You know, Wiarton Willie predicted an early spring, and here are nearly FOUR weeks after his prediction and STILL it is unequivocally WINTER.
Fantasies of Cuba aren't even enough to keep me humming today...
Although the origins of Wiarton's groundhog festivities did make me chuckle, so I'll share it here, thanks to the omniscient wikipedia:
The story of Wiarton Willie dates back to 1956. A Wiarton resident named Mac McKenzie wanted to showcase his childhood home to his many friends, so he sent out invitations for a "Groundhog Day" gathering. One of these invitations fell into the hands of a Toronto Star reporter. The reporter travelled to Wiarton looking for the Groundhog Day event. None of the townspeople knew about a festival, but one suggested he check at the Arlington Hotel, the local watering hole. There the reporter found McKenzie and his friends partying and was invited to join them. The next day, the reporter lamented to McKenzie that he needed some kind of story to take back to justify his expenses. So McKenzie grabbed his wife's fur hat, which had a large button on the front, went out to the parking lot, dug a burrow in the snow and pronounced a prognostication (which no one remembers). The picture of Mac and the hat ran in the February 3, 1956 edition of the Toronto Star. A year later, about 50 people arrived for the festival. Half were reporters from various media, including the CBC and Canadian Press. Seizing on the opportunity, McKenzie invented a festival that has been added to over the years.
Wiarton Willie himself is a more recent addition to the festivities. In the early years, prognostication was provided by the "mythical" trio of groundhogs Grundoon, Muldoon and Sand Dune. Willie appeared on the scene in the 1980s. Wiarton Willie's predictive powers are attributed (by his followers) to his situation on the 45th parallel, exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. He is claimed locally to be accurate in his prognostications around 90 per cent of the time, although scientific studies show groundhog predictions to have a success rate of more like 37 per cent.
Death and ensuing scandal
The original Wiarton Willie lived to the advanced age of 22, and was found dead only two days before Groundhog Day in 1999. The organizers were unable to find a replacement, and instead marked Groundhog Day by revealing "Willie" in a coffin. He had been dressed in a tuxedo, had coins over his eyes, and a carrot between his paws. A scandal ensued when it transpired that the real Willie had in fact decomposed, and the body in the coffin was that of an older, stuffed groundhog. The Associated Press was obliged to issue a retraction on its wires.
(Imagine my bad mood if I had to spend today racing to get my house on the market! Thank goodness we didn't get that house... seriously, we are mostly feeling giddy with relief. That said, I have absolutely no regrets about trying for it, and it was a great learning experience...)
For Den: This was the last picture I took outside... like a month ago?