18

Groundhogs of the World Unite!

The opinions presented in this article are strictly those of the author. The do not reflect the position of The Cheeseland Times or its editorial staff. Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2.

Image result for group of groundhogs

Did you think that because they gave us a special day that the humans think we are special? You’re wrong.

Humans don’t exchange gifts on Groundhog Day. They don’t have cute cards for Groundhog Day. They don’t say “Happy Groundhog Day!” to each other. If you have been living underground, the entire point of Groundhog Day is to pull a member of several of our communities from their nice, warm beds to tell the humans how soon winter is going to end.

Image result for winter

They’ll tell you that the groundhog emerges from his burrow on February 2. Let me give you a clue humans. We go into true hibernation (low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate). We sleep from October until March or April in the northern places where you want to see us. We do not wake up on February 2 so we can tell you how much longer you will have to scrape off your car.

How on earth would we know when winter is going to end? Do they think the information comes from some otherworldly spirit with special knowledge? Do they think we inherit it with our other attributes? No. They think we can tell because seeing our shadow on the morning of February 2 has some special meaning.

They refer to it as “the groundhog seeing his shadow.” Listen up, humans. When you wake us up and pull us into the cold upper world, we don’t see anything. We are blinking, trying to wake up. The sun is in our eyes. The reason we look grumpy is because we are grumpy. You would be too if someone did it to you.

Image result for groundhog burrow in winter

The whole thing really irritates the female groundhogs. Do the humans think they always grab a male? No. They can tell the difference. They could change their stupid saying to “the groundhog seeing its shadow.” Get out of the 20th century humans.

They hold us up under the arms and show us off like some kind of prize. Do they think that’s comfortable? They’re lucky we’re not carnivores. We have to pose for pictures and video. Then they throw us back down our holes and expect us to go back to sleep. After they’ve woken up the entire family.

Image result for groundhog burrow in winter

We are more than furry shadow-makers. Let me give you a few facts about groundhogs.

We are part of the squirrel family. In fact, we are the largest member of the squirrel family. We are technically marmots. We are the big, friendly branch of the family. But not when we are woken from a deep slumber.

Image result for friendly groundhog

We mainly eat plants. Clover is especially yummy. We also eat alfalfa and dandelions. Occasionally a slug or a snail is a nice treat. Nuts offer variety. If you’ll notice, humans, you consider several of those things pests. Do you celebrate our contributions to containing those populations? No. You want to see our shadow. You know, you have shadows of your own.

Image result for group of groundhogs

As a proud member of the groundhog community, I’ll tell them when winter is going to end. Winter ends on the vernal equinox. That’s when there are as many hours of sunlight as there are dark because the sun is directly over the equator. This year that is on March 20th.

In the meantime: leave us alone!

Image result for angry groundhog

Gregory Groundhog

You may reach me at gghog@info.ghog or follow me on Twitter @gghog

 

(All pictures courtesy of Google Images)

 

2

At Sixes and Sevens

I love this phrase because it’s just obscure enough that people think they should know what it means. (To be in a state of confusion or disarray.)

This post was intended to be about things that give me pause, but while checking on the phrase’s origin, I found some things to add to the list.

I had thought that the expression referred to numbers in a game of chance that were the riskiest and therefore led the gambler to some confusion about whether or not to make the bet.

That is true, but the better story comes from the possible second origin. I am still slightly at sixes and sevens about the whole thing.

England has something called an order of precedence for their livery companies. A livery company is a trade association and does not have anything to do with horses (which confused me very much the first time I read through the description of the dispute.)

The livery of Merchant Taylors (tailors) and the livery of Skinners were both chartered in 1327. They became the sixth and seventh trade associations in England. There is no surviving record of which was chartered first, but they started fighting about it almost immediately. Wouldn’t they have had to be chartered at the same place? Did someone bribe the clerk to change a date? The English were pretty fussy about their hierarchies.

It got so bad that in 1484 the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Billesden, decided that at the Feast of Corpus Christi (how many know when that is?) the associations would swap places and feast in each other’s halls. It seems to be that skinners and tailors would attract a completely different type of crowd. Perhaps leg of boar one year and pheasant the next? Whiskey and mead? I love the mayor’s title.

The associations still swap places every year. They are still known as liveries. Both are part of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies (the top 12 in the listing). Sadly, the armor makers did not make the cut. English hierarchy remains alive and well in 21st century Britain.

One last note: the liveries maintain the word “worshipful” in their title (e.g., Worshipful Company of Fishmongers – #4). It’s not clear who they were worshipping, God or King. I think it was basically the same at the time. I would guess neither today. We just don’t have that kind of tradition here in the U.S.

Why do medieval English feasts always make me think of a bunch of people sitting around in the semi-dark eating greasy joints of some animal? Somebody there had to be eating the rest of it.

Moving on:

Was there anyone else whose first reaction to last week’s mega-storm on the east coast was to make sure it wasn’t going to hit them before it got to its destination? And be happy that it was going somewhere else?

