Really, today is my absolute favorite holiday. Groundhog Day!
As a kid, I was enamored of the idea of a fat, fuzzy, incredibly cute rodent being able to predict the weather. Groundhogs, or their closely related western cousins, yellow-bellied marmots have been one of my favorite animals since the time my dad took us on a camping trip where we were serenaded by the shrill whistles of marmots at play. When my dad told me they were also called Whistle Pigs, I was hooked. Groundhogs, woodchucks, marmots, whistle pigs, rock chucks – they’re known by a huge variety of names!
There’s a colony of marmots I always look for in Yellowstone. It’s a very reliable spot, but sometimes they’ve moved to a different rock outcropping so I have to search for them. I could watch them for hours gallumping along, waddling over logs, or just splayed out on a rock sunbathing. If I go up to the park and don’t see them, the trip isn’t complete. I might see 10 grizzly bears but if there aren’t any marmot sightings, I’m a little sad.
Marmots and groundhogs are generalists and various species live across the entire Northern Hemisphere. I was elated when we saw some in the French Alps. They eat just about any vegetation and once the plants die back in the fall, marmots take to their burrows and hibernate six to eight months. That’s a long time! It’s a blue day for me every fall when I realize my marmot buddies are fast asleep in their warm dens.
There’s lots of talk about spirit animals these days. Most folks seem to choose flashy animals with great qualities – the prowess of a bear, the cunning of a cougar, the intelligence of a dolphin.
I’m not sure what it says about me that my Spirit Animal is a social, prone to lounge, chubby, sleepy marmot!