Tomorrow is Groundhog Day.
I'm so excited, I can hardly wait.
Around my house, February 2nd might as well be April 12th, because although it's NOT "Big Wind Day," (that holiday blows me away) it IS the only day of the year where a giant ground squirrel known as a "Marmot," "Land Beaver," "Whistle Pig," or "Woodchuck," gets a chance to play prognosticator to a bunch of adoring U.S. citizens who are eagerly waiting to see if they get to pack their winter coats in the attic trunk, or if they have a good excuse to overeat and wear silly looking sock hats for 6 more weeks.
It does seem kind of silly to watch a Marmot emerge from his den, decide if his reactions constitute him NOT seeing his shadow, then inferring that it means that the cold snap is soon to end, and to infer that if his reactions imply that he HAS seen his shadow, that we are due precisely 1.5 months of Winter. Silly, perhaps, but people have been married and wars have been started over much sillier concepts (take the American Revolution, for instance, where England, WAY over there across the Atlantic told American Colonists to follow its rules, to send them most of their money, to not brush their teeth, and to drive on the left side of the road--Outlandish!!!)
Now, if it were any old groundhog (do you think they got their name because they ran off all the moles, rabbits, and other burrowing animals??), then my family and I wouldn't take any more stock in the annual holiday than we do with the evening forecast on the local news channels. But this is not an ordinary Marmot, no! It's Punxsutawney Phil, a dapper little rodent from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a city renown for its funny name, the proclivity of its local men to don overcoats and top hats, and their bizarre fascination for Whistle Pigs.
With Christmas and New Year's recently behind us, I'm excited about the next BIG holiday. While it isn't a day we get to miss work and school for (officially . . . YET), my family and I still adorn our house with a myriad of Groundhog Day decorations (quit laughing. yes, they DO make them). With lit candles (rodent scent), we festoon the small crawl space in the hall closet beneath the stairs with brown streamers to simulate the actual "Gobbler's Knob" where the "Real" Phil lives (I hear they replace him every year, and that he lives in Jersey on the other 354 days of the year). Our hand-made banners are strew throughout the house stating our individual result preferences of what Phil will do (we tell ourselves that we can "agree to disagree.") Phrases like "Shadow Please. I LOVE to sneeze" or "No Shad-OW, Cold's gotta go" become rallying points as my son, daughter, and wife align against me (if it weren't for them, I'd live in Montana and have my own pet woodchuck, whereby I'd teach him chuck wood.)
What my family doesn't realize is that I REALLY want winter to continue NOT because I enjoy having all the "dead from not being watered and not from being frozen" plants in my garage taking up my wood shop space in my garage, but because I simply don't like to sweat, and by "sweat," I don't mean work (like the work involved in taking all the dead plants back outside again), but rather the actual act of having to perspire because I'm HOT. This is the same reason I keep my classroom as cold as possible (it also helps to preserver the math). Besides, if it stays cold for another 6 weeks, that's more time to snuggle and spoon . . . but I've said too much.
So anyway, tomorrow might be just another February 2nd to you, and winter is going to come and go as it pleases (several times a season here in Texas), but to ME, its a day that pays homage to the fact that prediction, especially about the future, is so easy, a cute rodent can do it, and how we, as humans, have an inherent desire to look forward and report/talk about things, even if it means looking forward to something we don't desire.
At least we always have something to talk about: If Phil's correct, we marvel at how nature enables it's creatures with innate, accurate instincts. If Phil's wrong, we marvel at how grown men in tuxedos can place all their beliefs in the animalistic whims of a rodent.
It's time for me to light the "Rodent-smelling" candle and dust off my top hat.