Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Monday, February 2, 2009

Whistlepig Day, 2009

At the gym today, which is where I get most of my TV watching done, I saw the images of fat groundhogs being hefted aloft, and I thought to myself that it's no wonder they see a shadow.  File:Closeup groundhog.jpg
From Wikipedia:

The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as the woodchuck, land beaver or whistlepig, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the woodchuck is a lowland creature. It is widely distributed in North America and common in the northeastern and central United States. Groundhogs are found as far north as Alaska, with their habitat extending southeast toAlabama.[2]

Wonderful to think of this critter as a whistle pig

Also according to Wikipedia, under the heading of Human Relevance:

In the United States and Canada, the yearly Groundhog Day celebration has given the groundhog recognition and popularity, as has the movie of the same name. The most popularly-known of these groundhogs is Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog kept as part of Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

The etymology of the name woodchuck is unrelated to wood or chucking. It stems from an Algonquian name for the animal (possiblyNarragansett), wuchak. The apparent relationship between the two words has led to the common tongue twister: "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? — A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood". Various response lines can answer this, including:

  1. "As much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood."[9]
  2. "As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood."
  3. "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood."[10]
  4. "A woodchuck would chuck all the wood, if a woodchuck only could."[11]
  5. "A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood."
  6. "42 pounds"

Groundhogs are sometimes eaten for food.[12]

So, it sounds as if we've a little more winter ahead of us. It's been a strange one indeed: so much snow when normally we barely have any.  And today it was in the mid-50's.  

A little groudhog poetry, if I can find any.  BRB.

The Groundhog
Eberhart, Richard (1904-)

In June, amid the golden fields, 
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he;  my senses shook,
and mind outshot our naked frailty. 
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change, 
And made my senses waver dim 
Seeing nature ferocious in him. 
Inspecting close his maggots' might 
And seething cauldron of his being, 
Half with loathing, half with a strange love, 
I poked him with an angry stick. 
The fever arose, became a flame 
And Vigour circumscribed the skies, 
Immense energy in the sun, 
And through my frame a sunless trembling. 
My stick had done nor good nor harm. 
Then stood I silent in the day 
Watching the object, as before; 
And kept my reverence for knowledge 
Trying for control, to be still, 
To quell the passion of the blood; 
Until I had bent down on my knees 
Praying for joy in the sight of decay. 
And so I left;  and I returned 
In Autumn strict of eye, to see 
The sap gone out of the groundhog, 
But the bony sodden hulk remained. 
But the year had lost its meaning, 
And in intellectual chains 
I lost both love and loathing, 
Mured up in the wall of wisdom. 
Another summer took the fields again 
Massive and burning, full of life, 
But when I chanced upon the spot 
There was only a little hair left, 
And bones bleaching in the sunlight 
Beautiful as architecture; 
I watched them like a geometer, 
And cut a walking stick from a brich. 
It has been three years, now. 
There is no sign of the groundhog. 
I stood there in the whirling summer, 
My hand capped a withered heart, 
And thought of China and of Greece, 
Of Alexander in his tent; 
Of Montaigne in his tower, 
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.

Immortal Poems of the English Language (Williams)

And with that, I'm off to bed.

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