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COLUMNS

Outtakes: Has Phil lost his credibility?

Frank Weaver Jr.
Suburbanite correspondent

Peggy and I have had quite a bit of wool pulled over our eyes in the short time we've spent living here on planet Earth. I mention “short time” as comparable to the Solar System's age and the name of our planet, “Earth,” just in case there are little green humanoids reading this. After all, we certainly wouldn't want them to think, that we think, we're the only ones that even inhabit the universe, would we? 

Frank Weaver Jr.

After going through a year like no other, the likes of which we've just gone through, it's no wonder that so many of us take whatever it is we are now hearing, whether it be good or bad news, with a fine grain of salt. It's sad to write these words, but we believed our leaders when we were told not to worry about this corona virus and the COVID-19 disease when first we heard about them. They said in no time (as soon as warm weather arrives) it will all be gone.

Then we were told to self-quarantine and everything would be fine. Next they told us to wear face masks, just to play safe. In time, face masks became mandatory, curfews were an everyday event and while the decision to quarantine ourselves remained up to us, the quarantines were mandatory for nursing homes, disability rehabilitation centers and most sections of the local hospitals. And warm weather arrived.

So you can understand how so many of us felt when we heard the weather report on Feb. 2. The one from Punxsutawney, Pa. The one given each year by a rodent named 'Phil.' Actually, Phil's a woodchuck; or, as it's called in the Keystone State, a groundhog.

According to the “Grand Whomever” in Punxsutawney, the chief groundhog waker-upper who has Phil arise earlier than any red-blooded American should or could possibly care to open his or her eyes, he holds the rodent on his fully leather coated and gloved arm, petting him with the other gloved hand amid a blistering, ice-cold, wind-blowing snowstorm, the sky dark with a heavy overcast and not a morning star to be seen.

Tradition has it that if it's cloudy and overcast, the groundhog doesn't see its shadow and stays out of its burrow, where it hibernates on Gobblers Knob, seeking food and Philomenia. This indicates that spring is just around the corner.

However, if the sun is shining and Phil sees his shadow, he's scared back into his burrow and continues with his winter hibernation. This tells the wise Pennsylvanians that spring will begin with them on the spring equinox, the very same day it begins for their fellow Americans all across the nation.

If I understand this right, the entire state of Pennsylvania was under a deep, heavy overcast. The only spot in the whole state where even a glimmer of sunlight managed to peak through was in the Northwest corner near the Northeast Ohio line on a Pennsylvania village called Punxsutawney and on a mound called Gobbler's Knob where this groundhog was waiting.

What we had hoped to be just a glimmer of pleasant news, was otherwise. Amid a blustery snowstorm, Phil dashed what little hope we still had. Phil saw his shadow.

Other years I might have believed it, but this year I say, “Groundhog wash!”

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com