It would seem churlish to let Groundhog Day pass without writing something.
It doesn’t feel much like the first day of spring. Personally I feel sorry for any small furry creatures emerging today looking vainly for their shadow. It brings to mind the punchline of the old Flanders & Swan routine about Stonehenge:
“…then we shall know it is Summer.
Well I’d better help you brush the snow off it then”
For some reason my reflections of winter are all about the real and metaphorical snow brushing. The fundamental decency of people who’ve rallied round when things were tough. Lots of little acts of kindness given and received. A time of reestablishing contact with lots of good people.
Friends, colleagues, neighbours and relations. The sort of people willing to have chat about rubbish, lend you a car, like your random musing and help you working out the meaning of the archaic words your daughter gets given in her spelling test.
Yesterdays corker was ‘friendlihood’ which seems somehow apt.
As our friend Nick was able to inform us after consulting his full OED:
“… friendlihood dates from at least 1390 when it was spelt frendelehyde and citations go right up to 1481, when it was frendlyhode (according to the Earl of Wessex). Nothing since then.”
It seems a shame its died out of use. We could do with a word for people being friendly to others – not as exclusive as community or neghbourhood, or as intimate as frendship. Perhaps Groundhog Day is as good a day as any to clear some snow and not be scared to be friendly – to cast a shadow that touches others.
For as another helpful and clever person once put it so well ‘gnomon is an island’.