You know the tradition. It’s Punxsutawney’s sole claim to fame. For just one day every February people from all over gather at Gobbler’s Knob to celebrate the town’s most prestigious citizen: Phil. The groundhog. Now, absolutely no one would know what a groundhog even looked like if it wasn’t for this time-honored tradition. Yes indeed, he resembles a beaver, or as some have said, a giant rat. He’s dragged out, paraded around his “stump,” and he prognosticates for a moment before rendering a verdict…
Six more weeks of winter!
The tremors from that quake continue to shock us for the entire six extra weeks tacked onto what has already been the longest winter in history, or at least until the end of the day on February 2nd. And that illustrious day is a mere week away. Can you believe it’s been nearly an entire year since we got a look at Phil (who is the 20th — or so — incarnation of the original beast), and we’re once again looking for groundhog shadows?
You’d think by now there would be some high tech alternative to freezing our bums off in a tiny little Pennsylvania hamlet with a host of people we don’t know (and who are probably high, to boot), like an app that shows a groundhog sniffing for its shadow. The probabilities could be pre-programmed into the app and we wouldn’t have to leave our homes to get the to-the-moment info about a possible early spring. In fact, I bet someone’s already figured that all out and the app is available in the app store, but I’m too lazy to check into it.
The holiday got an infusion, though, when the movie starring Bill Murray was released in 1993 to much acclaim. Of course it had less to do with the groundhog than it did with the redemption of a sad sack individual. Oh, and with the repetition of a single day. I don’t think Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” will ever sound the same to me again without the connotation of an alarm clock slamming to the floor and the song ending in a crash.
But I love the holiday notwithstanding all the kitschy tradition that goes along with it. I actually spent a February 2nd “chilling” in Punxsutawney one year just to say I did it. That’s not happening this year but only because I know what’s going to happen ahead of time. Phil will emerge from his box, sniff the air like a sage meteorologist, see his shadow (because most times he sees it — check the data), and predict six more weeks of winter. What a bright chap he undoubtedly is, but I’ll leave the joy of his pronouncement to the hordes of people who still make the trek to Gobbler’s Knob every year at this time.
I’ll be checking weatherchannel.com from the comfort and warmth of my own home instead.