Years ago we lived in an old farmhouse with some acreage. For daily exercise I created a walking path. I would walk the long way around the farm pond, make a figure eight loop by the back of the barn; bypass the house, walk out by the tree break hedge row, back by the pile of wood from the old shed and up to the house. Walking the path twice took about 40 minutes. While the girls were in school, I would walk the path twice at least once a day.
One warm, sunny late August day, a movement in the grass out by the pile of shed board caught my eye. I slowed to a stop and looked down at the cutest little reddish brown furry animal I had ever seen. The little thing was very young and, literally, rolled up in a ball. I could not even see her head. Poor little thing, she was hoping if she did not see me, maybe I did not see her. Feeling an unexplained sympathy with the desire, I backed a step away and gave her space, continuing my walk a little less briskly, a little more contemplatively.
The memory of that walk is one of my life-defining moments. There was a shallow peace surrounding my life in that time. All had not spun out of my ability to control. A time before the upheaval and chaos in my middle earth life began. We were living in a cocoon spun with hopes and dreams based on a level of denial so deep, I could not even begin to imagine the amount of digging it would take to escape. My imagination at that time was based on a whole other set of priorities, which seems far removed from where I am now.
The little animal baby was a woodchuck and for some reason she symbolizes the beginning of the end of my denial world. Five months later I was having an emotional meltdown in my friend’s kitchen. In my life journey, this particular meltdown is known as the I-am-turning-37-and-I-not-only-do-not-have-life-figured-out-I-may-never-have-life-figured-out-revelation.
There is a really deep peace in my life today. I am on the other side and if I still dabble in denial it is of short duration and there is any number of people in my life willing to remind me of the consequence of straying off my real time path.
Imagine my surprise when a woodchuck came back into my life today. While researching groundhogs for a February 2nd post, I discovered woodchucks are groundhogs. Always pleased to learn something new, I am still wondering how I missed this piece of information all of these years.
You can bet I am going to be paying closer attention to Punxsutawney Phil’s more or less winter prediction tomorrow. After all, he is a distant Pennsylvania cousin to my Illinois woodchuck. According to reliable sources*, he has an 80% prediction rate, good enough percentages for me.
Wonder what message Phil might have for me tomorrow……..
*Wikipedia: “Groundhog Day proponents state that the rodents’ forecasts are accurate 75% to 90% of the time. A Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years puts the success rate level at 37%. Also, the National Climatic Data Center reportedly has stated that the overall prediction accuracy rate is around 39%.
WKBW-TV meteorologist Mike Randall put it a different way: since there are always six more weeks of winter after Groundhog Day, and the concept of early spring in the astronomical sense simply does not exist, then whenever the groundhog sees its shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter, the groundhog is always right, but whenever it predicts an early spring, it is always wrong. The results have an approximate 80% rate of accuracy, the average percentage of times a groundhog sees its shadow.”
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