As I write these words Groundhog Day is almost upon us. My blog statistics tell me that most of my readers are American so you might not know this, but we in Canada also celebrate Groundhog Day. However, rather than depending on the famous Punxsutawney Phil, we have our own groundhog prognosticator. His name-I’m not making this up-is Wiarton Willie. Wiarton is a small town in the Province of Ontario. The Province of Ontario is in Canada. If you look at a map, Canada is that big, frozen blob on top of the United States. We like it on top.
Of course, Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil aren’t the only Groundhog Day groundhogs. For example, New York City’s official groundhog is Pothole Pete. It’s true. Google it if you don’t believe me.
You don’t hear much about Pothole Pete and I have a theory about why that is. I haven’t confirmed this personally, but I have it on very good authority that our Willie is much bigger than their Peter. If ours looks smaller its’ only because it’s much colder up here so our Willie experiences some shrinkage. I think their Peter is embarrassed about being smaller, which is why he tends to stay out of the limelight.
We need our own groundhog because Punxsutawney Phil has nothing to tell Canadians about the seasons. Legend has it that if Phil pops out of his hole on February 2 and doesn’t see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. But if he sees his shadow he bounds back into his hole and there will be six more weeks of winter.
This doesn’t work for us. For most Canadians, with the exception of people living on the west coast, who enjoy a more temperate climate and earlier springs, if on February 2 we’re promised six more weeks of winter, we rejoice. That is an early spring.
Here’s how Groundhog Day works in Canada: In Wiarton, Willie thrusts his head up quickly and forcefully through his hole to break the ice covering it. He, like Phil, uses the seeing or not seeing of his shadow rule to make his prediction on the timing of spring, but because it is invariably well below the freezing point outside-bitterly so-he lunges back down into his warm hole just as quickly whether he sees his shadow or not. He then thrusts in and out of his hole repeatedly to 1) check that he is not imagining things and it really is that frigging cold, and 2) verify his prediction about the distant arrival of spring because you wouldn’t want to get something like that wrong. A lot of Canadians are counting on their Willie.
(As an aside, is it just my sick mind or is my blog going to be slapped with a “restricted” rating if I keep talking about our Willie thrusting in and out of a warm hole?)
If Wiarton Willie sees his shadow it does not mean that we are in for six more weeks of winter. Instead, it means that, were it not for the retractable roof on Toronto’s baseball stadium, the Blue Jays would be running the bases wearing down-filled parkas and snowshoes for the first few weeks of home games. That would slow the game down somewhat and baseball is a slow enough game as it is.
And that’s what Groundhog Day is all about here in Canada.
Categorised as: Canada