Monday, February 01, 2010

Groundhog's Day

I went to my car this morning. The temperature out side was a bone chilling 18 degrees. As I sat inside the vehicle I waiting patiently for the heater to show me the slightest sign of warmth. I then climbed back out of my icebox like car to perform a morning ritual. I had to scrape the ice and frost off the windshield of my car. As I scraped away, I looked around. I saw the snow on the ground. I saw the lifeless trees with the shine of ice hanging from them. The freezing cold around me stung what little skin was exposed to the elements. This is February in Connecticut and we are in the dead center of winter.

I'm not the winter type of guy. Give me sun and the beach any day over the white, drifting snow. I'm not saying I don't like winter. I'm just saying that winter is far to long. This is the reason why February 2nd. is so important to me.

In a time of super radars and satellites that could read the year on a penny from outer space, our weather men have it all. The now attempt to predict the weather weeks in advance. They could tell us with near precession the amount of rain that will fall. The could warn us of advancing storms and wind speeds to a breeze that hasn't even started blowing yet. But on this day, February 2nd, it's not the weather man I turn to for the forecast, it's a furry little rodent named Punxsutawney Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil is aground hog that lives in the state of Pennsylvania. On this day, Phil emerges from his little home and walks outside. As legend has it, if Phil sees his shadow, we are in for at least 6 more weeks of winter. If Phil goes shadowless, that is a sign that spring is right around the corner.
Now I won't be the only one looking out for Phil's shadow, or lack of one. There will be literally millions of people waiting to hear if the dead of winter will soon be replaced with the colorful life of spring.

This strange custom of replacing our weather men with a groundhog started in the 18th century in Pennsylvania. It actual origins come from Europe where a badger decides the upcoming end to the harsh winter depending on it's shadow. The date chosen, February 2nd, is the date used by the Celtics as a seasonal turning point.

So on this date I'll keep my frozen fingers crossed in hope of a shadow and a early spring. So here's to Punxsutawney Phil and to putting away my windshield scraper and turning on my air conditioner instead of my car heater.
Now I don't hold much hope in a forecast from a brown, furry, bucked tooth animal but then again, that's kind of the description of some weather men.

Thanks to one of my favorite websites,, here's a list of some other famous groundhogs.

Names of many other prognosticating groundhogs:

  • Punxsutawney Phil found in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

  • Wiarton Willie found in Wiarton, Ontario

  • Staten Island Chuck found in New York City, New York

  • General Beauregard Lee, PhD found in Atlanta, Georgia

  • Malverne Mel and Malverne Melissa found in Malverne, New York

  • Brandon Bob of Brandon, Manitoba

  • Balzac Billy of Balzac, Alberta

  • Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia

  • Gary the Groundhog of Kleinburg, Ontario

  • Spanish Joe of Spanish, Ontario

  • Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Pardon Me Pete of Tampa, Florida

  • Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

  • Octoraro Orphie of Quarryville, Pennsylvania