Harvard's groundhog is annoyed. No end.
While all the other good Marmotae in the country were out doing their bit for the weather bureau yesterday, the Medical School's specimen was under enforced hibernation.
She spent Groundhog Day quietly, but darted an occasional glance around her cage in search of the proverbial shadow, Poor lighting rendered her vigilance fruitless.
Groundhog Day is a strictly American slant on the 1457-year-old celebration of Candlemas. A feature-hungry press has perpetuated the colonial fantasy that groundhogs emerge from their winter repose on February 2 to observe the coming of spring.
According to tradition, if they soe their shadows, they beat a hasty retreat to their burrows for six more weeks of winter. If the day is cloudy, however, they allegedly remain above ground, confident of continuing mild weather.
Association of Groundhog Day with Candlemas stems from the ancient belief, widespread throughout the superstitious Christian world, that a sunny February 2 is a sure forecast of a cold spring. As the canny Scotch put it. "If Candlemas be fair and clear, there'll be two winters in the year."
Groundhogs, commonly known as wood-chucks or marmots, infest North America from Hudson Bay to South Carolina and as far west as the Rockies and Alaska.
They find New England particularly attractive because the area is mostly under cultivation, and there is nothing a marmot likes better than grade A garden vegetables. A definite propensity for red clever and celery has created a certain degree of bad feeling between woodchucks and Now England farmers.
The American appollation of wood-chuck is a corruption of the Indian name "wejak" or "weehak" influenced by the natural association of the rodent with the woods.
When confronted with this explanation of her tribal name, the Medical School's woodchuck cooked an eyebrow and, after a moment of meditation, commented, "Probably apocryphal."