Groundhog Day, All Over Again

Here it is, Groundhog Day all over again. When you grow up in Western Pennsylvania like I did, Groundhog Day is very exciting, and a day we looked forward to with eager anticipation. Not only was Groundhog Day a huge event, it was treated like a National Holiday, even though we still had to go to school.

After all, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s were long gone and there really wasn’t anything special to look forward to. But then there was Groundhog Day. Now, that was a something to be excited about! Let’s face it, the days were dark and dreary, the weather was brutally cold, and even the most hearty of us were pretty sick of winter. 

By early February the fresh white snow that thrilled us a few short months ago was still on the ground, collecting dirt and piled up along the streets as large mounds of gravel-peppered bullet-proof ice. Icicles as big as a grown man’s arm hung perilously from corners of every building, threatening to impale a small child at any moment. The thought of Suzie Snowflake tapping at our windowpane one more time made everyone but the most hardcore skiers want to zap her with a blowtorch.

We were desperate for any sign of spring. So, we all looked toward the most notorious groundhog that ever lived: Punxutawney Phil. We watched and waited with baited breath for Phil to predict the weather for us. Would he predict an early spring, or would he see his shadow and sentence us to another six weeks of winter? Ahh, the power that finicky little rodent had over us and our future! 

As far as I can remember, Phil never once predicted an early spring, but we were always filled with hope that he would.  Every Groundhog Day I still look toward that small town in Western Pennsylvania to pay tribute to Phil, and see if he’ll release us from the clutches of Old Man Winter.  

Yesterday I spent ten minutes scraping snow and ice off of my windshield. I had to put my car in 4-wheel drive just to get out of my driveway. I spent the rest of the day watching Suzie Snowflake (along with all her friends and family) laugh at me through my windowpane as they tap danced their way to land in a soft heap on the ground. This morning, we’re digging our way out from a major snowstorm.  

It’s Groundhog Day, all over again. The snow is still coming down. The wind is howling, schools and businesses are closed for the day, and we are experiencing blizzard conditions. This morning Punxutawney Phil is very much on my mind, and I wonder what he will predict today. I have to admit, I sure hope he sees his shadow and burrows back in his den. Because I just love winter; don’t you?