Have some faith in the groundhog

By PHILIP W. CASE Spectrum Editor Published:

Theres every possibility Im giving up weather forecasting after my latest effort. Ive been lied to by, in no particular order: woolly worms, persimmon seeds, hides on horses, fur on cats and long, hot summers serving as predictors for long, cold winters.

But Im really not too distressed to have been wrong so far about the winter of 2005-06. I predicted a bad one and except for a little stretch back before Christmas its been a most lovely January!

And now comes Groundhog Day, the traditional halfway point of winter: six weeks since it began on Dec. 21 and six weeks until spring, March 20. Well celebrate the Day of the Furry Rodent on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Heres the legend in case youve forgotten or, heaven forbid, havent heard: If the groundhog emerges from his hole and sees his shadow then therell be six more weeks of winter, but if he pokes his snout out and its a cloudy day, then winters about over.

If the winter thats left is anything like the winter thats been, then we can hardly complain. But well hope he finds a cloudy day to ensure that what nasty winter theres been wont be repeated.

The challenge, as I see it, is thus: The natural signs like woollies, tails, and summers past have been something less than accurate this year. So, how much faith can we put in the ol groundhog?

Americas most famous and celebrated groundhog is, of course, Punxsutawney Phil who resides in a well-tended burrow somewhere in the great state of Pennsylvania. Each year hes hauled from his hole by a bunch of dudes in high hats. As the nation watches, Phil makes his prediction more often than not for six more weeks of winter and then is returned to his hole for a few more weeks of slumber.

Much ado surrounds Punx Phil and his prediction and if youd like to know more then visit the website www.groundhogday.org. You can order a T-shirt or a video and find out all sorts of useful facts about the day itself.

Once, years ago, I tried to start a campaign for Frankfort to find its own groundhog. I had a little help, including a recipe for a corn pudding designed to hopefully lure the hog from his hole when set at the mouth of the abode. It was submitted by South Frankforts Jack Walters. The challenge was I had to either cook the corn pudding myself or find someone to do it, and then find a hole and waft the aroma into it and Ive frankly never seen corn pudding wind going downward into the earth!

We never, needless to say, acquired our own groundhog.

But that shouldnt keep you from celebrating.

As Ive written in the this space before, Groundhog Day was always my late grandfathers favorite holiday because, he said, he didnt have to give presents or send cards! He celebrated nonetheless!

So, its coming up Thursday and youll want to watch for the prognostication. If you visit the website referenced above, youll see a running clock telling you exactly how long until Phil emerges.

May the day be dark and cloudy!

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