One year ago today I wrote about ‘Groundhog Day’, that strange phenomenon where the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil is supposed to be able to forecast the coming weather. A little story about the legend of Punxsutawney Phil.
Many, many years ago,
before the age of man began,
when crystal clear waters ran,
groundhogs wandered o’er the land,
fearless, free to come and go.
They wandered free as caribou,
they made their homes most anywhere
for sabre-tooth they had no care,
unafraid of wolf and bear,
revered for what they knew.
They knew they had a special skill
and one who in this art was great,
as he would often demonstrate.
You see he could prognosticate,
Lord Punxsutawney Phil.
One day he woke and sniffed the air.
A dreadful vision he foretold:
the earth would soon turn icy cold,
a deathly grip would soon take hold,
with snow and glaciers everywhere.
He said “my children, to survive
we must adapt to what I’ve found.
I’ve had a vision most profound –
we must burrow underground
to keep the groundhog race alive”.
With tooth and claw, cry and sob,
with fortitude and iron will
they followed Punxsutawney Phil
and tunnelled deep beneath the hill
they now call Gobbler’s Knob.
One hundred long and tough millennia,
the groundhogs thrive, fit and strong.
And though the fabled Phil’s long gone,
through his genes his name goes on
in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Though now we humans rule the earth,
as weathermen we’re no great shakes,
our forecasts riddled with mistakes.
Each February now, when Phil awakes,
he shows us what a groundhog’s worth.
2nd February 2013 – headline from the BBC
Notes: “Groundhog forecasts early Spring in Pennsylvania, USA”. Each year thousands of fans from as far away as Australia and Russia visit the tiny western Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney where people have been looking to groundhogs for weather forecasts since 1887. They gathered on Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania to watch the furry rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, emerge from his lair. According to folklore, if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, winter will last six more weeks. If he does not, spring will come early. And that is what the Inner Circle – the group that dons top hats and tuxedos on Groundhog Day each year to oversee the ceremony – reported to the crowds.