Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil has spoken from Gobbler's Knob: Six more weeks of winter! Do we really put our weather-predicting faith in a rodent (Marmota monax)? And one named Punxsutawney Phil, no less? (Yes I had to look up the correct spelling -- my college journalism professors threatened a failing grade on any project that misspelled a proper noun. That threat still lingers in my subconsciousness whenever I write or type out someone's name or a city. Don't ask me to pronounce it, though.)

Groundhog Day seems to bring up North vs. South feelings -- by this time of year, northerners are remembering why February can be the cruelest month, while southerners are enjoying their balmy 70-degree days and hoping they can last as long as possible.

But back to putting our faith in a rodent. Over the last 114 years, Phil's seen his shadow 99 times. However, his accuracy is about 40%, according to the U.S. National Climatic Data Center. This would earn him a failing grade at any educational institution in the U.S. But still we hold our breath every February second. And most of the time we cringe at six more weeks of winter.

If PETA could get its way, Phil would be replaced by a robot twin. Seriously. That doesn't seem quite as cuddly as Phil.

And for my Alaskan friends: They don't celebrate Groundhog Day there. No. Thanks to a bill Sarah Palin signed in 2008, they celebrate Marmot Day. Which technically is still groundhog day because a marmot is part of the same family. They tried to be different, but didn't quite make it.

So are you disappointed there's still six weeks left of winter? Or do you go by a different sign, such as Daytona Bike Week, spring break or (gasp!) the actual weather?

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