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Six more weeks of winter?


February 01, 2017
Well, it's February again. If you have a birthday or other special event to celebrate, happy birthday and congratulations. Otherwise, I have to admit I'm not a fan of February.

It's the shortest month, of course, with only 28 days most of the time, 29 in leap years. Did you know that every Presidential election year is a leap year? Last year, 2016, for example.

But February is in the middle of winter. The days are short and the temperatures are cold in these parts. Often, Mother Nature sends snow up to your kiester or coats everything in shiny, dangerous ice. And summer seems like a decade away. You winter sports folks might enjoy it but going and getting a hot chocolate is about all of the sporting I do in February.

Tomorrow, February 2, is Groundhog Day. That's not a big deal except in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Since 1887 that town, or actually its suburb of Gobblers Knob, has made Groundhog Day into its 15 minutes of fame. Early in the morning, before the sun is above the horizon, some guy dressed in a tuxedo and wearing a top hat, reaches into a cage and yanks out a groundhog. It wakes the little critter up and probably scares the you-know-what out of him.

shadow
shadow
shadow
Then the guy in the top hat lifts up the groundhog over his head for the thousands of people who have gathered to see. Yes, thousands. I sometimes wish Punxsutawney Phil, the name of the chubby rodent, would "do his business" on the top hat and tuxedo. It would serve the guy right for all of this indignity.

Phil is placed on a big tree stump and asked if he sees his shadow. Remember the sun's not even up yet. There are only TV lights there so of course he will see his shadow from the lights. No matter, Phil supposedly looks down and he tells one of the other guys dressed in formal wear whether he sees his shadow or not.

The human then unrolls a scroll on which is recorded Phil's answer. According to Wikipedia, "Members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle (the guys dressed to the nines) decide whether Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow or not several days in advance of the actual ceremony; its criteria remain a trade secret."

You know the rest. If Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If not, spring will come early this year. Last year Phil saw his shadow predicting more winter. Since 1887 they have kept records and the pudgy little prognosticator has been right only 39% of the time.

Do you Michiganders and other readers who live above the Mason-Dixon Line think it really matters what Phil sees? We all know that six weeks after February 2 is only the middle of March. Have you ever seen spring come that early? Dream on. So regardless of what our furry friend predicts there will be six more weeks of winter and then some.

February is National Bird Feeding month. Sometimes it's hard for humans to get to the store for food. Just think of how hard it can be for our feathered friends, at least those dumb enough to stay here in the winter instead of flying south. Be kind and put out some feed for them. They will thank you by pooping on your car. Just kidding. Seriously, the birdies need our help.

February is also Chocolate Lover's Month. Now that I can fully endorse. I love chocolate any time but hot chocolate in February is a special treat. Along with a piece of chocolate cake, obviously.

It's National Dental Month as well. I wonder if the dentists proclaimed that because so many people eat chocolate and rot their teeth?

For you lovers, don't forget Valentine's Day on February 14. When I ask Sue every year what she might like for Valentine's Day she usually tells me that she's fond of rocks. Rocks I ask? Yeah, the ones that she can wear and that are very shiny. "You know, diamonds are a girl's best friend," she reminds me. Diamonds are not a guy's best friend.

Usually the Chinese New Year starts in February but this year it began on January 28. It's the year of the rooster. Why would you celebrate a rooster? Roosters must be big in China. If you have one, give him some extra grain to peck at.

Finally, we celebrate President's Day on the third Monday of the month, February 20th this year. This year we have a new President to include in the celebration. And, frankly, is there any other day of the year that you might even think of Millard Fillmore, Chester A. Arthur, James Buchanan or Rutherford B. Hayes? Enjoy the day, Mr. President. We salute you all.

So I guess February isn't that bad after all. Lots of things to celebrate. I hope Phil gets it right this year. And I hope he remembers what I told him to do to the guy in the top hat and tux. But, Phil, there will be six more weeks of winter anyway.

Email Rick at rick.liblong@cox.net.

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