Saturday, February 2, 2013

Six Weeks (more or less)

This year's mailing.
Groundhog Day is perhaps my favorite holiday. Nothing is expected of me. I don't have to overspend on gifts no one needs, cook huge meals I shouldn't be eating anyways or spend time with people I'm not particularly fond of. I don't feel badly if I'm not currently in love, don't believe in the Easter Bunny or lack Irish blood running through my veins. All that's required of me is to celebrate a little magic in the form of a furry rodent and my longing for spring. I honor the occasion with artwork creating for family and friends, and this week I'd like to share some images from past mailings with you.

Pennsylvania Dutch settlers are said to have brought the tradition of Groundhog Day to the US in the 18th century. Originally, the groundhog was a dachs, an animal related to the European badger. The first "groundhog" story is traced back to an ancient Greek belief that an animal's shadow is its soul, which has been darkened by the past year's sins. So hibernation was a time of spiritual renewal. If the animal awoke and saw he still had a shadow appearing, it meant he had best hibernate a bit longer in order for his shadow to be expunged.

Of course everyone knows the most famous weather predictor is Punxsutawney Phil, and this morning he did not see his shadow. This means he is pure of heart and spirit and spring is not far off. (In actuality though, we will always have six more weeks of winter according to the calendar.) But lately I've been noticing the spring blush on the tips of the bushes and the lengthening of the afternoons. And the birds at the feeders are bickering. They too are restless for spring to arrive. 

For those of you who received my mailing and are stumped by the shadows, here are the answers: 1.Kiwi  2.Marten  3.Shrew  4.Prairie Dog  5.Warthog  6.Newt  7.Marmot  8.Star-nosed Mole  9.Wombat

Happy Groundhog Day to everyone!

If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain
Winter will not come again.


  1. I have to ask: How does one join this special club and get on the "mailing list"? And does the membership packet include a secret decoder ring? By the way, we have an abundance of groundhogs here in the mountains. They're my favorite critters! Have you created detailed room-by room paintings of one of their magical underground abodes? I think groundhogs probably have their own "Architectural Digest" magazine, and I would love to see who's on the cover this month.

  2. I will explain the mailing list in my next letter. I love the image of a groundhog abode, hmmmmmmmmmmm

  3. Kiwi!!!!! Well!
    I did not know the Greek belief connected to the day; I love that.
    The way I always look at Groundhog Day and its predictions is this:
    6 more weeks of winter weather might mean seals on the beaches, oh my!
    Early spring and a balmy season might mean whales in our waters, oh my!
    It's all good...

  4. We love marmots and of course Groundhog's day. Todd's home town is right next door to Punxsutawney. The groundhogs were the arch rivals of the DuBois Beavers. They Beavers derided the groundhogs as the 'chucks (as in woodchucks).