Groundhog Day, Alaska Style

By , February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is the only weather-related “holiday” on the calendar. Considering our lifestyle, you’d think that would make it the high holy day of our year.

True, my family used to make a pretty big deal about it when I was a child. I don’t know why—probably because it had so much potential for harmless silliness. I know that, for me, it was something to look forward to after Christmas (totally unaware that Candlemas, February 2, used to mark the end of the Christmas holidays) that was not fraught with awkwardness and uncertainty. Like, say, Valentine’s Day.

I’ve spoken before about the Alaskan disconnect from Groundhog Day. I’ve read that the whole groundhog vs. shadow scenario comes from farmers fearing a warm February, which might lead to early crop growth before the winter weather had truly subsided.

In our part of the world, a sunny February day does not presage spring; rather, it means cold weather. In fact, February often brings us the coldest weather of the year. To my knowledge there has never been any fear that an Alaskan February might be too warm.

In addition to that, our groundhogs, the hoary marmots, are still denned up and likely to remain so for a while.

Even so, I can’t help feeling a touch of anticipation, waiting to hear what Punxatawny Phil will prognosticate. After all, his “prediction” is as valid as anyone else’s as to what the future holds, weatherwise. And what the heck—couldn’t we all use a little bit of harmless silliness right about now?

6 Responses to “Groundhog Day, Alaska Style”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Just a thought from the Metis cousins

    Groundhog is the symbol of opening fully to the dreamtime.
    Of exploring altered states of consciousness more deeply and fully.

    Groundhog also teaches us to stay centered in ourselves, grounded in our body and connected to the earth even as we soul travel through other dimensions, exploring the wonders of dreamtime.

    Have a good day – pretty slow here on the place this morn

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Heh. An’ I thought it was only jest a whistle-pig!

    Lynn, I had to search for this nation. Is the name pronounced like “Matie?” We get National Native News every weekday on our radio station, so we hear a lot of news that might be about the Metis, but I’d never seen it spelled out.

  3. Linn Hartman says:

    These words of wisdom come from the “Ontario Metis Family Records Center” or OMFRC. Technically I qualify as Metis on my French-Canadian side. I’ll find out in a few weeks if I am officially granted status. In early January the federal court in Ottawa finally recognized Metis as an aboriginal group along with first nation and inuit people. No one really knows right now what this really means, but for folks living in the provinces this could have some good benifits. For me it verifies what I know and an ego thing I guess. Kind a like sailing on the Endeavour – been there done that. I pronounce it like “Matie” ending with an “s”. If you ever have a sip of Hiram-Walker whiskey Walker bought the old Labadie farm for his distillery. Their headquaters are still on the property. Old grandpa Antoine was married 3 times – French – Indian – English. He had at least 23 kids in all officially maybe more unofficially. The kids of the English wife sold the farm to Walker, but did not share with their French or Indian half siblings. My luck!- Better sign off – I have rambled on plenty – have a good day!

  4. Marcy says:

    Metis, interesting Linn. I did all the hoops to become a member of the Labrador Metis Nation through my mother’s heritage (surname of Patey). They changed the qualifications a few years back and I haven’t gotten around to reapplying.

  5. Mark Zeiger says:

    The reason my ears perk up when I hear news of the Metis is precisely because of their shifting “status,” as defined by governments that are comprised primarily of white men. I always think of what I read, in Derrick Jensen’s Listening to the Land: Conversations About Nature, Culture and Eros. One of the many brilliant interviewees in this book discusses the myriad faces of genocide. He made the observation that originally, members of each Native nation were those the nation accepted as members, whereas now it’s all legally defined as specific percentages of blood. That, according to the interviewee (it’s been a few years since I read it, I wish I could honor him by remembering who said this) guarantees that eventually, no one will “qualify” as having the proper amount of blood to be considered a member of a specific Native American nation. Thus guaranteeing that, “legally,” those nations will eventually cease to exist.

    This is why the ongoing question of whether or not descendants of slaves owned by the Cherokee should be considered members of the Cherokee nation distresses me so much. If Jensen’s interviewee is correct (and I believe he is) the Cherokee nation is playing into the hands of the government and sealing their own fate.

  6. Linn Hartman says:

    Mark and Marcy you are correct about the shifting status. That is why I said it is not real sure right now what all this really means. From what I can read, back in the 80’s the government tried to include the Metis with the First Nation people. This would have diluted the First Nation people and they would eventually lost their identity. This in turn would have relieved the government of certain treaty obligations. Some folks smarter than the average bear saw through this and the idea was eventually dropped. I think this time the Metis are looked as a specific group. What benefits a Canadian national with Metis status will actually receive is probably up in the air. I think to qualify for First Nation status and be on the rolls you have to be 1/4 blood or greater. As the urban reserves grow I would think that is going to be hard to maintain. As for me it is just something I would like to get as my wife is of her Cherokee heritage. Will see. Have a good day

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