It may be that I’ve been hibernating too long myself, but yesterday, rather than celebrating Groundhog Day with my usual its-almost-spring-even-though-it-really-isn’t optimistic zest, I felt a little sorry for all those groundhogs.
I imagined myself being yanked from a sound slumber and held aloft, hair all matted, eyes blurry and sticky with sleep, frantically trying to recall which jammies I’d pulled on last night and bracing for an undignified and very public fall because no human could hoist me overhead for more than a moment.
And then? Some top-hatted dignitary plants a wet one on my kisser and everyone cheers?
Gross. No thank you.
So, when one of those tawnies act a little punxsu, I get it.
For instance, maybe word spread through the burrows in 2014 when Mayor DeBlasio fatally dropped Staten Island Chuck (later revealed to be Charlotte) during the dramatic early spring reveal. And, given the potential speed of the 5G rodent runner network, perhaps that’s why the following year Sun Prairie Jimmy famously bit its mayor on the ear.
Note: The notoriously anti-groundhog press later reported that Jimmy “chewed his way through a metal cage and escaped,” though I suspect a more sinister explanation for the cranky ear-chomper’s disappearance. Were I a Dane County resident, I’d be checking any buried metal barrels for rodent remains right about now. Jimmy’s down.
I’m not saying I support human nibbling, I’m just saying maybe we give groundhogs a break and let them see or not see their shadows in the comfort of their own dens. Maybe the ceremonies could be more like the one Zookeeper Joe hosted yesterday morning in Milwaukee during which Gordy the Groundhog poked his head out of a tiny red barn, ambled by, glared a little at the assemblage, daintily selected a bit of granola and then called it a day. No hoisting, no kissing, no shadow.
You’ve got to admit it’s a little uncomfortable to see grown men posing with giant squirrels held tight to their faces. Do you really blame the little buggers for occasionally clamping down?
That’s right, folks. No shadow. Also, no spring. Our weekend forecast calls for -30 degree wind chills.
Time to make like a groundhog and head back to my den.
Bring on the sun in 2021!
And, Happy belated Groundhog’s Day (still a little surly, but always a fan).