It Ain’t Easy Being a Groundhog

Commentary by Megan Stewart, PAW Writer 

Every year people gather around to see if Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog, will come out of his burrow and see his shadow. This of course means spring is only 6 weeks away. On Monday February 9th 2015, the furry little animal saw his shadow despite the overcast skies. If Phil is right, the cold winter storm conditions will likely continue. Last year, Phil also saw his shadow; which was the worst news we could’ve gotten due to the longest, unrelenting winter we had experienced. Though no one questions this dedicated groundhog, his accuracy is often a controversial subject.

Some people take this event very seriously and not just some fun tradition in optimism to be given hope of an early winter. In 2013, the groundhog was persecuted and a man even went as far as to want the death penalty for the groundhog after he misinterpreted an early spring. Pennsylvania law firm came to Phil’s defense saying they couldn’t prosecute the groundhog due to not enough jurisdictions. So for some, this day symbolizes a chance to get some hope that winter is almost over and when the groundhog gives them that hope and its not carried through, they blame him for false hope.

In lighter news, this year while the mayor in Sun Prairie, was holding the groundhog Jimmy, he bit down on the mayor’s ear. He promptly went on despite the bite and claimed Jimmy predicts an early spring. All groundhogs used for this day in North America have predicted an early spring as well. “Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” – Doug Larson, American columnist. Spring is a long awaited season especially when you live in the arctic tundra of Minnesota where winter seems non-ending and merciless. Spring makes you feel more full of life and happy, now that the sun is out shining and you aren’t facing he bitter wind of winter. It brightens up your day to walk outside and feel the warmth on your face and see the trees starting to grow and flowers everywhere. The winter can leave people feeling depressed and in desperate need for the new beginning spring gives. So we have this American tradition each year to give us the chance to count the days till spring and look forward to the warmth and regrowth. No groundhog wants to be the one who doesn’t see his shadow.