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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer springs to conclusion

With Spring Equinox around the corner, Canadians can finally start looking forward to the end of winter, and the promise of longer, warmer days. 

I remember as a newcomer feeling quite overwhelmed by the sheer length of winter. Growing up in north India, I was familiar with cold winters, but they were much shorter. Here, winter seemed to last half the year! So when I first heard about Groundhog Day, I found it fascinating that a creature called a groundhog predicted a quick end to winter – or not – based upon whether it saw its shadow.

But picture the scope for confusion in this scenario. First, I had to educate myself on just exactly what a groundhog was, never having heard of one earlier. I learned that it is also called a woodchuck and recalled those tongue-twisters we recited as children: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

But since we had never actually seen a woodchuck, it was interesting to learn that it was basically like a large squirrel that lives in burrows or dens. And that on Groundhog Day in February, it predicts how many more weeks of winter lie ahead. 

And here’s where this newcomer was more confused. How did people know if a groundhog saw its shadow or not? It seems a patently silly question when I write it down like this but at the time, it seemed perfectly legit! Until a friend explained how it worked. That it wasn’t about trying to figure out whether the groundhog knew it had seen its shadow. When a groundhog came out of its burrow, if it was a sunny day and it saw its shadow, it tended to jump right  back – indicating a longer winter. If, on the other hand, if it was cloudy, and it did not see its shadow upon emerging from the burrow, it came out to explore further and that meant we could see spring in six weeks or less! 

This is a fun tradition that I was happy to adopt, it being quite besides the point that Spring is supposed to get here around that time, anyway!

– Sukriti Mahajan 

 

What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@rogers.com.

Posted: Mar 1, 2019

June 2019

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