So, February 2, 2012 will be Punxsutawney Phil’s 126th prognostication.
According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring. I wish I had the internet when I was younger, because I always wanted to know about Groundhog Day and why a groundhog got to predict the weather? I was a curious child, and I had a lot of questions. My mom was worthless. Worth. less.
“Vickie, what are you doing? …………..It is 6:00 in the morning…………….I don’t know why they don’t use a dog to predict the weather……….Vickie, why are you putting on your coat? Where are you going?…………….Susie can not predict the weather………….No, she can’t…………..No, she can’t …………….Vickie, it is snowing outside, and you are not taking Susie outside…………….She does not have to pee….No she doesn’t…………..VICKIE!!! Get back in here!……..(Pause, muttering, pause)…….Of course she didn’t see her shadow. It is dark out there…………..She almost disappeared in the snow!………..Groundhogs can’t predict the weather……..No, they can’t!…… It’s just a joke.”
Joke? A joke? Punxsutawney Phil, that Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary. He wasn’t a joke. The weather guy on tv said he was real. People went to see him. My mom just pissed me off. I wondered how far that place was away from us. I thought I would ask my dad. It was too late to do it that year, of course, since it was February 2. And Susie didn’t see her shadow. I wonder if he would take me there next year.
“Vickie, Gobbler’s Knob is on the other side of Pennsylvania and it would take 2 days by car to get there. It is just too far away.”
Well, that just sucked. What really sucked was the fact that my dad lied to me. I found that out a couple of years later in school. Our teacher told us about the time she went to Punxutawney to see the famous groundhog. It only took 2 hours to get there by car? What? I was crushed.
So, I grew up, still curious about the little rodent. I would read bits and pieces about Phil in the newspaper and watch the goofy guys pull him out of a hole, where he would speak to the president of the Groundhog Club in “Groundhogese.” This was a language only understood by the current president, who wore a top hat and a long black coat. I wondered why the groundhog rat never bit him in the face. I mean, if someone woke me up out of a deep sleep and dragged my ass out into the cold, I would probably bite his face.
After the groundhog whispers, “I saw my shadow, dip shit,” a proclamation is announced to the world.
A proclamation that is made every year. And every year I have my fourth graders write a haiku for the famous little rodent. Some of my students wrote normal haikus:
I like Groundhog Day
Are you afraid of Groundhogs?
Don’t eat me, Groundhog
Groundhog hit by car
Why are you stupid, Groundhog?
standing in the road.
The famous groundhog
lives in a warm heated hole
Why come out, Groundhog?
Groundhog, please come out
But will you see your shadow?
Can I have some spring?
And then there’s my favorite:
Ms. Mendenhall, why
do you like groundhogs so much?
They don’t like you. Ha!
In the end, you know people know that groundhogs don’t speak their own language. You know that they really can’t predict the weather. And what I have learned more than anything is best said in my very own haiku. You see, I performed another experiment the very next year after Susie the dog didn’t see her shadow. Not good.
A pet guinea pig
is not a groundhog you know
Leave it indoors, please.