Quarter Days were part of the pagan calendar and were variously celebrated in England, Scotland and Ireland. But basically they had to do with agriculture, finance and feasting. It all got Christianised of course and then secularised again so that now, if you ask anyone when Candlemass is held, they’ll probably look at you daft. And to tell you the truth until the film Groundhog Day, I wouldn’t have known either.

Say you’re a farmer and spring should be on the way but you’re not sure when to start planting because weather can be a chopsy thing. What do you do? Ask a hedgehog of course. If he’s still fast asleep and won’t come out, it’s a bit too early to plant. But if spring has sprung, he’ll know — as will any hibernating animal. And then I thought about Meatball, the hedgehog here (hogging the scene) with Nathan Rosen last June.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I was just wondering about Minnesota Mick that I met

GROUND HOG

GROUND HOG

last September at Blue Mounds. Click on the photo to enlarge and he’s right in the middle by that tree! Is he awake yet? What a privilege to see such a shy animal in the wild and what incredible luck! I didn’t even know whether I’d got him — I just pointed the camera and hoped for the best and there he is. Whatever the weather, my little friend, I hope you wintered well and I wish you, and all my friends, prickly and smooth, furry and not so furry,

A Bright Candelmass

A Happy Groundhog Day

And an Early Spring