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Groundhog Day

Web posted on February 02, 2017

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Well it's time for that uniquely North American celebration (we need all the celebrations we can get this time of year) called Groundhog Day. A rodent of the marmot persuasion is supposed to wake up from its hibernation and tell us if it we get an early spring or six more weeks of winter depending on whether or not a shadow is seen. The nearest of these rodents is Wiarton Willy. The collective accuracy of all of these rodents is around 30-35%. Some might contend that is about the same accuracy as Environment Canada, or The Weather Network.

As I recall the long range forecast for this winter was supposed to be a "traditional Canadian winter." It sort of started early back in December, but somewhere along the way things changed. We got warm weather while Europe had a cold spell. So far we have had a mini winter followed by a lot of yuk. Right now we should be having colder days, more sunshine and lots of snow on the ground. The past couple of weeks looked and felt more like November. To put things into perspective, we have only had four days of sunshine in January this year. Normally we should have around 21 days of sunshine. In January cold dry weather means sunshine, while warm weather means fog and clouds. It's been a really bad month for those people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Not much fun for those of us with a touch of arthritis either.

The weather is starting to look and feel more like February. A whole lot more sunshine would be nice to see. It looks like we will be getting some cold Siberian air for the next couple of weeks, and we may get a decent amount of snow. Of course that can change by the time you read this.

I figure that no matter what any of the rodents predict we will probably get a couple more snow events. We could get one of those nasty April surprises that make things miserable for a day or so. As for when all the snow will be gone, only Mother Nature knows for sure, and she is not telling.

Everything really depends on which official definition of spring the rodent decides to use. Meteorological spring arrives on March 1st while astronomical spring arrives around the 21st of the month when the sun crosses the Tropic of Cancer. The rodents predicting an early spring are on what could be called "meteorological time."

We all have our own opinions as to when spring really arrives. Is it when the last of the snow is gone or when the sap starts running? Could it be the first flowers blooming, or seeing the first robin? Some might say it's the first day above 20 degrees. How about the first heat wave? Others might say it's that first mosquito bite. An argument could be made for the arrival of "Roll up the Rim" as the first sign of spring. In reality spring is not just an arbitrary date on a calendar. Like everything else, it's a lot more complicated.

There are parts of the world (India for one) where they observe six seasons, and here in Canada some might say we have only two seasons. As we all know, around here most people will say that we only have winter and road construction, while further north it might be considered winter, and six weeks of rough sledding. We also have our own definition of the seasons depending on our interests. I prefer to think that we have three seasons: garage sale, bazaar, and winter.

Keeping track of the seasons can be as challenging and interesting as keeping track of time. Just think back to my columns on our twice yearly involuntary time travel. Things are not as simple as we would like to believe.

No matter how you look at it, spring will be here soon enough and we will be complaining about the mosquitoes and the heat.

There are a few other February events to look forward to. On the 14th we celebrate St. Valentines Day, so don't forget to order the flowers and chocolates early. On the 20th we celebrate Family Day while our friends down south call it President's Day, or as the current tenant (I did promise not to mention him for a while) in the White House will probably call it "My Day." Then on the 28th it's Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, Mardi Gras if you are in New Orleans or Carnival if you are in Brazil. Almost every country seems to call it something different. Enjoy your pancakes.

For those of you who just can't get away to a warmer climate for a winter break, you can always check out the mahobeachcam.com for a look at the goings on at the Sunset Beach Bar on St. Martin. It is a live feed of aircraft landing and taking off at Princess Juliana International Airport. This location is famous for people on the beach "jet surfing" when larger aircraft depart. Just Google Maho Beach and you will find all sorts of links to videos. The only thing separating the beach from the runway is a fence and a road. Some days this is far more interesting than anything on regular TV.

Late breaking news, the camera has been shut down. I don't know the circumstances, and the information posted on the site seems to indicate that they won't be back. I hope that they can find a way of restoring the feed. I am leaving the link up because they have a video showing the departure of the last 747 flight to the island, and I didn't want to do a rewrite of the last couple of paragraphs.

Late breaking news, the camera has been shut down. I don't know the circumstances, and the information posted on the site seems to indicate that they won't be back. I hope that they can find a way of restoring the feed. I am leaving the link up because they have a video showing the departure of the last 747 flight from the island, and I didn't want to do a rewrite of the last couple of paragraphs.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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