That cursed groundhog

I’m not here to comment on seeing or not seeing a shadow. Let’s just put that out there right away.

However, if you’re an American, then you probably know about Groundhog Day. It’s a day completely dedicated to tracking the reactions of an animal that most people run over with their pickup trucks on some forgotten and dangerous back road. Cynical way to look at things? Sure, but it’s the truth, is it not?

Other than Groundhog Day, groundhogs – as a collective species – get a pretty raw deal. For starters, they occasionally go by the nickname of ‘whistle pig’. What does that even mean? They’re not pigs and for the life of me, I don’t recall one ever whistling when I interviewed them by their burrow. Just a lot of clicks and growls was all I got. Where the whistling comes from, I am unaware.

Then there are the other names like, the woodchuck or the ‘land beaver’. Woodchuck could actually make sense. They have gnarly-looking teeth which gives rise to the notion that they do bite and chuck wood. But ‘land beaver’? That sounds like an insult to me. They don’t even make dams, they actually break things. By tunneling holes through the ground and eating up valuable produce, groundhogs destroy much of what they come into contact with. So the idea that they build dams on land is just preposterous. If anything, they are a farmer’s worst enemy. Aside from cow tippers.

And then there’s that woodchuck phrase thingy. Remember that annoying tongue twister when you were a kid? ‘How much wood could a woodchuck, chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?’ Yeah, I wanted to punch all the kids who taunted me with it. Why? Well, because they were without braces or retainers and could actually speak that obnoxious little verse. Me on the other hand? No, I was fully decked out. And by the time I had good teeth, that little phrase was out of style. I know because when you’re 16 and mocking little 3rd graders who have headgear – you understand how feeble you really are.

But let’s get to the main point of this post: Groundhog Day. All things considered above, you’d think that we’re trying to give ‘Phil’ a break by giving him an entire day. Something for him to celebrate and write home about. But when you think of it from the animal’s perspective, it’s actually a day that’s cursed. Why? Well, look at the facts:

1. Farmers hate them.
2. People run them over frequently with their cars. And usually leave their bodies to be picked on by crows (Sorry, that was graphic).
3. They have bad nicknames.
4. They instigate young children to ridicule other young children over a ridiculous phrase – thus, causing irrevocable harm to the child’s psyche.
5. They smell (probably…I mean, they’re underground most of the time and dirt smells bad).
6. And lastly, nearly every other known predator in the Midwest feasts upon them – wolves, coyotes, snakes, hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, bears, even dogs and cats will kill them! Yikes.

So, as you can see, groundhogs have a hard enough time as it is. Now complicate that even further with this – we give the groundhog a day that can (potentially) dictate the next six weeks of weather for us.

Oh, snap.

The entire Northern Hemisphere waits on baited breath for Punxsy Phil to see or not see his shadow. And if he runs back to his burrow upon seeing that shadow, then we know we’re in for it. But if he doesn’t, then our faith is restored in Mother Nature (and Phil, by default).

That’s a lot of pressure though. Everybody is already after him and now he’s got the fate of all weather upon his shoulders? Ugh. That’s gotta be the icing on the “crap cake” for this little guy.

That being said, I feel for ya, Phil. And all the other ‘Phil’s’ out there. Life dealt you a tough hand, but you play it well. And if it were up to me, I’d take the burden of Groundhog Day from you. And I’d replace it with something like, “Groundhog Month”. That way, we could raise awareness for all those negligent drivers out there who just so happen to clip you or someone like you on the side of the road. “Slow down, it’s Groundhog Month” or “Pretend there’s fog, save a hog”. Sound appealing? I think it has potential.

As for all those other things though? Well, I can’t speak for farmers or any of the apex predators listed, but it’d be a step in the right direction. Because nobody should be afraid of their shadow. Least of all a celebrity like you, Phil.


  1. Groundhogs are great subjects to channel your anger of Cleveland weather towards. My father’s .22 can reckon. Garden destroyers.

    Sent from my iPhone


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