My next post will be the day after Ground Hog Day. I thought I would offer my 2 cents today. How excited are you about GH Day? Neither am I. Doesn’t it strike you a little odd that groundhogs have become meteorology mavens. The truth of the matter is February 2 is the half way mark between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Whether Punxsutawney Phil, Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, Nova Scotia’s Shubanacadie Sam, New York’s Staten Island Chuck, Georgia’s General Beauregard Lee, Toronto’s Dundas Donna or who ever your local rodent is, and whether or not he/she sees his/her shadow , spring is still 6 weeks away. Oh well, it’s all in fun anyway.
This groundhog business got me wondering about it’s origin.
Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful.
The first official Ground Hog Day celebration was Feb. 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, PA. It was the brain child of local newspaper editor, Clymer Freas, who sold a group of business men and hunters known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club on the idea
Nowadays, the yearly festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by a band of local dignitaries known as the Inner Circle. Its members wear top hats and conduct the official proceedings in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. They supposedly speak to the groundhog in Groundhogese. (Do you suppose Groundhogese is an accredited language one can study for university credit?)
If that isn’t enough, you might like to know groundhogs are sometimes called whistling pigs. Sleeping is the groundhog’s favorite activity. Groundhogs are vegetarians which gardners and farmers probably know all too well. Groundhogs are the Frank Lloyd Wrights of the rodent world. Their burrows consist of a number of rooms – an eating room, a sleeping room, a nursery and a waste room (bathroom). There you have it. A few groundhoggy facts you may never have wanted to know. Have a great end of January week.
Comments are welcomed.
In recent years the media has inundated us with articles, experts, studies with numerous ways to achieve and spread happiness. And, why not? Don’t we all want to be happy in our work,personal lives, within ourselves? Spreading happiness is part of increasing our own happiness and well-being. Dr. Amit Sood at the Mayo Clinic in his blog at resilientoption.com offers an unlikely thought of perspective on how to spread happiness.
“Do you know what is common between dark chocolate, surprises, gambling, winning in bingo, and meeting people who agree with us? Each of these experiences causes a surge in dopamine in our brain’s reward network. That surge in dopamine feels pleasing to us. Another activity that gets our reward system going is saying the word “I.” I do this, I do that, this is how I feel, I like this, I don’t like that, and so on. When we talk about ourselves, our reward network activates, and we feel happy. No wonder 40% of the speech and 80% of the social media content is people talking about themselves.
When you choose to mindfully listen to others’ concerns, even if you aren’t able to solve their concerns, you are helping them. This is because when they inform you, their brain’s pleasure center activates. In a research study, people even gave up monetary gain in favor of the joy of sharing information. A simple way to connect with others and make them happy is to sit back, relax, and enjoy them speak – about themselves. Try this particularly with folks who may have missed an engaged sympathetic ear for a long time. Listening to others with complete presence is such a simple way of spreading happiness. No wonder, we have two ears and one mouth!”
Weird Winter Words
Snow, cold, ice, blizzard, skating, polar vortex et al -are words that we automatically associate with winter. Yet, there are a number of winter words you, like me, likely never heard of. They are some pretty weird, obscure words I came across, I thought would be fun to share. Here goes.
Apricity: the warmth of the sun in winter. Apricity appears to have entered our language in 1623, when Henry Cockeram recorded (or possibly invented) it for his own dictionary. Apricity, obviously, never quite caught on, and will not be found in any modern dictionary aside from the Oxford English Dictionary.
Hiemal: of or relating to winter. If you are tired of describing things as wintry, you can instead say that they are hiemal, hibernal, winterish, or brumal.
Subnivean: situated or occurring under the snow. The simplest way to describe this word is to imagine a car in January or February after a big snow storm.
Another word dealing with snow, of similar origins, is niveous, which means “of or relating to snow: resembling snow (as in whiteness): snowy".
Psychrophilic: thriving at a relatively low temperature. Psychrophilic was not coined in order to describe someone who prefers that the temperature of your home or office be freezing; this adjective is generally used to refer to bacteria or similar organisms. An organism (or partner) that thrives in a low temperature is a psychrophile.
