On January 27, 2009, I was in the process of posting my latest blog, titled BEING IT, on various websites when I lost my electricity. Northern Arkansas was in the middle of a nasty ice storm with trees falling down everywhere, creating a power outage over most of the region.
We had temperatures in the teens on many nights. I had now electricity or running water. I kept warm mostly with candles and whiskey—plus 4 quilts and a warm dog. On day 11, I managed to acquire a small propane heater.
Last night, February 11, my power was restored. I still don't have running water – broken water lines because of freezing temps.
I had planned to post a Groundhog Day blog on January 30 and had most of it written before the power outage. Pasted it below. Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on February 2 and proclaimed another 6 weeks of winter.
Just what I was hoping for – another 6 weeks of winter.
February 2nd is Groundhog Day. This is the day when grown men and women congregate outside of rodent burrows and wait patiently for a groundhog to emerge.
If the groundhog sees its shadow on this day, legend has it that there will be six more weeks of winter.
If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, it either means it will be an early spring or the groundhog was too busy gawking at the people who were gawking at it to notice.
There are many other holidays involving rodents but few people pay much attention to them.
WOODCHUCK DAY. Woodchuck is another name for a groundhog. Lumberjacks celebrate this holiday exactly seven weeks after Groundhog Day, when enough time has passed for the woodchuck to get a bit frisky after a winter of hibernation. On this day, lumberjacks from Maine to Oregon stalk woodchucks to see how much wood a woodchuck chucks, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
SQUIRREL DAY. This is the first day of warm weather in the coming year when squirrels emerge from their nests to check on their nuts. Having spent much of the fall season squirreling away nuts by burying them in strategic places near their domicile, they must take an inventory every spring to make sure their nuts are all present and accounted for. This holiday is observed mostly by accountants, warehouse managers and store clerks by conducting a complete inventory on that day, then taking the rest of the week off to celebrate and cook the books.
GOPHER DAY. This holiday comes at the end of the college football season. Primarily observed by the alumni of the University of Minnesota, it only occurs if the Golden Gophers have a winning season and have managed to avoid NCAA probation for recruiting violations at the same time. Thus, this holiday is only celebrated once or twice a decade, making it a very special occasion for former Golden Gophers everywhere.
SEWER RAT DAY. This is strictly a local holiday for residents of New York City and Newark. Depending on the temperature and humidity, Sewer Rat Day can occur anytime in the late summer, usually in early August. This is the day when the highest concentration of rats emerges from the sewer systems to taunt the citizens of their respective cities. This is also a very special day for pest control companies and alley cats.
MUSKRAT DAY. A muskrat is basically a slippery rat that lives in or near water. Consequently, Muskrat Day is celebrated by slippery people who live clandestinely along rivers and pay no taxes. This holiday is observed on April 15, when federal taxes are due. The celebration includes drinking tax-free moonshine and taking an annual bath.
SWAMP RAT DAY. A swamp rat is basically a slippery rat that lives in a swamp. Consequently, Swamp Rat Day is observed by slippery people who live clandestinely in the middle of a swamp and pay no taxes. This holiday occurs after the first sign of frog mating season. It’s celebrated by drinking tax-free moonshine and kissing a loved one or a frog, whichever croaks the loudest.
BEAVER DAY. Dam engineers across the nation celebrate this occasion, always the first day in the early winter when the beaver has completed construction of its dam for that year and goes into hibernation. Most dam engineers have been in hibernation since 1939, when construction of the last of the great dams was completed. Rumor has it that some of the more militant dam engineers have formed a secret society that is scheming to create another mighty river system in a secluded location where no one will notice until it has been completed, somewhere like North Dakota or behind the Dick Cheney Library.
MOUSE WEEK. Timid people everywhere celebrate this holiday that coincides with Mardi Gras. Although the festivities are always very quiet, it’s the only rodent holiday that lasts more than one day. Timid people have a hard time releasing their emotions but once they do it lasts for a whole week. They dine on crumbs and avoid cats for seven days. Then they apologize for their outburst, usually to a goldfish or a potted plant, and shrink back into their comfortable lives of silent despair, patiently waiting for the day when the meek shall inherit the earth.
Quote for the Day – "Into each life some rain must fall." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and the author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and a vague recollection of the miracle of plumbing. His blogs appear on several websites, including www.myspace.com/bret1111