Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 26

Above: Dauset Trails Nature Center has many other animals to check out.
Above right: Gen. Beauregard Lee isn't the only animal with special talents at
the nature center. Raccoons and other creatures show off their painting skills,
and visitors are invited to buy some of the artwork. Right: One of Beau's
favorite treats is hash browns from Waffl e House.
Ancient legend
Groundhog Day originated from the early Christian custom of priests
blessing candles so they'd last all winter. The date of Candlemas, Feb. 2, was
midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and 40 days
after Christmas. According to legend (and history.com), people believed
that if Candlemas day was sunny, there would be 40 more days of cold.
The Germans modified the custom to involve badgers or other small
animals. If the creatures saw their shadows-i.e., the weather was sunny-
there would be six more weeks of winter. The Germans brought the
tradition with them to Pennsylvania in the 18th century, substituting
the native groundhog.
On Feb. 2, 1887, the editor of the Punxsutawney newspaper created
the first official Groundhog Day, enlisting a group of businessmen and
groundhog hunters to celebrate the day. Orchestrated by the Punxsutawney
Groundhog Club, it's been taking place ever since in nearby Gobblers Knob
and has morphed into an elaborate, multiday festival that draws national
and international attention, as Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual
weather prediction.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has
given Punxsutawney Phil an all-time success rate of 39 percent and a
40 percent success rate in the last 10 years.
English puts his faith in Beau.
" We don't really pay attention to that imposter up north, " English says
with a chuckle. " Beau's record blows Punxsutawney Phil's away. "
Home sweet home
Beau is Dauset Trails' only groundhog, but he has plenty of
company. The nature center, begun in 1978, has become a home for
injured, orphaned or non-releasable animals-bears, coyotes, foxes and
birds of prey that live along the .3-mile Animal Trail. An extensive reptile
exhibit behind the visitors center showcases snakes, alligators, turtles and
lizards. Farm animals live in a 1940s-era working barnyard that includes a
blacksmith shop, country store, cane-syrup-making area and tenant house.
" Throughout the year, many visitors come to learn about our animals
26 Georgia Magazine February 2024
and reptiles, " says English, who has been on the staff
for three decades. " Our 30 miles of mountain bike
trails and 5 miles of equestrian trails also attract
people from across the state. "
The center works closely with the Georgia
Department of Natural Resources and keeps a
veterinarian on call. Its website maintains a listing
of wildlife-rehabilitation resources.
" Feb. 2 is Beau's big day in the spotlight, and
he's treated like a king, " English says. " He gets plenty
of media attention and happiness from the people
who come to see him, but after it's said and done, he
goes back into his burrow to live a groundhog's life
the other 364 days of the year. "
Pamela A. Keene is a Flowery Branch-based
freelance writer.
When you go
Dauset Trails Nature Center, 360 Mount Vernon Church
Road, Jackson. (770) 775-6798. dausettrails.com.
In addition to the Feb. 2 Groundhog Day ceremony,
Dauset Trails hosts events throughout the year, including
the Bluebirds and Bluegrass Festival on April 20.
COURTESY DAUSET TRAILS NATURE CENTER
COURTESY JACKSON PROGRESS-ARGUS
COURTESY DAUSET TRAILS NATURE CENTER
http://www.history.com http://www.dausettrails.com

Georgia Magazine - February 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - February 2024

Contents
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 4
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 5
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 6
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 7
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 8
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 9
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 10
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 11
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 12
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 13
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 14
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 15
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 16
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 17
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 18
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 19
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 20
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 21
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 22
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 23
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 24
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 25
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 26
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 27
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 28
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 29
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 30
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 31
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 32
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 33
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - 34
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - February 2024 - Cover4
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