Please read this...Have a happy and joyous Wuchak Day

<p class="p1">In keeping with the spirit of a joyous season, I want to be the first to wish you a Very Merry and Joyous Groundhog Day.</p><p class="p1">The big celebration is set for Tuesday, February 2, which, oddly, is the day after those caucus things which are scheduled in the Great State of Iowa, home of many rows of corn. I cannot tell you if there is a connection between Groundhog Day and the Iowa caucuses.</p><p class="p1">If you are like me, and I hope you are not, you have probably grown tired of the endless number of Groundhog Day commercials on television. They almost make you forget the true spirit of this special holiday devoted entirely to a chubby fur ball which has been known to show up in The Other Half's garden, where it likes to consume nearly all of her sweet potatoes.</p><p class="p1">On Groundhog Day, the fur ball we celebrate supposedly crawls out of a hole in the ground in Pennsylvania and looks around for news people and other crazy folks who don't have anything better to do on a cold winter's day. If the groundhog sees its shadow, it will crawl back into its hole and winter will continue for another six weeks. </p><p class="p1">Knowing that the holiday was fast approaching, and, also knowing that I don't know much about this special holiday, I decided to do some research on the Internet about groundhogs and Groundhog Day. Since I found this stuff online, you know what I am sharing must be true, especially the information which showed up on Wikipedia, which, at least if I understood what I was reading, which was not very likely, notes that the February 2 holiday is called Jour de la Marmotte in French Canadian and Grundsaudaag or Murmeltiertag in Pennsylvania Dutch. Who am I to question such things?</p><p class="p1">Groundhog Day, it seems, has been celebrated since 1887 in the United States. That was long before the Internet. And television. I don't know how anything could have been celebrated without the presence of the Internet and television.</p><p class="p1">My intense, 48 seconds of research also took me to an article headlined "7 Things You Didn't Know About Groundhogs," which was posted by Scientific American. Hmmm. Scientific AND American. It has to be good with those qualifications.</p><p class="p1">I learned, among other things, that groundhogs "are also variously referred to as woodchucks, whistle-pigs or land-beavers." "The name whistle-pig comes from the fact that, when alarmed, a groundhog will emit a high-pitched whistle as a warning to the rest of his or her colony." I did not know that. I have never heard a groundhog whistle a happy tune. Or any other tune, for that matter.</p><p class="p1">It also turns out that the "name woodchuck has nothing to do with wood. Or chucking. It is derived from the Algonquian name for the critter: wuchak." This led me to wonder if the Algonquians ever sat around a campfire and tried to determine if a wuchak could wuchak wood, how much wood could a wuchak wuchak?</p><p class="p1">I also learned that "both male and female groundhogs tend to occupy the same territories year after year," that baby groundhogs (called weewuchaks*) only hang around home for a couple of months after they are born, that groundhogs can climb trees and that "groundhogs greet each other with an odd variation of the eskimo kiss: one groundhog approaches and touches his or her nose to the mouth of the second groundhog."</p><p class="p1">Not only did I learn seven things about groundhogs, I also learned that, if one is so inclined, that one could actually have groundhog for one's traditional Groundhog Day feast. </p><p class="p1">I actually learned that there are recipes for woodchuck patties (wuchakburgers?), woodchuck stew, fried woodchuck, woodchuck patties in tomato sauce, woodchuck pie and woodchuck fricassee. Furthermore, woodchuck/whistle-pig/groundhog meat supposedly is dark, but mild flavored and tender. It tastes like chicken.**</p><p class="p1">I ran out of time (actually, I got bored) before I could determine if there are any Groundhog Day carols we can sing next Tuesday. You know, something like "God Rest Ye Merry Groundhogs," or "Hark, the Herald Groundhogs Sing." Maybe I'll work on that. Right after I put up my Groundhog Day tree.</p><p class="p1">(*I made that up.)</p><p class="p1">(**I made that up, too.)</p>

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