The Groundhog’s Guide to Surviving Winter

Groundhog

Hang on to your warm, furry hats: Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most celebrated groundhog, gazed at the ground and beheld his shadow Friday morning. This means six more weeks of frigid winter, if you trust the weather forecasting skills of this oversize rodent. —The Washington Post, Feb. 2, 2018

Right about now, it seems like winter might never end. So far, the season has brought snow to more parts of the country than usual, and long stretches of subzero temperatures to places used to the precipitation. And whether you believe in Punxsutawney Phil or real meteorologists, you can take a cue from the rodent charged with predicting winter’s length to survive it.

Groundhogs (or woodchucks) quite literally “hole up” for most of the winter. The average burrow is about 3 feet deep and 14 feet long, and includes 11 dens and galleries, including sleeping quarters, a nursery and a “bathroom.” Groundhogs keep these areas organized and neat — even waking from hibernation periodically throughout the winter for short bursts of housekeeping.

You can do the same! Nobody is going to judge if you want to spend some quality indoor time with the family, TV and couch when the wind blows and the temperatures drop. But at some point, you’ll have to harness the energy necessary to clean that nest.

Pick up detritus from meals and snacks as soon as you finish them. Make sure that all dishes go back to their designated areas for cleaning (and clean them on a daily basis). Gather up strewn-about clothing and blankets and get them into the washer. On a dry day, take dirty throw rugs, bedding and other mucked-up washables and put them through a cycle, too. Dust, sweep and mop to get winter dirt up and out of your home.

In completing these tasks quickly and continuously, you’ll make your space even more comfortable. You might also feel such a sense of accomplishment in getting those routine housekeeping chores done that you’ll be able to relax and “hibernate” more completely. You could even celebrate with a small reward such as a pizza or cup of hot chocolate.

In the spring — like the groundhog — you’ll be able to emerge from your burrow, enjoy the sunshine and indulge in healthy vegetarian options. But until the icy weather ends in six weeks, the challenge is to keep the space where you spend most of your time clean.

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