Blissfully, the month of January has finally left the building. This means most eyes will be turned to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Friday morning, specifically to a groundhog named Phil. Before the sun rises, I will unearth one arm from beneath a sea of quilts, fumble for the remote control, knock a few things off an over-filled bedside table in the process, and turn on the news. Phil may not boast a Grammy stylist, but he will certainly assemble his entourage, known as his “Inner Circle” before he stumbles out of his western Pennsylvania burrow. Six o’clock in the morning is not my best hour, but I’m always listening, (if not actually focusing) as Phil shares his weather prediction with the masses. Braving the bitter cold in Gobbler’s Knob is clearly not my style, which is why attending the festivities remotely, attired in flannel pajamas, is preferable. Truth be told, from where I perch in my Nick and Nora doughnut emblazoned pjs, seldom does Phil tells us anything new. Yes, there are years and years of statistics indicating when he sees his shadow and when he doesn’t, but truthfully, it seems to have no bearing whatsoever on the atmospheric conditions swirling around me. No matter what happens in Gobbler’s Knob on February 2nd, we still have to weather the storm of February followed by March; both traditionally brisk, often snow-walloped months.
As the weather turns colder, we tend to fall victim to a little additional padding, as a means of warding off the approaching chill. Groundhogs are no different, although they start earlier, long before they’ve buried their white shoes in the back of their closets. As a species, we are known to hunker down on our couches, with easy access to Netflix and salty-sweets. Groundhogs probably don’t have access to cable, but I understand they seek refuge in comfortable burrows, ranging from 8 feet to 66 feet in length. This leads me to believe there very well may be a Bed, Bath, and Beyond for Groundhogs, specializing in extra long sheets. (Parents who experienced sending a child off to college and a freshman dorm, know all about XL sheets. They also know that less than one semester later, their college freshman will decide to move off campus, insuring the XL sheets will never see the light of day again.)
Not limited to ranch style homes, groundhogs often hibernate in multi-level burrows, spending the warmer months in their “summer” burrow. Decorated in wicker and shades of sea glass, with an infinite supply of Bain de Soleil and neatly folded, thirsty beach towels, I imagine the burrow easily accessible by the Garden State Parkway. In keeping with the need to add a few layers of fat in anticipation of their pending hibernation, you can bet the summer burrow is nicely situated between a Five Guys and a frozen custard stand.
According to the folks at National Geographic, groundhogs are close relations to the squirrel family, and are formally known as Marmota monax or marmot for short. Folks who have spent time with me know my leanings towards winter are about the same as my leanings towards squirrels. The squirrels living in my neck of the woods are cunning and crafty and downright belligerent. They have been known to scurry down a maze of tree branches, dashing directly in my running path, before shooting me a look that clearly says, “Watch it lady! I’m acornin’ here!” Learning that groundhogs are giant ground squirrels leads me to distrust them.
The Punxsutawney Phil that will sprawl across my tv screen on Friday morning will have just stepped out of hair and make-up. He will toss his shiny coat made brilliant by Extreme Bed Head product, bare his Crest-white-strip teeth, and smile for the cameras before declaring a little more or a touch less winter. At which point I will return to my burrow, hunker down beneath several quilts and dream of wicker and sea glass and Bain de Soleil, until the alarm reminds me to rise and shine, and not forget my booties, ‘cause it’s cooooold out there.
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