Gilmer Free Press

Jeanette Riffle: French Creek Freddie Saw His Shadow

The Free Press WV

Many people gathered at French Creek on February 2nd to watch Freddie and to see if the sun would come out.  Sure enough it did between 10:00 and 10:30. We saw that whistle pig on TV and he sure was fat. He just kept running around on the straw inside his pen looking at all those   people who were right up close to the fence, peering in at him.

I noticed that the coming out of Punxsutawney Phil was much earlier than here.  He was supposed to come out at 7:25 a.m.  Perhaps that was the reason he did not see his shadow.  I was reading in the Charleston Gazette –Mail that it is tradition for the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to climb up Gobbler’s Knob there, to learn about their weather.

And, it is becoming more widespread as about 40, 000 people gather each year to witness the emergence of their groundhog.  I can’t imagine that many people, and what time would they have to get up, to be able to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get there by that time?  They wouldn’t all be able to go on that knob. Not enough room and they couldn’t all see the groundhog.  I suppose most of them just look up and watch the sky. Can’t you just hear the cheers when the sun didn’t come out? That groundhog probably took a dive for his den and burrowed in deep to get away from all that noise!

This old superstition began with the Pennsylvania Dutch that said if the groundhog came out of his burrow and the weather was clear, he would see his shadow and would dive back into his den. I guess it would frighten him.  There would be six more weeks of bad weather to follow.  If it was cloudy and there was no shadow, spring would come early. I don’t remember my folks believing in all that, but they did mention that it was Groundhog Day when February 2nd rolled around. Groundhogs were the mainstay on many a farm table at one time. My mother didn’t fix them, though. She always said that they were too greasy, and she didn’t want to clean one up.

Uncle Arlen Stewart killed one and brought it to us one time and Mom told him to take it to his mother or her folks.  Mamaw Warner parboiled a groundhog and barbecued it in a roasting pan. She fixed coons the same way. A young one probably wouldn’t have to be parboiled but if it was an old one, it had to be parboiled so that it wouldn’t be so tough.

My husband’s aunt, Susie Perrine, could fix a groundhog that tasted like a chicken.  She liked the young ones. She told me that after the groundhog was cleaned up, she cut it into parts, just like you would for a fried chicken. She made a mixture of flour with Lee & Perrins Sausage Seasoning, rolled each piece of meat in that,  and fried it in lard. She browned it on both sides and then added water and steamed it down on a low flame until tender.

Until next time, stay well and God bless!

--> Wednesday, February 06, 2019
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