Groundhog Day has come and gone but winter will not see the same fate – not for a few more weeks. The sage of the forest, Punxsutawney Phil, has spoken. Early this morning, in Pennsylvania, he saw his shadow which means that one of the worst winters in decades will not let up for six more weeks. While there is absolutely no scientific validity to this notion, any luck to have the cold weather cease is more than welcome.
Since 1886, this yearly tradition has relied on the groundhog noticing his shadow when he emerges from the earth. At daybreak, he emerges to find thousands of bystanders hoping and wishing for an early springtime. Legend states that if Phil sees his shadow at daybreak on February 2nd, the depths of winter will continue for another six weeks. However, if he finds the ground empty of a groundhog shadow, the people will rejoice as spring will arrive earlier than expected.
In Pennsylvania, the group known as the “Inner Circle”, a secret and elite society, was summoned to rouse Phil from his slumber to prove his knack for meteorology. As a cheering crowd welcomed Phil from above the earth’s surface, an honored and regal groundhog he was. The crowd waited anxiously if this year’s Groundhog Day would reveal six more week of winter of the oncoming of an early spring. Phil spoke to the Inner Circle in “groundhogese” and declared that Bill Deeley, the president of the group, to translate his most important message.
“A Super Bowl winner I will not predict, but my weather forecast you cannot contradict,” said Phil. The people in the crowd waiting and anticipating their own predictions of this year’s seasons were on the proverbial edge of their seats. Then Phil stated, through the translation of Mr. Deeley, “Why that’s not a football but a shadow I see, it’s six more weeks of winter it must be!”
A great sigh encumbered the joyous thoughts of children skipping through meadows and barbeque grills being fired up. Many morose onlookers were disheartened by the declaration. However, the people of Pennsylvania and the world at-large must obey the forest rodent’s authority. Then, as quick as he came to the surface to meet thousands of supporters, he went back below the surface to his burrow to do his groundhog activities.
Last Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. As for his legend, this would bring about an early spring; however, that was not the case. The winter weather continued into late March. Butler County, Ohio prosecuting attorney Mike Gmoser filed suit against the no less than gregarious groundhog. He even sought the death penalty for Phil due to “misrepresentation of early spring”. A Pennsylvania law firm came forth to offer legal defense to the wrongfully-accused groundhog and claimed that an Ohio attorney did not possess jurisdiction to prosecute furry woodland creatures in Pennsylvania.
While Phil is the most recognized weather forecasting groundhog today, he is but one of a small group of woodland rodents that are charged with forecasting the seasons. In Atlanta, Georgia there is the nostalgia-driven General Beauregard Lee and in Staten Island, New York there is the aptly-named Staten Island Chuck (Charles G. Hogg).
At the Staten Island Zoo, Chuck emphatically declared on Groundhog Day there be six weeks more of winter through the means of his shadow, but also went further to give New York Mayor Bill de Blasio some trouble. Beforehand, the mayor brought heavy-duty gloves just in case ol’ Chuck tried to cause some trouble. “There gloves and then there are gloves,” the mayor said pointing to a pair of thick, seemingly impermeable gloves. “Try getting through these, Chuck.”
Although Chuck didn’t bite the mayor, he put up a good fight. As the handler gave the mayor Chuck, he struggled and jumbled around and ended up being dropped by the de Blasio. Although the crowd gasped when the events unfolded, Chuck fell into his pen and the handler was able to grab him without further damage. What an elusive little creature he is.
Over the years, Chuck has been incorrect in his winter forecast 29% of the time. The people of New York are undeniably hoping that this is one of the years he is incorrect. This year has been one of the coldest winters in decades. With the cold fronts moving down from Canada, people are trying to prepare better for the next polar vortex. Even though authority of the mystic groundhog may not be disobeyed, one can only hope that the next Groundhog Day the results will reveal that six weeks of winter surpass the country and the people will rejoice and relish in the springtime air.
By: Alex Lemieux