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Letters From Home (14) What We Believe

By: EarlB , 12:33 PM GMT on February 02, 2013

Dear Zoe,

It's so nice that you remember some of the silly little things I tell you.
All of my stories about Groundhog's Day must have made an impression
on you!

My friend in Virginia who has been keeping the groundhog watch tradition
alive wrote to me the other day saying that he was thinking of giving up this small
celebration he has enjoyed for almost 60 years. He grew up waiting to hear the
forecast from Octoraro Orphie (certainly not Punxatawny Phil!). When moved to
Virginia, he carried the ritual South with him where the tradition reemerged in the
form of Metompkin Max. You remember my telling you about that woodchuck!

The problem with rituals is that they fade away when no one practices them. A
ritual doesn't depend on fact, but on belief. Like Peter Pan's Tinkerbell, when you
don't believe, she doesn't exist. So few people are really interested in groundhogs

Who relates to a Candlemas shadow-watching ritual anymore? Most of us are
far from the farm, we have weather satellites, 24-hour weather forecasters, we
have names for storms. It's so different from when half-way between the solstice
and the equinox people depended on a fable to predict for the upcoming planting
season. Who looks to haloes around the sun and moon to help decide if you will
need an umbrella tomorrow? After all, most fables were based on long term facts
and observations. But now we're more sophisticated than to use a fable to guide us!

So, Zoe, pick your rituals carefully, not just any "groundhog" will do, but whichever
you choose, remember to believe, you don't want Tink to disappear!

Love, Uncle Roy


I just got a call from Metompkin, Virginia, at 7:06, Metompkin Max didn't see his
shadow. According to him, "Winter is over"! We'll see, won't we. My friend added,
"We're supposed to have snow tomorrow."

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Reader Comments

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6. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
11:10 AM GMT on February 17, 2013
EarlB has created a new entry.
5. EarlB
2:15 PM GMT on February 10, 2013

yeah, tell that to the folks in boston who are
shoveling out from under 2 feet of snow! ha ha

i bet that there are a lot of people who are
planning to have groundhog for supper (if they
have electricity!)!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. larrybliv
10:54 AM GMT on February 10, 2013
hey Earlb,
thanks for the weather prediction 2013. been waiting for this good news. naturally with the colder winter, the hogs are out in force. and we need folks like you to keep us informed so that we can plan our springtime activities.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. calpoppy
9:04 PM GMT on February 03, 2013
I will have to look up Candlemas, I have heard of it but never knew what it was. Those are all great groundhog names!!

I still wish upon the first star, some things just don't change when you get older.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. EarlB
1:29 PM GMT on February 02, 2013

well, this year the stars aligned (not that i think
that Phil is a star!) max, Phil and Octorara Orphie
all call for an early end to winter! (snow is still
in our forecast, though!)

I like that star counting in the halo...never heard
of it before. I once mentioned the halo thing (rain
within 24 hrs is how i learned it) to a younger
person, and she said "I don't believe that!".
Sort of a conversation stopper! Her daughter's
name is Zoe. A few years later, I met Zoe for the
first time (without her non-believing Mom, and
she was a delight, and believed in wishing on the
first star. I'm glad that skepticism isn't

Happy Candlemas y'all! (ha ha)

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. shoreacres
1:15 PM GMT on February 02, 2013
Now I'm happy! I just knew that Metompkin Max would fulfill his duties! Never mind that Phil - I know where to get my weather projections!

And who looks for halos to predict the rain? Me, for one. It's been even more dependable since I learned to count the stars inside the halo - that tells the number of days before the rain arrives!

Thanks for being so predictable!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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