February 2, 2014, is widely known as Groundhog Day in the USA. That’s when groundhog and pseudo-meteorologist, Punxsutawney Phil, emerges from his burrow (or doesn’t) to predict if winter will last for another six weeks. Unfortunately for the folks on the East Coast, that is apparently the case this year. Tough break, guys.
But, the groundhog is a sorry seconds. That’s right. The original weather forecasting hogs weren’t groundhogs or even warthogs but hedgehogs. Romans used hedgehogs to predict winter’s length. Apparently, this tradition spread through Northern Europe and the German settlers in Pennsylvania, not having hedgehogs at their disposal, substituted the native groundhog instead.
Whether hedgehogs or groundhogs can accurately predict winter’s length is supposition at best, but I will say that hedgehogs are just a lot cuter. As a child in London, I imagined having a Beatrix Potter/Enid Blyton-esque garden one day, complete with a stream, river otters, foxes, rabbits, and hedgehogs as my companions. (I also believed in gnomes, and knew, with all certainty, that they would be residents in my beautiful landscape.) Well, an English country garden is hard to find in the Southwest, so here’s my attempt:
Hedgehogs may be cute, but they are badass when it comes to their hedges. They do hog them, after all.
Hedgehog or groundhog, it’s going to be a long(er) winter, so stay warm out there!