Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2019


WRITERS WORDS: “One Touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” –William Shakespeare





Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog. Each February 2nd in the United States he comes out of his burrow to assist in making a very important seasonal decision.  Will the miserable, frigid, snowy-sleety winter continue for another six weeks OR will there be an early spring— a heavy responsibility for a small hibernating member of the rodent family. The 2019 Old Farmers’ Almanac asks why we have celebrated weather predictions from a plump marmot since February 2, 1887.

Historically, Groundhog Day always falls on February 2nd, the date that traditionally marks the mid- point between the winter solstice ad spring equinox. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, sees a shadow due to clear weather, it retreats back to its den for six more weeks of winter. If it doesn’t see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.( Although animal behavior began as a forecast attempt by nineteenth century farmers needing the right timeframe to plant their crops, Ground Hog day remains a time-honored tradition despite today’s expert meteorology.

Today, Punxsutawney Phil has become a national celebrity in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Every February 2nd, local dignitaries conduct official proceedings among thousands of spectators. It’s said when the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” immortalized Punxsutawney, a borough of approximately 6,000 people, tens of  thousands of spectators began to attend the festivities.

Punxsutawney Phil has my sympathy. His winter/spring predictions rate is an approximate and dismal 40 percent and yet, tradition and media hype continue to encourage Phil’s exit from his comfy burrow year after year, after year, after year, after year…. If he’s been the star in this annual custom since 1887, I doubt Phil will retire anytime soon.

I cannot help but muse about the fuss Americans make over unique events in our home towns. Recently in upstate New York’s Lake George many adventurous folks participated in the annual “Polar Plunge.” Again, an event that began with about 100 participants in earlier years has now blossomed into many hundreds of people donning bathing suits and plunging into the lake despite winter temperatures that can vary from 10 to this year’s 35 degrees.(proceeds are donated to a local charity)

It’s become an American tradition in itself for many individuals to seek participation in often off-beat or unique events. I believe most of us are celebratory in nature and celebrations, large and small, take our minds temporarily away from personal issues and maladies, political rants, occupational stress and monotonous “blahs.” Most of all, unusual occasions are just plain fun!

This February 2, 2019, Punxsutawney Phil is set to come out again at 7:25 a.m. from his Punxsutawney burrow among thousands and thousands of faithful fans.  If you are interested in learning more about or attend this famous event, check out these sites: and

Okay Phil, what will happen this year—Six more weeks of dratted winter or a favored and early spring? 



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