Skijoring: a winter sport in which a person wearing skis is drawn over snow or ice by a horse or vehicle. Skijoring sounds a bit like the ill-advised sport inebriated folks engage in, when they attach some skis or a sled to the back of a pick-up truck and drive until one of the participants meets with a tree. Such activities may indeed qualify as skijoring, but the sport is also a fairly old pastime in certain Northern European countries. “Skijoring is what they call it in Norway and it is the most popular outdoor sport in the land of the midnight sun.” The Oregon Daily Journal, February 6, 1904.”
Sitzmark: a depression left in the snow by a skier falling backward. There are actually a dearth of words which describe doing things poorly. In light of this, words such as sitzmark, which refers explicitly to the dent or hole left in the snow by a skier’s butt are worth a mention.
Piblokto: a condition among the Inuit that is characterized by attacks of disturbed behavior (as screaming and crying) and that occurs chiefly in winter. No one is entirely certain what causes piblokto (and some scholars in recent decades have expressed doubts that it actually exists at all), but it sure sounds like a nasty way to spend the winter.
It seems to me that many days of apricity would help mitigate some of the bleakness of winter. I so hope that the current brumal conditions have not caused any of you to suffer from piblokto. Don’t despair. Spring is only 66 days away.
Comments are welcomed.
Dinner At The Dentist
This is a story of events that smacks of the Twilight Zone. Before beginning, let me apologize for it’s length. The background and details are necessary to get the full picture of this uninvited adventure. Here’s what happened.
One of the many services of the Red Cross is providing transportation for people with a disability, physical limitation, and/or seniors. Being vision impaired, I have used this service for several years. With an upcoming 1:20 dentist appointment, I booked a ride. My pick up was to be between 12:45 and 1:00. Also critical to this story is that the day was going to be my first venture down 35 stairs in 3 months as I was recovering from a fracture. I was not yet cleared to come back up the stairs so I arranged for a non-emergency patient transport to pick me up at the dentist at 3:00 for the return home.
I easily and happily made it down the stairs at 12:45, sat just inside the door to wait for my ride. One o’clock came and went. I phoned Red Cross to check on my ride as it was closing in on my appointment time. The driver was on his way and should be here very shortly. I phoned the dentist to let them know I would be late. Not cool, but she would still see me. One thirty came and went. Phoned again and now the driver would be here in 5 minutes. I knew his location and no way would he be here in 5 minutes. I finally showed up at the dentist at 2:00. She took me right in.
The patient transport showed up at 2:15 (45 min. early). The exam wasn’t quite finished. They decided not to wait and were going to send another crew to be there for 3:00.
Here’s where things get bogged down and bizarre. I took up residence in the waiting room about 2:30. When 3:00 came and went I phoned the transport company. I was shocked to hear it would be another hour before they could get me. They blamed it on poor weather conditions. The roads were not great. Seems the drivers were even less great. Around 4:30 I was feeling rather peckish not having had anything to drink or eat since noon. I also phoned the company yet again and, guess what, the would be another 50 minutes. Déjà vu all over again.
The dentist office would be closing before long and it was also their Christmas celebration. I felt terrible that I might be holding up their exit. Their office is in a self-contained building which meant I had no place to go except out on the street.
I will spare you the unbelievable further details and cut to the chase . During the final hour of waiting, the dental staff went out and got me a sandwich and made me a wonderful cup of tea for which my blood sugar was most grateful. As 6:00 was approaching everyone in the building was ready to go out but insisted they were fine to wait with me. My dentist even plied me with chocolates. Gotta love it. The transport finally showed up and I arrived home at twenty minutes to 7:00.
There are two morals to this story.
One: There truly are far worse things to endure than sitting in a dentist office for over 4 hours waiting for a ride home. What else is there to do in a waiting room anyway? Have dinner, of course.
Two: Gratitude makes everything better. The kindness, caring, generosity and accommodation of everyone in the building was truly heart felt. (And a little chocolate never hurts.)
Comments are welcomed.