp day, bathed in sunshine under a bright blue sky. Though only just above freezing there was not a breath of wind, and as I reluctantly headed in the direction of my dentist for a filling, I was cheered up by the feeling of warmth from the sun on the side of my face. They say that the 2nd of February also marks the time that we should start to feel the suns warmth again. As I walked through my local park I noticed that the snowdrops were starting to emerge.
Inspired, once home, I took out the garden shears and attacked some of the overgrowth in the garden from last year before it's too late. The Robin was in the Birch tree next to me, keeping me company with his little song. I suspect there is another Robin close by as his song was never ending. As I finished I chipped away the frozen surface of the bird bath so he might take a drink later. Though cold the garden and it's wildlife have not yet seen any significant falls of snow.
America's east coast has been hit by large falls of snow, and I was kind of hoping we would be on the receiving end of a good dump of the fun white stuff too. Here in Edinburgh though we are protected by a range of hills all around us and the mild waters of the Forth lapping at our shore, so usually we stay snow-free, more's the pity. In the Highlands though, it is a different story, with large accumulations, more to the west. Weather permitting Pauline will be heading off with her new toys, a pair of funky snow shoes, into the mountains this weekend. Sadly I can't join her as every Saturday is taken up with teaching film at the academy, but hopefully sometime soon I'll be back out there.
What of the chance of seeing more snow then? What was Phils prediction for 2015?
In Punxsutawney, PA, Phil, the Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, emerged from his burrow at 7.25am, and in Grounhogese he whispered in the ear of those around him. . . he had indeed seen his shadow.
Six more weeks of winter! Hooray!