It's an old German tradition. If the sun is shining sufficiently on the morning of Candlemas Day (February 2) for an animal to cast a shadow upon the ground, Spring is still six more weeks away. But if the sun is obscured by clouds on that mid-winter morning, Spring is just around the corner. The old Germans used badgers to be the harbingers of the arrival or tarrying of warmer weather and sun. I haven't been able to find any reliable records to determine just how accurate the badgers were.
During the 19th century, German people brought their families and many of their traditions to Pennsylvania. They found the native groundhog to be a better choice for weather prognosticating in their new home. The cuddly looking creatures have a mid-winter intermission from their hibernation, call it a hiatus from their hiatus, to take a peek around. So, if the groundhog is up anyway, you might as well let him do it. Besides, I don't have much experience with the creatures but it doesn't take a badger specialist to know that if you go out at 6:30 am on Candlemas, stick your hand down in a badger hole, grab one, and yank him out, and stick him up next to your face, he's going to have things on his mind besides looking for shadows and whispering his thoughts on the weather quietly in your ear. My guess is you won't celebrate trying it again the next year, that's for sure.
We've all heard about good ol' Punxsutawney Phil and his (less than stellar) record of predicting the weather in Pennsylvania. In Georgia, we don't tune into Pittsburgh for the weather, no even from Phil Connors. So we have our own groundhog. General Beauregard Lee lives in his Greek Revival mansion at the Yellow River Game Ranch and boasts a 94% accuracy rate. He slipped up in 1993 and 2014. We'll give him that.
Beau strolled out on his porch for a cup of coffee this morning, looked around at his adoring fans as if he wasn't expecting company but was magically ready with hospitality for all, just like any Southern Gentleman of such status. And then he announced an early Spring. To his credit, today's high at ABG World Headquarters was 70 degrees under a glorious sun that appeared after Beau had turned in for his afternoon nap. Tonight we're expecting some Spring-like storms. He's on the right track so far.
Before you know it, we'll be wearing seersucker and Panama hats. There will be horse races and The Master's. The dogwoods will bloom and the world will be green again. We are confident. Our hero, General Beauregard Lee has proclaimed the changing season. It's all warm weather and sunshine from here on. Well, either that or we'll be up to our knees in snow in the middle of March.
Let's think positive.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire