*Yes, of course the names have been changed. You can't live in a town the size of Dublin and expect people not to know your business. In fact, half of you reading this will know who Meredith and Stacy really are.
Yesterday morning, Meredith, Stacy and I did our usual Blackbird coffee routine where we sit for an hour solving the problems of every desperate diva of Dublin, tackling serious issues like who's a closet alcoholic, who has new boobs, controlling husbands with widening wastelines, church drama and getting our biceps to look like Michelle Obama's. With each topic we heaped on "bless their hearts" like raw sugar on our coffees.
After about half an hour, talk turned to the weather. Ya know it's a low drama day in Dublin when a hen party turns to safe default topics that early. "Do y'all know if the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday?" asked Meredith. "I don't think I can take six more weeks of cold weather."
"He did see his shadow," answered Stacy, who never misses a news story, be it about healthcare reform or the ghost of Michael Jackson. "But I can never remember what that means. If the groundhog sees his shadow does that mean spring is right around the corner or it's going to stay cold?"
"Shadow means cold, and no shadow means early spring," explained Meredith, who seemed to have memorized this the way a child learns "lefty loosy, righty tighty." "I never understood why, though. He sees his shadow because the sun is out and we think of spring when we think sunny days, and winter when we see clouds, in which he wouldn't see his shadow. I don't get it, but I guess you can't argue with a groundhog."
"I don't really think it's scientific," I finally chimed in. "I mean, I'd stick with the Weather Channel if I were you." Both Meredith and Stacy looked at me with incredulity as if I'd just denounced the Holy Trinity. "Well," said Stacy taking offense to my shrugging off of Punxsutawney Phil's ominous prediction, "he's been doing it for years and been amazingly accurate."
"I'm just saying I wouldn't put 100% of my trust in an oversized woodland rodent. It's like taking my stock portfolio over to Mrs. Cooper, the palm and Tarot card reader to predict the Dow Jones." I could see that I wasn't gaining popularity with my friends and I may just not be invited to the next coffee talk session. In an effort to save myself, I tried to offer a look to the bright side. "Well, ya know Punxsutawney Phil is up in Pennsylvania. Maybe that just means that THEY'LL have six more weeks of cold weather. Wouldn't it be hard for him to say what'll happen here in GA?"
"Angela," Stacy sneered, "there are groundhogs all over the country that predict the weather for their areas. We're not in Punxsutawney Phil's region. We have our own representative."
"Oh! Wow." I'd been TOLD. Clearly, I was stepping out of line on a topic about which I was clearly ignorant. This led to my brain bubbling over with questions...that I didn't want to ask Stacy and Meredith for fear of further alienation.
A full 24 hours later, it's still bothering me. I've obviously got to do some research on the subject of groundhogs, Groundhog Day and how what I'd assumed was just a ceremonial holiday actually indicates our global weather patterns. Maybe Al Gore should consult with groundhogs in researching the greenhouse effect and global warming. They'd probably see HIS shadow...and laugh.
Here are my questions in no particular order, just in case you've been wondering the same things or have any insights you'd like to share.
1) If there are regional groundhogs, how are they chosen? Are they elected officials? I've never seen "GROUNDHOG" listed on any ballot I've ever cast. Maybe it's not a people vote; maybe only groundhogs vote. And if they do, then do several groundhogs run for this highly coveted office, spending lots of donated money on their campaigns? Do they serve four year terms? Can they be impeached? Can their decision be overturned if they didn't see their shadow but an onlooker did? That leads to another question. What are the qualifications to being the Groundhog Day groundhog? I supposed good eyesight would be at the top of the list. Also the ability to discern their own shadow from that of a groundhog shaped bush that they may be standing next to. Do groundhogs have to take meteorology classes? Is it a paid position? Can I nominate a groundhog that I think would be good for the job. I mean, heck, it's one day a year. Who wouldn't want those hours? If there are regional groundhogs, why don't we ever hear of the one in Georgia? I'd like to know his (or her) name. It's probably something like Sonny or Bubba or Jimmy Ray.
2) And what about Punxsutawney Phil? He's been the official USA seasonal prediction rodent since I was a child. Is he really old now, or have there been a whole string of Phil's like UGA dogs and Morris the 9 Lives cats? Does Phil live in a posh underground lair with a wetbar, a jacuzzi and lots of sexy female groundhogs ready to serve him,paid for by the government? Or, does the mayor of Punxsutawney just go into the woods early morning on Feb 2nd and nab the first groundhog he sees? Then he takes the terrified animal back to Gobbler's Knob amid marching bands and TV cameras, where it urinates on him upon spotting its shadow which now frightens the poor critter to an early death?
If #2 is accurate, then I'm surprised PETA hasn't gotten involved protesting unfair labor practices. Does Punxsutawney Phil get a salary? benefits? woker's comp for on the job injuries? Are there any groundhog labor unions to keep them from being exploited?
Okay, time to get to work answering these oh so vital questions. I'll post my answers soon. I know you're just as concerned as I am.