underground at this time of the year!)
7:44 a.m. Overcast. 21 degrees. No shadows. Forecast calls for rain, freezing rain, snow, sleet, light mix hold the olives. Groundhog Day! The one and only holiday dedicated to a rodent, that is unless you count the Old World "Bludgeon a Rat Day" but there was a plague going on.
All eyes turn to Punxsutawney, PA, or rather nearby Gobbler's Knob. Never in the history of humankind has such a shy, reclusive beastie been pushed into the national spotlight. And we all know the truth: Groundhogs don’t show themselves this early in the season. Especially in PA. Especially when it's snowing. It’s too cold.
Would you leave your warm den unless you were yanked out of it?
Free Punxsutawney Phil! He’s a reluctant hero, drafted into duty. It’s reminiscent of General William Tecumseh Sherman, who so famously said when he was asked to run for president in 1884, “I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected.”
As Dirty Harry once said, “It’s a wise man, who knows his own limitations.” Sherman did. Most men don’t, they blunder through life until someone tells them the game is over. Turn in your keys. Go somewhere and hibernate, which brings us back to the topic du jour.
End the charade. Give Punxsutawney Phil a break. Let him sleep in. Spring is six weeks away, period.
In truth, in my part of the world, the groundhog is the biggest sciurid (I didn't make that up—it's the large rodent family that includes prairie dogs, marmots and squirrels). The bashful groundhog—also known as a woodchuck—hibernates through the winter. It's safe. It's warm. It's protected. Some do start stirring from their slumber in late February but it’s not to make a long-range weather forecast. Mostly it’s the solitary males looking for female groundhogs receptive to visitation and companionship.
Cherchez la femme, pardieu! Cherchez la femme!
It's been an odd, whirling-dervish kind of winter and we are only halfway through it. And we all could use a little companionship.