Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Poodle Day

    February Second is traditionally known as Groundhog Day, the morn of which the prediction of the length of winter is based on the appearance of the shadow of a rodent. Shadow appears: winter lingers six more weeks. Shadow does not appear: spring is near! Not very scientific, but I'm buying into it. Rodents have historically been used to predict many things: Bubonic plague, the Black Death, Typhus, Lieptospirosis....It is also a well-known scientific fact that without rodents, the research lab would be non-existent.  Rodents are brilliant little creatures capable of assuming many roles and contributing to great scientific discoveries, albeit not very attractive or lovable in the process.  Makes perfect sense to add weather forecasting to the list.
      February Second was also my dearly departed maternal grandmother's birthday, a much more historic occasion than the mere passing of a shadow cast by an emmerging rodent. She was not very fond of rodents, and it seemed a shame that  her historic Birth Day had to coincide with the celebration of the awakening of a hibernating rodent. A rather large, yellow-toothed, grumpy, sleepy, not-terribly-attractive-rodent at that.                                                                                                                                                           
     Not only did the world have to gaze at a buck-toothed fur-ball every year on her birthday, but the gentleman that accompanied "Punxsutawney Phil" from his slumber was a gentleman dressed in the out-dated fashion of the late nineteenth-century. If there was one thing that my grandmother was particular about, it was her attire. It had to be current, fashionable, coordinated and accessorized.
     I will never forget one particularly hot July day when I was in York, S.C.  visiting Grandmother. The temperature was hovering well over the 100 degree mark and it was, as we like to say down here, sweltering. As usual, we were sitting in the swing on the front porch, drinking coffee and watching the world pass by. Yes, I said coffee. My grandmother had a theory that if it was hot outside, one should drink coffee to balance the internal temperature of one's body with that of the external temperature, thereby reducing the effects of the heat.  Not very scientific, but it seemed to work. Besides,  there would be no research with rat labs conducted in THIS household, and we loved coffee. So I simply took her word for it and poured us both a steaming cup.
      Grandmother was looking particularly attractive this day, dressed in a smart Shrader Sport shirtdress with a raspberry, camel, and teal stripe.   A coordinating raspberry cotton cardigan was draped around her shoulders, and a pearl necklace and matching "earbobs" completed the look. She sat there on the porch sipping her coffee, pushing the swing gently with her foot, and fanning away beads of perspiration that were accumulating on her powdered brow.
    "My, it certainly is hot today," Grandmother commented as she sipped and rocked in the swing.
      I couldn't help but notice her cardigan still draped across her shoulder.
      "Grandmama, maybe if you took off your sweater you wouldn't be so warm," I suggested.
     "What?! Why, just look at how the raspberry of this sweater perfectly picks up the raspberry stripe in my dress. It would RUIN my outfit if I took off this sweater. Besides, what if France Addicks happened to walk down the street right now and didn't see how cute I looked in this outfit? I am NOT taking off this sweater."
     This came from the woman who always told me we have to "suffer to be beautiful," and whose scientific methods were more than questionable, but with whom I was not going to argue. She had her standards, and she lived by them with a fierce determination.
     So, as you must realize, it was a little hard to swallow that her glorious, memorable, historic date of birth had to coincide with the celebration of the awakening of a hibernating rodent accompanied from his burrow by a gentleman dressed in passe couture.
      Therefore, I chose this morning not to take the word of Punxsutawney Phil, but rather to take a more fashionable vehicle with which to predict the emmergence of spring.  Today, I officially declared  "Poodle Day." I marched Mr. Big, my rather fashionably dressed, immaculately groomed, oh-so-current toy poodle out into the cold February morn,  and stood there searching for his shadow as he shivered on the icy ground.
       Mr. Big predicted that we will have six more weeks of winter. After that, he stomped back into the house, shook the cold off his baby-blue hooded sweater with the matching pom-poms cascading down the back, and curled up into a ball in front of the fireplace. 
     Not very scientific, but it sure beats a dirty rodent, and I am sure my grandmother would be pleased.
   "Rebel searches for a shadow as Mr. Big emmerges...one is to be found, alas, six more weeks of winter..."

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