Leave it to Phil

Cautiously and carefully I grasped the knob, twisting gently. Slowly I pulled the door open. Moving slowly and with the grace of a ninja, I poked my head out the door, then eased out onto the step. I gazed carefully about, looking for any threat.

Ahhh! There it is! My shadow! Eeek!

It almost scared me back into the house, but I had to go to work. So with blood pumping fast from the scare and the rather ambiguous threat of six more weeks of this cold, horrible winter hanging over my head, I stepped back outside, carefully not looking at my shadow. If I ignore it, maybe it will go away.

There. Now you all know what it would be like if I foretold the weather instead of letting a groundhog making the big predictions. Happy Groundhog Day.

By the way, I was being facetious about the whole “cold, horrible winter” thing. Other than the sad lack of ice fishing opportunities, this winter has been a dream so far.

But back to this weather predicting thing…

I wouldn’t want the responsibility.  Nor would I want someone to drag me out of my warm den by the scruff of the neck and shake me in a fake ceremony while wearing a top hat.

I received a letter from PETA the other day that made me roll my eyes a bit. It was in defense of poor Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous of the weather-predicting groundhogs. The author of the letter, Jennifer O’Connor, states she has been toPunxsutawney, Penn., which is a pleasant town filled with friendly people. Then she chastises them for supporting the town’s traditions, stating another groundhog day is upon us and another stressed animal will be hauled out of a fake burrow and held up as if it’s still 1912, not 2012.

“Groundhogs avoid contact with people,” the letter states.

Can you blame them? After all, O’Connor says the famous Phil is on display year-round in a Plexiglas cube in a public library and has no quality of life.

Do other groundhogs have a quality of life?

O’Connor states it is time forPunxsutawneyto retire the “silly and mean” marketing event and work to encourage visitors to come enjoy the town’s charms for more than one day a year.

I’m sure the chamber of commerce there would be shocked to know they were supposed to draw in people more than one day a year.

“What?” they would say. “You mean, we want tourist dollars on days besides Groundhog Day? Why didn’t anyone say something? Thank goodness for PETA!”

O’Connor doesn’t seem to give a hoot about all the other Groundhog Day captives out there — Sutton Sammy from Ontario, French Creek Freddie from West Virginia, Tumbleweed from Illinois, Smith Lake Jake from Alabama or Chuckles of Connecticut, to name a few. Nope, she’s just trying to win a better quality of life for Punxsutawney Phil.

You just have to wonder how poor Phil would feel if he were suddenly taken out of his cage and sent out into the wild to fend for himself. He’d be all crouched up, hungry and cold, wishing like heck he wouldn’t have seen his shadow so things would warm up, and seriously contemplating what he had done to anger the people who have been feeding him all of these years.

“Why’d they throw me out?” the groundhog would wonder. “Next time I’ll lie and say winter will be over at any moment.”

Maybe another groundhog, trying to welcome the obviously out-of-his-depth newcomer to the neighborhood, would be kind enough to explain that O’Connor had written a letter and sent it to reporters all over the country, asking that Phil be retired.

“Well, what the heck did I ever do to her?” the little guy will ask.

We don’t know, Phil. But if it makes you feel any better, you can write me a letter.