courtesy of D. Gordon E. Robertson, Wikimedia
Lately, groundhogs have been mentioned a lot in the US news. For centuries, folklore has attributed these fat, furry little animals with the ability to predict the duration of winter and the arrival of spring. Theoretically, if the groundhog sees his shadow when he comes out of his burrow on February, winter will last for another 6 weeks; if he DOESN’T see his shadow, it should mean that spring is just around the corner.
There are 2 famous groundhogs that have the job of predicting the end of winter and the arrival of spring in the United States of America. One, Punxsutawney Phil, has his headquarters in Pennsylvania, and the other, Staten Island Chuck, is from, obviously, New York. These two, along with their Canadian cohort, Wiarton Willie, didn’t see their shadow, thereby indicating that we would definitely have an early spring. On the other hand, another lesser known Canadian groundhog, Shubenacadie Sam, from Nova Scotia, DID see his shadow. However, most people, already fed up with the overabundance of snow, were more than happy to accept the prediction of the first three. Shouts of glee rose from all parts of the North American continent.
Oops! We should have listened to Shubenacadie Sam. Far from an early spring, it was a very extended winter. The last snowstorm was just a few days ago, in New York State; even here in Brooklyn we had snow that stuck on March 23. And so now, Phil, Chuck and Willie are in deep, deep trouble. There have been cries for their heads. Headlines all over the country decry deception and fraud, and Ohio authorities even filed a criminal indictment against Phil.
I would like to say that although I tend to agree that the winter was somewhat longer than I could wish for (we had temperatures in the low 30s this week) we can’t really blame those poor groundhogs. I mean really, not even the weather knows what it wants to do and so, it’s not fair to accuse these poor innocent rodents for not being able to read the inconstant weather’s mind.
In closing, Metro US news informs us that, since Phil’s handler took the fall for the indicted groundhog, the accusation has been removed and Punxsutawney Phil no longer faces the death penalty. Thank goodness for the hapless rodent. However, next time it might be better to be prepared for a prolonged or shortened winter, just in case the trio should mess up again. Run! Phil, Run!