Friday, February 1, 2013

Tomorrow is (or is not) Groundhog Day

     Last year my February 1 post anticipated Groundhog Day with a poem that mentioned the crop damage that groundhogs do by tunneling under a field and nibbling the roots of crops.  Today's post was provoked by an "Urban Jungle" item concerning groundhogs in Tuesday's Washington Post
     When I was growing up (on a farm near Indiana, Pennsylvania) Punxutawney Phil was merely a local celebrity.  But the TODAY show and Bill Murray's 1993 film (showing at AFI in Silver Spring tomorrow evening) changed all that.  Here, in syllable-square stanzas -- based on the legend and recent climate change developments -- are several groundhog-day comments:

       Today's myth
       passes, the
       world moves on.

For many years we've believed
that on February 2,
if Punxsutawney Phil sees 
the shadow he fears, he'll run
back into his underground
home to hibernate through six
more weeks of nasty winter.

              AND if his peek 
              sees no shadow
              spring will arrive
              six weeks early.

     These days scientists
     want to shift the date
     of the groundhog myth --
     climate warming is
     bringing spring sooner.

Indeed, Patterson Clarke's "Urban Jungle" item, "Groundhogs fired up, ready to go -- climate permitting," tells of the work of a Kansas marmot expert, Kenneth Armitage, who debunks the shadow myth (groundhogs emerge to test the air temperature, not to see shadows) and tells of a Maine study in which groundhogs emerged from hibernation 17 days earlier in 2010 than in 1998.

1 comment:

  1. I like the post that when I grew up (on a farm near Indiana, Pennsylvania), I think is very good.