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I am taking the liberty of posting this short essay. I wrote it to commemorate Groundhog Day in 2006. It appeared in my second book, and is republished here with my permission, so enjoy.
George

GROUNDHOG DAY

February 2, 2006

Upon hearing the news that the groundhog has seen his shadow this morning, thus predicting six more weeks of winter, I feel compelled to respond. As cloudy as it is this morning, there is no way any self-respecting specimen of <u>Marmota monax </u>could see anything like a shadow unless he had an artificial light on. Further, as cold as it is, any groundhog worth his salt would still be doing what groundhogs do best at this time of the year. For this reason, I am convinced that Punxatawny Phil, the most famous groundhog of them all, immortalized by Bill Murray and Andie McDowell (what a sweetheart), is a fraud.
I don't know if you might be aware of it, but there are actually a number of groundhog prognosticators in Pennsylvania. In Quarryville, home of the Slumbering Groundhog Lodge, there is Octorara Orphie. His prediction record of spring's early entrance is unchallenged. Unchallenged but usually wrong. In York County is Poor Richard. This furry denizen of the burrow predicted an early spring in 1993, just before the great blizzard of March, so his predictions can be discounted.
Perhaps the best record of all is that of Saint Thomas Tom, prominent subterranean resident of the community in which I reside. Tom eschews early predictions in February, leaving his hermitage for the first time in late March or early April, depending upon the weather. Tom emerges from his burrow to declare spring's arrival when it actually arrives. He has never been wrong. Our lodge, the Morning Marmot Lodge, meets on the first day the temperature hits 70 degrees Fahrenheit in April. Then we celebrate the rites of spring by sacrificing a virgin, if of course one is available unsullied, and then by retiring to the local Elks lodge for several adult beverages. Last year, this date came during the opening week of trout season, so attendance was down a bit. Trout season is taken very seriously by us Pennsylvanians, as is the coming of spring. The two usually arrive about the same time.
The groundhog also helps to usher in another Pennsylvania tradition. He retires to his burrow to sleep off the proceeds of a summer's gluttony about the same time hunting season begins. In Saint Thomas, we have a second Groundhog Day the last weekend of September to commemorate this exciting event. A feast is prepared (usually wild game of some sort), another virgin is sacrificed, and after these festivities (you guessed it) we retire to the local Elks lodge for several adult beverages. We Pennsylvanians do like our adult beverages.
I hope this tome helps others to understand our quaint customs in south central Pennsylvania, where men are men and so are most of the women, and deer are extremely nervous. Have a nice day, and remember that spring is just around the corner, wherever that corner is.
 

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Good read, mutt. Thanks!

There aren't any groundhogs in these parts, but with all the snow falling here today one would have a heck of a time seeing its shadow anyhow
 

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Muttley, you must take into consideration that Saint Thomas Tom, is to some degree, a townie and flatlander, compared to his country ridgerunner cousin Phil. Therefore I would expect, to some degree, a differ of opinions and predictions.
Does it really matter how long winter remains, as long as we mortals have a good quantity of a good quality Kentucky liquid to pour over ice? I think not, and after three or four tumblers of the fire water, could care even less.
 

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Some years ago when I was field trialing English setters, I ran into the guy who's name was on all my pedigrees, Sam Light. All of my setters had Sam L's Rebel, Sam L's Skyhigh and a few others woven into the mix. Sam was not handling dogs any more and had turned that over to a guy named Rich Tuttle, but he was still sharp as a tack, and to my amazement I found out that he was the top dog at the Punxatawny groundhot shindig. I always refered to the top person in such organizations as the "Grand Exhausted Impotentate," and as I remember, he got a huge charge out of that designation on my part. Phil of course was a much earlier version of the <u>Marmota monax </u>prognosticator.

I gotta tell you where I met Mr. Light. It was at a field trial held at the DuBois/Beaver Meadow grounds. I don't think any of my dogs won there, but I remember the people as being top of the line and they made us flatlanders feel welcome. I doubt much has changed in that regard since the 1970s when I was there.
 
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