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Lundi, 23 février 2015

Armpit of Winter

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Punxsutawney Phil lives in the armpit of winter. That's what my sister told me on February 2nd.

Now, my sister has a special interest in Groundhog Day. She was born on the second day of the second month - the armpit of winter, you might say. And that's when furry frightened Punxsutawney Phil emerges to predict the length of winter. Yes, Phil is the official prognosticator of winter to come, and he lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. That's in the snow belt of the US.
Phil has his fans - the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, especially. They drag Phil out of his burrow and hoist him high in front of a scrum of TV cameras every February 2nd. Yes, he looks furry and cute. And if you look into his eyes, he also looks frightened.

That's understandable, and not just because of the TV cameras. Phil has his fans, but he also has his enemies. "Is Punxsutawney Phil incompetent - or evil?", questioned Phil Edwards on Phil the Groundhog misleads us more often than not, says Edwards, after analyzing his successes and failures since 1988. "There's reason to suspect that Punxsutawney Phil may be intentionally making inaccurate predictions," he concludes. "Evidence shows that especially cold winters can damage the US economy, and Phil may be using poor predictions in an attempt to create uncertainty in the stock market."

Why this vendetta? It seems that Groundhog Day was traditionally a day for humans to hunt and feast on groundhogs. In 1907, hunters bagged 32 groundhogs, wrote Edwards, "a typical haul." So Phil is getting his revenge. His faulty predictions are just part of an ongoing war between humans and groundhogs.

This February 2nd, the sun shone in Punxsutawney, and Phil saw his shadow, officially predicting six more weeks of winter. But don't believe it. It's an evil plot.

Hope your birthday was a happy one, Esther, sunny or not.

Got your ticket yet? This original play by Ann Rothfels and revised for the Sawyerville stage by Pam Jouris is coming at us like a nail driven through glass in the hands of The Glass Man, Bill McCallum. Yes, the play is about local legend Bill McCallum, a Sawyerville cabinet maker with a very special gift - putting nails or thumbtacks through glass without shattering it. A true story.

The play is called Beyond Belief. Austin Bailey plays the role of the adult Bill McCallum. Young Alyssa Rothney and Brianna Rothney play the Imps. Some 20 or so others were part of the acting or production team. This is a project of the Eaton Corner Museum, which the proceeds will help support. The two performances are at the Sawyerville Community Centre on Saturday, February 21, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10, or for a child, $5. If you don't have your tickets yet, you can buy them at the Eaton Corner Museum's kiosk at the all-day Seedy Saturday event on February 21st at the Sawyerville Hotel, organized by the Sawyerville Community Garden. Until then, call Pat Boychuck at 819-875-3182 for tickets, or email, making sure to give your name and phone number.

High blood pressure is the topic of a videoconference at the Eaton Valley Community Learning Centre at the Pope Memorial School in Bury on Wednesday, February 18, at 10 a.m. to noon, in English. Here's a chance to find out what blood pressure is, what's normal and what's not, how to monitor your pressure, and how to prevent and treat hypertension.

Speakers are Christina Weiss, a certified exercise physiologist, Amanda Rizk, a physiologist who specializes in pulmonary rehabilitation, and Serge Breton of the Quebec Heart & Stroke Foundation. February is "Heart and Stroke Month." High blood pressure is a risk factor for strokes.

This is one of a series of presentations brought to the boonies by several collaborators: The Eaton Valley CLC, Townshippers' Association, and the Community Health Education Program (CHEP) of the Community Health & Social Services Network based in Quebec City.

Viactive sessions are going strong, and anybody 50-plus is strongly invited to join in. They're free and easy exercise. Bilingual groups are Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Bury, Cookshire and Sawyerville. All are welcome to drop in, or to attend regularly. In Bury, it's at the Armoury Community Centre, 563 Main Street. In Cookshire, it's at the Manoir de l'eau vive, 210 Principale East. In Sawyerville, it's at the Sawyerville Community Centre, 6 Church Street. Info: 819-560-8540 (option 9 for English - Marie-Josée) or

Usher in Valentine's Day by taking part in a Torchlight Walk in Island Brook on Friday, February 13. Citizens, friends, families, lovers, young, old, and everyone in between are invited for "a lighthearted evening of fresh air and camaraderie topped off with hot chocolate." The evening begins at 7 p.m. at the Newport Town Hall, 1452, Route 212, courtesy of Newport's 4 Horizons Recreational Committee. Info: 819-875-3895.

Anglican: In Bury, Sunday services with Sunday school are at 9:30 a.m. In Cookshire, services are at 11:15 a.m. (or sometimes a bit earlier) at the Trinity United Church, 190 Principale West (Info: 819-239-6902).

Baptist: In Sawyerville, the worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French (819-239-8818).

United: Sunday services are in Cookshire at 9:30 a.m., and Sawyerville at 11 a.m. During the winter months, the Cookshire services are on the basement level of the church, accessed through the side door. Info: 819-889-2838 (listen to message or leave one).

Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email by February 16 for publication February 25, or by March 2 for March 11.

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