FURTHERMORE PROBABLY DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A SHADOW|
Today is February 2. Thatís Groundhog Day. And, of course, Furthermore, my overly sensitive Masonic pet raven, is sulking. (Remind me. Iíll tell you how he was raised some day.)
It took a while to get the reason for his fowl mood out of him. And, having done so, I asked myself again why it is I let myself get sucked in to this stuff. I mean, Mom only raised one dumb son and he lives in Omaha. So why canít I learn?
Anyway, I went a couple of rounds with the nine-headed hydra at the underground entrance to the great cavern before slipping in to see the old bird. I discovered, and this is just a sidelight, the sort of extra knowledge you pick up reading these Chronicles, the hydra is allergic to anything over one megaton in total nuclear yield. Itís true, but donít tell anyone.
But I digress.
Furthermore was pacing the top of the oaken cadaver table near the fireplace, which was blazing happily. On the table was a calendar for the month of February.
He was clearly unhappy.
"I see you are clearly unhappy." This was my opening gambit and I was pleased with it.
"Why groundhogs?!" was his irritated response. Why groundhogs, I ask you. Why do they get a day, all that good press and publicity?"
I pondered this philosophical question for a moment and the light began to dawn.
"Groundhogs, as opposed to what? Say,.oh,..ravens?"
"Absolutely! See how clear-thinking you can be when you try? Ravens! And weíd do a lot more than just predict the weather, I can tell you!"
"Without going where this line of thinking was going otherwise, I had to admit it was a good question. Why groundhogs?
So we looked it up. Weíre hell on research around here.
The bottomline is this: Weíve got it all wrong. Itís supposed to be hedgehogs, not groundhogs and you can blame it all on the Romans. Yup. Seems the Romans, between raids on other cultures, noticed that hedgehogs hibernated. Like it was a big deal. And get this: hedgehogs are nocturnal. Thatís right. They donít come out in the daylight. So this whole business about seeing their shadow involved the moon, not the sun. And from all of this the Romans developed the business about predicting the arrival of spring if the hedgehog saw its shadow in the middle of the night. Geez. No wonder their empire fell.
The Brits are next in line. They picked up the weather prediction line from the Roman invaders as part of their Festival of February celebrations. Bet that was a blast, you know? However, the Church disapproved of such goings
on and, in time, converted February 2 into the Christian festival of Candlemas. The Church had this thing figured out years ago. If you canít beat Ďem, join Ďem. Then beat Ďem.
You know where this is going. When folks began leaving Great Britain and heading to other places like the New World they brought along their old legends and customs. Only problem was this: We donít have hedgehogs in the United States. Bummer, right?
American pioneers, always innovative and sometimes none too bright, didnít let that stop them. They substituted the groundhog. Guess what? The groundhog is not nocturnal. Groundhogs sleep through the night. So we substituted the sun for the moon and, BAM!, Groundhog Day!
And as for Furthermoreís concern about ravens having a day, well, they just did. We called it Superbowl Sunday.
You can go back to sleep now.