Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky on Groundhog Day. Too bad the powers that be don’t think that’s a day we should get out of school. Sigh. But no, I had to get up before the sun, catch the school bus and spend most of the day sitting inside at a desk instead of hunting down groundhogs to see if they saw their shadows.
And so what if they did? I looked up the history of Groundhog Day. I knew already that the legend had it that if the groundhog came out of its burrow and saw its shadow that meant we’d have six more weeks of winter and if it didn’t, spring was supposed to be right around the corner. Aunt Love laughs at this and says in all her years, whether or not that old critter sees his shadow or not, we always have six more weeks of winter.
It seems the roots for our Groundhog Day started way back over in Germany. They had an ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day when the clergy would bless and distribute candles to bring light to the winter as Jesus brought “light” to the world.
Anyway, they had this little verse:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.
Then for some reason that I can’t imagine, they brought a hedgehog into the whole tradition somehow to see if it saw its shadow or not. Then when the Germans came to America and settled in Pennsylvania they didn’t have hedgehogs and so they decided groundhogs would do. They had plenty of them in Pennyslvania and so do we here in Hollyhill. Starting around 1887, they began making a big deal of it all in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Now they think their groundhog is the best weather predictor, but I suppose groundhogs all across the nation might stick their heads out to see their shadows.
I asked Dad if he’d ever actually seen a groundhog on Groundhog Day coming up to look for its shadow and he said no. I actually couldn’t find anybody in school or town who said they’d seen a groundhog on February 2nd. Dad says he guesses that means we’ll have six more weeks of winter for sure. Aunt Love said of course we will unless we decide to move to Florida or Arizona. Since that’s not going to happen, I guess I’ll keep my gloves and the snow shovel handy.
It’s not winter where Bailey and Lucinda are lost out in the woods. Last week, Bailey hit his head and now he can’t hear the hum in his ears that was leading him to his boy, Reid. How will he tell Lucinda that? She’ll never forgive him. So here’s a bit more of the story.
Bailey’s Bug by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week)
Bailey lay still. He couldn’t tell Lucinda the bang on his head had made him lose the hum they were following to Reid. He couldn’t.
He didn’t want to move, but the itch in his ear went past bearing. He eased his paw off his eyes and lifted his head.
“Are ye all right, lad?” The loose skin over Skelley’s eyes was wrinkled with concern.
“I think so.” Bailey sat up and scratched his ear. Maybe if he dug at his ear hard enough, the hum would come back.
Lucinda jumped down from the tree in front of Bailey and swatted him with her paw. “Stop that. You’re going to tear your ear off and unfortunately, we need your ears intact right now to tell us which way to go.”
Bailey stopped scratching with his paw up in the air. The itch was gone. Now his ear was ringing from too much scratching, but try as he might, he couldn’t hear the hum.
Bailey kept his head turned away from Lucinda as he put his paw down and stood up. “I’m sorry, Lucinda. I just shut my eyes so I could think about Reid and how he looked.”
“You better keep your eyes open or you might never see him for real again.” Lucinda muttered something about dogs that Bailey didn’t quite hear because of the ringing in his ears.
“Now, Miss Lucinda. It might happen to anybody. The lad’s merely missing his boy.” Skelley put his paw on his painted stick.
“We’re all missing lots of things, but that’s no excuse for running into trees.” Lucinda twitched her tail back and forth the way she did when she was irritated.
“I won’t run into any more trees,” Bailey promised.
“I should think not.” The cat sat down and began rapidly washing her face. When she was finished, she stood up and looked at Bailey. “So which way does your bug say go now?”
Bailey swallowed hard. He knew he should tell them the bug was gone, but instead he looked at the shadows of the trees. What was it Skelley had said about how they always headed toward the sunrise? If he could do that for a while, maybe, just maybe, the hum would come back.
“This way.” Bailey took off along a trace of a path through the trees.
It was easy enough to keep his direction for a while. He just made sure the shadows stretched out behind him. But then clouds piled up on the horizon and soon spilled all across the sky to cover up the sun. Even when the sun did slip out for a peek, the shadows pooled right under Bailey’s feet and didn’t point out a direction.
He blundered on, trying to keep up a steady pace even though he wanted to stop and look around every other step. Out of the trees, it wasn’t quite so hard. Bailey set his sights on some distant landmark and made a fairly straight line toward it. But then they were back in the trees and the clouds rolled in blacker and thicker. There wasn’t the least bit of a shadow anywhere.
Bailey kept moving tree to tree, but in spite of the way he kept his ears perked up as though he heard something, Skelley began giving him odd looks. Especially after they passed the same tree twice. Or was it really the same tree? Trees all looked a lot alike.
Lucinda must not have noticed. She had her eyes half closed following along behind them. She did that sometimes, almost as if she could nap while she walked. Still, she would open her eyes all the way eventually and see that he had no idea which way to go. He’d never been able to hide anything from Lucinda for very long.
(To be continued. Check out the whole story so far under the Bailey’s Bug title up top of the page.)