Indict the Groundhog? HUH?!

Wait a minute—somebody please explain this to me.

As the seasons turned from winter to spring, authorities in Ohio moved to “indict” Punxsutawney Phil, charging the groundhog with a felony charge of “misrepresentation of spring.” The groundhog didn’t see his shadow on February 2nd, predicting an early spring. But spring brought colder-than-normal temperatures to Ohio, and the month of March has roared out like a lion with a couple of significant snowstorms in the region. For those of you who have been following more important news, here’s the story as told by the Washington Post:
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-22/national/37922275_1_punxsutawney-phil-bill-deeley-buckeye-chuck.

Now according to the folklore, if the groundhog sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. And if doesn’t the groundhog see his shadow, it means an early spring. That’s what we’ve always been told, right?

Let’s think about that a minute. If the groundhog sees his shadow, it’s supposed to mean six more weeks of winter…well, if you count six weeks from February 2nd, that would put us just a few days before the Vernal Equinox, which is around the 20th of March. Then, if the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow…it means an “early spring.” And what, exactly, is an “early spring”? Can anyone tell me what that is?

Seems to me like we have six of one, and half a dozen of the other.

Maybe folks were spoiled by the fact that March 2012 was the warmest March in recorded history. Well, I’ll grant you that. And I can understand that the folks in Ohio are a little weary after getting back to back storms during the month of March. But that’s certainly no reason to indict a groundhog on charges where the penalty is…DEATH!

There’s a better way for me to gauge whether we’ll get an early spring. I just take a look around the neighborhood here in Far Rockaway. I see when the daffodils planted in the front of my apartment complex begin to sprout. And every morning on the way to work, I walk past a pussy willow tree in front of a church as I walk to the Long Island Rail Road station. I check that, too. If they bloom before the start of baseball season, then I know going to be an early spring. Last year, both plants were fully bloomed at the end of March. This year, the daffodils started to push up through the February snowstorm that left us with 10 inches.

Feb 10, 2013: Daffodils pushing through despite the snow.

Feb 10, 2013: Daffodils pushing through despite the snow.

As of today, both the daffodils and the pussy willow tree are in bloom. Just in time for the Mets’ home opening game at CitiField on Tuesday afternoon. Looks like another early spring, at least here in New York City.

March 31, 2013: Daffodils in full bloom.

March 31, 2013: Daffodils in full bloom.

As for me and this indictment of a groundhog, well, I won’t take any stock in that. In fact, I haven’t complained at all about the weather. Now we’ve been sideswiped by those winter storms that hammered the middle of the country, but that February storm did leave us ten inches. And a Nor’easter in March made a mess of the morning commute. But still, I will not complain, not after Superstorm Sandy. My favorite laundromat still hasn’t reopened since Sandy flooded out the place; we have no idea if the owner has the wherewithal to rebuild. A friend of mine who owns one of the historic bungalows still has to finish her basement. To say nothing of the folks on the west end of the Rockaways whose homes were burned to the ground.

March 28, 2013: The pussy willow tree, ready for spring.

March 28, 2013: The pussy willow tree, ready for spring.

My post office on the east end here in Far Rockaway was the only one serving the peninsula until just two weeks ago; the other three post offices have just re-opened. My library did not sustain any damage and remained open, but the others in the Rockaways were not so lucky. There’s a mobile library to fill in for the Arverne branch, and two branches are still closed. Oh yea, and the A subway line is still out while they make repairs to the bridge and the flats that cross over Jamaica Bay into the Rockaways; they sustained major damage during the storm surge. The Metropolitan Transit Authority says the repairs should be complete by June, but no date has been set. In the meantime, we have to deal with a shuttle bus over to the mainland to connect with the train. And there’s a shuttle Train, the H train, to serve the rest of the peninsula. (The Transit Museum sells H train merchandise; proceeds go to the Graybeards, a community service organization in the Rockaways, to support their Sandy Refief efforts. check the website: http://www.transitmuseumstore.com/welcome/.)

So no, I will not say a mumbling word about the weather. So long as I can walk, schlep, or trudge through it, I will not complain. And I damn sure won’t indict a groundhog.

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