Do politicians running for President get as tired of listening to themselves as the rest of us do? I think it should be like Family Feud: two candidates go head to head to see who can guess what Americans really want. Then they’ll know what they should promise (well aware that they won’t be able to do it.)

Why would someone come into a mega-store and ask whether we carry Amazon Fire Sticks? Do they not understand the concept behind Amazon?

Also unclear on the concept: the lady who returned her slow cooker saying that it cooked too slowly. (Yes, it did work correctly.)

If an airline can claim that they have arrived on-time even though they have to sit in queue for an hour and a half, why doesn’t that principle apply for arriving for the meeting they scheduled around your flight?

It’s ironic that they originally built Washington, D.C. on a swamp. I think some of the original residents may still be wandering the government halls.

I did not realize that there are Lego sets now that need to be locked down because they cost more than $100.

I think I need to buy one of the tablets they make for toddlers. They look totally indestructible.

How many kids appreciate (or can even see) the color gradations in a 156-color box of Crayons?

Why can you buy (really) inferior brands of chocolate at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter that are not available the rest of the year? Is it just a sideline for a wax company?

Is your beloved cheap, broke, or chocolate-blind if he/she buys you one of those atrocities? Is it worse to be cheap or chocolate-blind?

Why can’t I find any cards to send for Groundhog Day?

Aside
2

Recently I was reading an article on Consumerist (Consumerist.com) where they were talking about national food holidays. They had found a calendar that shows every food holiday of the year on Food.com. For some reason, they were significantly less enthusiastic about the idea than I was.

I checked it out. It is totally amazing. Not only does it have a month-by-month listing of the food holidays, but it gives recipes for the day.

Obviously, if you want to us it to plan your meals around it you will need to check out the necessary ingredients a few days in advance. But that’s not a problem since you can get the recipes for any day by clicking on that day. Just imagine – a holiday every day. Probably can’t get the day off work for them though.

There were only two disappointments on the calendar. I missed National Cheese Day (June 4) and will have to wait almost a year to use it as a holiday.

Second, I could not find a day for many of the delicacies I have suggested you make for important dates. For example, I could not find a National Scorpion Day. So you are still on your own for making scorpion suckers at home. I would suggest they add it, but it looks like the calendar is pretty full. Maybe I just missed it.

Interestingly enough, today is Kitchen Klutzes of America Day. Which you might note is not a food. It features super simple recipes like versions of cocktail meatballs and tomato sauce. It seems to me that if you’re that bad in the kitchen, you would probably buy that type of thing at the store. Or do without. Your friends could probably survive with caviar on crackers.

Speaking of Caviar Day, it is July 18. That seems like kind of an interesting day for it. Don’t people generally serve that inside? Perhaps rich people don’t go out in the really hot weather. They recommend a caviar torte. “Served at my wedding and it was the biggest hit.” Guess that explains that.

Not a big fan of caviar? Maybe July 21 is more your style. That’s Junk Food Day. You can splurge on things like Potato Chip Sandwiches, Snickers Dip, and Cheez-It Chicken Fingers. Why would I make junk food? Isn’t that what Taco Bell and Dairy Queen are for?

The ickiest thing I could find was August 8. That’s Zucchini Day. I hate zucchinis. They are not squash. I do not care what anyone says. They are tasteless, mushy cucumber wanna-bes. Then they try to disguise it in things like Zucchini Chocolate-Orange Cake and Zucchini Nut Muffins. They may taste good, but beware. There are little pieces of green stuff in your desserts.

There were a few that were a little confusing (or downright misleading). Hot Cross Bun Day is on September 11. In my church, we eat them during Lent. Last time I looked, Lent has never occurred in September. Drink Beer Day (September 28) has a list of foods made with beer. How do you drink it if you have cooked it into something? Groundhog Day (February 2) does not have recipes for cooking ground hogs (thank goodness) but is full of desserts that look like various animals that are believed to predict weather.

In case you don’t like to micro-manage your dinners, they also show what foods are celebrated in which months. This month you can celebrate with Fresh Fruits and Vegetable, Turkey Lovers, Soul Food, Candy, and Iced Tea. Which sounds a lot better than March. March is Nutrition Month as well as Noodle Month and Celery Month. Thirty-one days of celery recipes. Yum.

Still looking for the perfect meal for Father’s Day? You’re in luck. It’s Lobster Day (the calendar was apparently put together by a bunch of fathers). In addition to the standard lobster tails or lobster curry, I would recommend a lobster salad cocktail. If you don’t cook, you could probably buy some lobster salad and put it in cocktail glasses. Or you could grill a steak with a side of lobster potato salad. A new spin on surf-and-turf.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning my menu for October 9. That’s Moldy Cheese Day. Unfortunately it does not refer to the cheddar in the back of my refrigerator. It is a celebration of Bleu Cheese, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort. Smelly cheese from all over Europe. Since I missed National Cheese Day, I can’t afford to mess this one up.

(My 100th post. Thanks for reading.)