Well, I started my day Wednesday with a drive from Avoca to Slayton to Pipestone to Luverne to Worthington, and I didnâ€™t see a single groundhog. It was their day, so I would have thought the darn things would be popping out of holes in droves, ready to signal the nearest human about what kind of weather to expect.
Not so much.
As far as I can tell, the little rascals, also known as woodchucks and groundbeavers, arenâ€™t very forthcoming about the weather without human intervention. Nor have I ever actually seen one chuck wood.
Wikipedia says, â€œAccording to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.â€
So, basically, we really donâ€™t need the rodent for this. We can simply look up and ascertain whether there are clouds in the sky. Cloudy sky on Feb. 2 means the end of winter is near. Sunny sky means six more weeks of winter. How hard is that? Look up.
Wikipedia also says, â€œThe holiday, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog.â€
I donâ€™t know about you guys, but there ainâ€™t no way Iâ€™m calling a big old bear, sacred or not, a prognosticator. Chances are the bear wonâ€™t understand that word and will get angry.
I read an article about famous rodent forecaster, Punxsutawney Phil, of Pennsylvania. He predicted an early spring, the article states. â€œHe emerged just after dawn to make his 125th annual weather forecast.â€
Rubbish. That rodent is not 125 years old, and Iâ€™ve seen the TV shots of him being hauled out of his den by the scruff of his neck by guys in top hats. If someone hauled me out of sleep by the scruff of my neck, my first comments would not exactly be trustworthy or useful for basing future facts.
Then, as I read further into the article, I found something astounding. It seems the Punxsutawney Groundhog Clubâ€™s Inner Circle (yes, they really exist) help Phil make his prediction every year.
â€œIn reality, Pennsylvaniaâ€™s prophetic rodent doesnâ€™t see much of anything,â€ the article states. â€œThe result is actually decided in advance by 14 members of the Inner Circle, who don tuxedos and top hats for the event.â€
What! I cry â€œFoul!â€
Why the heck are we paying attention to this silly groundbeaver with the really long name? The Inner Circle is making all the plans, clad in their fancy duds.
Iâ€™ll bet I know what they do. They pay attention to the weather forecast, hear whether or not it is supposed to be cloudy or clear, and base their decision on that. They donâ€™t even need to wait until that morning and look up.
If they would just come clean and admit it to the world, they could quit harassing Phil.