Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Granthall Day....

Today being Groundhog day I remembered, and I look forward to it with eager anticipation, that next Friday is Granthall Day; I can't wait to find out if the Granthall will see its shadow.  What's Granthall Day you ask?  I'll tell you.

My wife and I moved to Grant about 14 years ago and for about the first 9 or 10 years we had a Mr. and Mrs. Hall who lived beside us.  Mr. and Mrs. Hall were an elderly couple who lived a quiet, peaceful existence, never making any commotion and never bothering anyone.  With one exception:  Mrs. Hall was a bit of a snoop, and when I say a bit of a snoop I'm being kind; she made your business her business and she had years of experience at it.  She was at the top of her game and all the other snoopers envied her.  She was to snooping what Alabama is to college football..

Mrs. Hall's nosiness quickly caught my attention.  When we were in the pool she would stand at her garage window and stare at us.  When I mowed the lawn she was right there with me, staring wistfully from her garage window, her eyes reaching across the distance to the man on the Cub Cadet lawn tractor.  In short, anything that we did in our back yard was watched..

Now I'm a good guy, but it became extremely annoying.  One day I was particularly aggravated so I got out of the pool, bared my posterior and shook it in her general direction, much to the dismay and embarrassment of my wife.  Yes, I mooned a 150 year old woman and I'm not proud of it...much.  What happened?  Nothing, she didn't move a muscle, bat an eye or make any effort whatsoever to modify her behavior in the least.  At other times I would wave and gesticulate in obvious signs of distress and displeasure and it did nothing; she didn't skip a beat.  The woman was the consummate professional in the realm of snoopery.

It got to the point that I couldn't bear it any longer (and didn't want to bare it any longer, pun intended) and with no previous construction or brick laying experience I built this:

Not the prettiest job ever, but if nothing else I could sit out on that part of the deck without being watched.

During the typical viewing I would be out in the yard for no more than 5 minutes before she would pop up to stare at me from afar.  She would do this for hours.  Her ability to sense my presence was uncanny, it's like she had flying monkeys hovering over my house just waiting to report back to her the minute I walked out the door.  And flying monkeys don't come cheap, but she was really into her watching.

Over time I began to understand that there was a seasonal pattern to her behavior; she watched almost exclusively from spring to fall, but not during the winter, probably because she didn't have a heated garage and the cold was hard on her old bones.  Year after year in the early spring she would take up residence by her door whenever I was outside.

I began to joke to my wife that we could tell when spring was over because Mrs. Hall would come out of hibernation and start staring at me again.  I realized that, unlike Puxatony Phil, I could rely on Mrs. Hall to accurately predict the end of winter and the beginning of spring, so I began to call that time of year Granthall Day.  If she came out to observe but it was still cold, she would scurry back inside until it warmed up a bit more.

A few years ago we built a privacy fence around our yard and Mr. and Mrs. Hall are no longer our neighbors, but every February I think back to the Granthall Days of yore.  Do I miss it?  Not in the least.

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