Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhogs and Common Sense

     “It’s Groundhog Day!”

           My husband smiled. He and I had both grown up in Pennsylvania. To us, Punxsutawney Phil was a personal friend.

            “So?” Alex asked. He was a Georgia peach through and through.

            “What do you mean – SO?” I asked. “It’s the day that Phil will tell us if we’re going to have 6 more weeks of winter or have an early spring.”

            “Isn’t it pretty much guaranteed that we’re going to have six more weeks of winter? Today is February 2nd, and spring starts on March 20th.  That’s – let me see – six weeks away.”

            Don’t you hate it when your kids use logic against you? “That is not the point of Groundhog Day,” I argued. “It’s about the weather, not the calendar.”

            “Uh huh,” Alex answered in a not-quite patronizing tone.

            “If Phil sees his shadow, the next six weeks will be cold and wintery. If he doesn’t see his shadow, the temperatures will be warmer. It’s a slam dunk. I mean, you have to trust a groundhog that has been predicting the weather for 125 years now.”

            “Punxsutawney Phil is 125 years old? Isn’t that kind of unusual for a rodent?”

            “He’s a very special groundhog,” I protested.

            “I’m sure he is.” Alex’s tone and the gentle pat on my arm crossed the not-quite-patronizing threshold into outright sarcasm, bless his heart. I swear he was trying to smother a chuckle as he left the kitchen.

            “Where did I go wrong?” I wailed to my husband. “He doesn’t believe that Phil can prognosticate the weather.”

            “I don’t know, dear,” Chris answered. “Maybe you should focus on the fact that a healthy dose of common sense has been instilled in him.”

            I glared at him. “What does common sense have to do with Groundhog Day?”

            “Nothing at all,” he replied with a grin. “Want to watch Bill Murray relive Groundhog Day over and over?”

            It was an annual ritual for us. “Of course.” I am fond of tradition – and fat furry rodents.

Phil Phacts:
1.      Punxsutawney Phil first prognosticated the weather in Pennsylvania in 1887. This year will be his 125th anniversary.
2.      Although normally groundhogs in captivity live to about the age of 10, Phil has been taken care of so lovingly that he is now well into triple digits.
3.      Like many other Americans, Phil has a bit of a weight problem. He weighs about 20 pounds now; the average groundhog in captivity weighs about 13.
4.      The US National Climatic Data Center reports that Phil is correct only 40% of the time. What do they know, anyway?
5.      For the first time ever, Phil will use Twitter and texting to tell the world his forecast. Oh, and you can also check his status on FaceBook. That is one clever groundhog!

Find out Punxsutawney Phil’s annual prognostication immediately! (7:30 AM Eastern Time)
1.      Phil’s tweet will come from the Pennsylvania Tourism Twitter feed.
2.      To sign up to receive Phil’s prediction by text, you should text “groundhog” to 247365.
3.      Phil’s FaceBook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Punxsutawney-Phil/103061141793

Want more information about Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day? Check out this informative and amusing article in the National Geographic Daily News:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/02/110201-groundhog-day-2011-punxsutawney-phil-weeks-winter-us-weather-anniversary/

You should see these outstanding photos of Phil. The Official Website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club is http://www.groundhog.org/

Haven’t seen the 1993 movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell? Really? It’s a classic! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/


  1. For those of you suffering in the arctic blast of winter right now, take heart. Phil did not see his shadow today, so the next six weeks will definitely be nicer. You can take that to the bank!

  2. We are having a great snow day and staying inside to watch Bill Murray, too!

  3. Snow blowing in horizontal streaks out the back windows, hot soup over bowtie pasta on our trays, and Bill Murray/Andie MacDowell on the TV--a true Pa. winter's afternoon.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed your day! You have to take advantage of them when they come. After all, "What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."