By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
As tradition dictates, yesterday was Groundhog Day, the day when a city’s specially appointed groundhog must do its annual, prophetic duty—search for its shadow. While my own shadow usually tends to make me look a lot slimmer than I really am, the groundhog’s shadow has a lot more riding on it.
According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will see its own shadow and return to its burrow, and winter weather will continue for six more weeks!
For Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, that’s a lot of weather prediction pressure. I mean, the poor guy just wants to step out of his burrow.
Imagine, wanting to go outside to pick up your morning paper and a population is outside your doorstep, anxiously wondering whether or not you’re wearing pyjamas, a bathrobe, or track pants, and a sweatshirt? And imagine if you actually haven’t had your morning cup of coffee yet? My hair would probably be in disarray and then I’d most likely end up screaming at people strewn across my driveway not to step on the snow because it’ll only be harder to shovel now that they’ve trampled all over it.
But, for Wiarton, John Close, the mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, had to listen carefully in on Wiarton Willie’s unfortunate verdict at 8:07 a.m. because Wiarton did indeed see his shadow. It loomed so large, he pretty much made a run for the comfort of his burrow. And I would, too, considering the 139 cm of snow in January alone and the minus 40 degrees temperatures that make us all empathize with even the bravest in winter—the snowmen.
Brrr! said Wiarton in Groundhogese. Screw this! I’m going back to my burrow. You guys deal with six more weeks of winter. See what you get when you try to coerce me out of my house?
Folklore or not, I have faith in the little guy. Winter has had its toll on me, what with snow squalls, wind gusts, low visibility, black ice, the Polar Vortex, a number of car wipeouts, and my reoccurring bout with arthritis. I’ve even succumbed to wearing long johns—and I don’t wear long underwear.
While I don’t place blame on Wiarton—why shoot the messenger?—I do, however, raise my mittened-fists at winter, which is adamant enough to try to spite me for another six more weeks.
With one shovel in my hand and cough drops in another, I tell my two, young children the news that Wiarton Willie so gravely gave yesterday. And you know what they did? They happily put on their snow pants, boots, scarves, and mittens—and conspired to build the largest snow fort in the country.
What do you plan on doing with six more weeks of winter?
Do you celebrate Groundhog Day or do you prefer to count on Environment Canada for your weather forecasts?
How do you feel about Wiarton Willie’s prediction?