Groundhog Day. 2016-02-02

imageGroundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

It’s Groundhog Day! Ok, let’s review. February 2nd. Check. Rodent peeks his head out of the ground. Check. Rodent does or does not see his shadow. Check. 6 more weeks of winter. Check. It appears that no matter how that waskily wabbit, I mean Groundhog, throws his shade there’s always at least 6 more weeks of winter and sometimes 7, 8, 9, 10, and even 11. What kind of silly tradition is this anyway? We all know the lore of  Punxsutawney Phil and have our eye amusingly on Gobbler’s Knob for that annual event. It’s one of my friend’s favorite holidays even.  Every year she would put a cute and cuddly small stuffed groundhog on her desk at work. Adorbs. In my opinion, the two best things about this annual traditional celebration is that it officially marks the downside of winter and there’s going to be a Bill Murray marathon on somewhere showing nothing but the fabulous Groundhog Day flick. Love it!

This silly little day is a fun break in the droll cold dark days of the garden dormancy period after the festive ho ho holidays and before the hearts and flowers of the ever-loving Valentine’s Day. Cities, towns, state parks, and forest preserves everywhere have their token imprisoned fat rat for their own local forecast. Winter? No winter? The results are in, and they’re being broadcast on every news channel and streaming from all social media newsfeeds everywhere. Um…. Newsflash! It’ll be winter here no matter what happens. It’s the Midwest, duh! I contend we should be able to use anything that’s sitting outside to  observe a shadow: a shoe, a building, a park bench, a person, a dog running through the street, a donut, anything. If it’s sunny there will be a shadow. So why are we pinning our hopes to a shadow? The last mythical character to do that was Peter Pan. Apparently a shadow can be just sewn back on. Who knew?

Why do we capture and enslave those poor Groundhogs just so once a year they can be brought out of their cages to be held up for a ceremony they not only didn’t put their tiny top-hat in the ring for, but obviously dislike to their core. Every year there’s a story somewhere of the groundhog who wouldn’t come out of its cage, bit someone, peed on the officiant, or some other darn thing. Last time I checked, a groundhog is a creature of the wild. Thank goodness there is now a federal law protecting groundhogs from being captured for the mere amusement of the is-winter-over?crowd. The law doesn’t protect those already in captivity, but it’s a start. As I sit here today watching the unfettered merriment surrounding February 2nd, I’ll have a skinny vanilla latte in a toast to the Big Mac Daddy of rodents with a tip of  the ole black felt top-hat from Party City. I love it when Bill Murray let’s G-Hog drive the car. So funny. No matter where the sun shines on our furry buddy today, I vow not to put my coat away for at least another 6 weeks… Sandy

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