punxsutawney phil

My husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein was a remarkable woman. I was quite impressed with her work ethic. That might seem a funny thing to say about a woman who no longer worked outside the home, but she was, nevertheless, dedicated to he work…her home. For most of her life, she lived as a pioneer woman, because while her home had many things, and was a normal stick built home, it did not have an indoor bathroom, even though the bathroom was somewhat completed. Water was the main concern, as well water was used, and there is always the concern of a well running dry, I suppose.

Grandma was born on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1909. Of course, we all know that the ground hog has a 50-50 chance of guessing right concerning winter, and I personally think that the latest Punxsutawney Phil, maybe doesn’t have its act together. Todays prediction was for an early spring, but…time will tell. According to statistics, the groundhog saw its shadow in 1909, so that should have been six more weeks of winter. I have no idea what the winter ended up like in Montana, but knowing what Montana winters are usually like, In would be surprised if the winter ended early.

Grandma Hein saw many changes over the years of her life. From the early days of automobiles and airplanes to the more modern days of both before her passing. She saw telephones, and even the early days of cell phones. She was able to travel to the places where her children moved, and meet grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even 2nd great grandchildren. She lived a long and happy life, and yet we still never felt like she was with us long enough. Today, Grandma would have been 111 years old, but that would have been an unlikely birthday to have happened. Nevertheless, happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much.

Funny thing about Groundhog Day, it has a way of sneaking up on you. It seems like the older I get, the more I feel like winter lasts an awfully long time. So, when Groundhog Day finally rolls around, and spring starts to be on everyone’s mind. Winter is emotionally wearing and leaves us weary…especially as it nears the end. I always greet Groundhog Day with mixed emotions, waiting to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. Oh, I know that Punxsutawney Phil is only accurate about 39% of the time, but it gives me hope each year that he predicts an early spring. It’s silly, I know, but it’s fun to anticipate anyway.

My husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein always had another reason to look forward to Groundhog Day…her birthday. If you took it seriously, the measure of “happy” could depend on whether or not a rodent in Pennsylvania saw his shadow or not, and of course, how much you liked winter. To be honest, I don’t remember if Grandma liked winter or not, and maybe as a child, she loved it, but I rather doubt that winter’s draw was as strong in her as she grew older. That seems to be the way of it. The older we get, the less we like the bitter cold of winter…at least if we have to be out in it. Nevertheless, I have a pretty good idea that Grandma rather liked spring better, because living on a ranch, spring brought so much new life. From baby calves to new chickens, to baby carrots, life begins anew in the spring.

I suppose that is why I like spring, and the Groundhog Day announcement too. Spring and the summer that follows it, are my favorite times of year. The birds chirping and the flowers blooming, remind me that with every winter there lies beneath the snow, the promise of spring and the renewal of life on Earth. Maybe that is why Grandma liked her birthday too. Today would have been Grandma Hein’s 110th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much.

Many people say they would hate to be born on a holiday, and for the most part I think I agree, but while it isn’t really a “holiday,” Groundhog Day, for my husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein, was a special day. When she was born on February 2, 1909, Groundhog Day in the United States was a mere 22 years old. There are lots of differing views on how it came to be, but apparently, it is pretty much an American tradition. It is thought to be a spinoff, of sorts, of a tradition that started with the early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important. On old song about the day went thus: If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight; If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again. It all sounds quite familiar doesn’t it? Of course in the Christian religion, it meant something else. It is half way through winter, and it was also thought to be when Mary’s purification day occurred after Jesus was born.

Nevertheless, leave it to Americans to make their warm weather travel plans based on the machinations of a reticent rodent. Each year, groundhogs around the country…but most notably Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, are paraded out to predict how many more weeks will transpire before spring is on the way. It’s either six more weeks of winter…as was the case with Punxsutawney Phil this year, or an early spring. It all depends upon whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not. This tradition has been going on since 1887s, despite modest advances in weather prediction since that time…if you think the weatherman knows his business that is.

So, while it was not a major holiday, Grandma Hein’s birthday always had an added little bit of sparkle. If her wish came true, the groundhog would predict an early spring, because after all, who isn’t ready for the beautiful flowers of spring in the dead of winter. Today would have been Grandma Hein’s 109th birthday if she were still here. Grandma, I know that where you are, the Spring flowers are always blooming. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma. We love and miss you very much.

Grandma Hein and Bobscan0033_editedMost people think of Ground Hog’s Day on February 2nd, but in our family, it is more than that. Today is Bob’s grandmother’s birthday. She would have been 104 years old, if she were still alive. She always liked the idea of being born on Ground Hog’s Day, and I think most people born on a holiday do feel like that is a special thing. For Grandma, finding out if Spring was coming early this year, and turning another year older were part of the same thought…almost like getting one more present. Everyone feels like their own birthday is the most special day of the year. I know I have always loved my day. I like the name of the month, the day of the month, and even the year I was born, but to the world, there is nothing special about my birthday, because I was not born on a holiday. To the world it is just another day, but when you are born on a holiday, it’s almost like everyone acknowledges it…or at the very least remembers it, like all of us have done with Grandma’s birthday.

This year, Grandma would have received the happy news that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, so Spring will come early. That would have been happy news to Grandma, who as I recall, didn’t care for Winter any more than I do. Grandma was always such a happy person, and I can just see a little spring in her step, and maybe a little brighter smile, at the though of the coming Spring. She always had a garden, and loved to be out there in the sunshine picking vegetables for canning. Of course, that was in the Summer, but Spring is for planting, and anticipating the coming harvest, which is what Grandma was most likely thinking about.

I wish we would have been able to see Grandma more through the Five generationsscan0017years, but she lived in Montana, and we live in Wyoming. Not too far for our yearly visit, but too far for visits that came much more often, and a visit on her birthday was difficult to plan because of the weather concerns. Still, she knew we loved her and wanted to come, because we did so almost every year from the time Bob and I married to her passing. I miss those visits to Grandma’s house, and the peaceful days that those visits meant. It was a special time in our lives, and a time I will never forget. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma!! We love and miss you very much.

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