Ground hogs day came and went almost a week ago, and fool that I am, I missed the entire day. As a resident of a part of the world where long oppressive winters are expected, I don’t typically bother with the false hope or disappointment generated by the shadow of an oversized rodent…he usually predicts more winter anyway.
That said, I was at a gathering recently and surprise, surprise, the weather came up in conversation. In this bleak gray overtaxed tundra that I call…the place I live until I can move, a very mild winter (so far) has us thinking we are cheating fate. It was during a fascinating discussion on historic weather patterns in our region that it was brought to my attention that Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who decides our fate, cast no shadow this February 2.
None of my fellow party goers knew if that lack of shadow meant six more weeks of winter, or not. We discussed what common sense would dictate, as if using a rodent to predict weather patterns could possibly have a foundation in common sense: If one takes into consideration the fact that the sun is required for a shadow to be cast, no shadow would mean clouds. The sun is where our heat comes from, and so one could assume that if the rat sees a shadow one could put away the snow boots. Well, one would be wrong.
As a self professed Google proficient, or perhaps because I was holding my phone, I was elected to do some research, and this was a news headline on February 2, 2016:
“There is no shadow to be cast! An early spring is my forecast!”
Understanding the ramifications of no shadow moved the conversation along to spring. One voice warned that: “If Punx says early spring, that means we’re in for an extremely hot spring and summer.” Responses ranged from: “Oh, that’s just great!” to: “Sold, I’ll take heat over snow anyday.” Then the heated debate on the merits of hot vs cold ensued. Somebody put me out of my misery. I hate parties for so many reasons.
I felt the need to be the voice of reason, and put an end to this conversation by pointing out that while I’m not a meteorologist, or a Farmer wielding an almanac, I would wager a good portion of my hard earned debt on the fact that there is no scientific basis for this mode of weather forecasting, and as much as I’d love to take the word of an eccentric group of men who, while donning top hats, manhandle a giant rat and then prognosticate doom or gloom, I just can’t. Time to wander over to another clump of people.