Can you feel it? There’s an energy, an excitement in the air. Millions of people will be watching the festivities in anticipation of the outcome. No, I’m not referring to Sunday’s Superbowl. I’m talking about Groundhog Day. In the early morning hours of February 2nd, Pennsylvania’s most famous rodent will emerge from his home to determine how many more weeks of winter are left. If Phil sees his shadow, we are condemned to six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, we will be graced with an early spring. As you probably could tell from the previous two sentences, I’m hoping for the latter.
Despite growing up in the Northeast, I’ve never been a winter aficionado. Oh yeah, I had fun making snowmen and snow angels. But I never got the hang of ice skating and my parents weren’t skiers. The one time we were invited to a family friend’s cabin near some slopes in Vermont, we hung out by the fireplace, drinking cold duck.
Then there was the shoveling. My father wasn’t a believer in snow blowers and my mom had insisted on having a pebbled driveway as it’s “more attractive” than asphalt. It’s also a lot harder to shovel. The only thing worse than trying not to shovel away pebbles in winter was trying to avoid mowing over those same pebbles in spring so they didn’t spit out at you.
When my family moved to the Northern California, the running joke was the weather forecasts. The TV meteorologists would get six minutes of time to give the same weather forecast they gave the day before and the day before that. There are really only two seasons in Northern California—winter and summer and they are practically the same. Despite the temperate winters, I vowed that I wouldn’t become soft like the other inhabitants. My blood wasn’t going to thin. I seldom wore coats. I avoided jackets and gloves. I was the one who had no raincoat, much to my mother’s consternation. “You’re going to get arthritis one of these days, mark my words,” she’d warn.
In spite of my precautions, all the years out west still made me weak. When we relocated to Iowa, the state was going through the second year of a polar vortex. The snow arrived and kept on coming. The wind blew. We lost power several times, we lost our satellite TV even more times. And for the first time, I became a weather update junkie, hitting the Weather channel, the local news stations and Weather.com for an update of weather conditions.
Last winter was a far different story. It was wonderful. Oh yes, it would snow a little but then the sun would come out and in a few days the snow was almost all gone. And this winter has been even better. It’s been so mild that it almost feels like a Northern California winter. I try not to speak to others about how great the weather has been because I’m afraid to jinx it.
I have to face the facts. I got spoiled. It doesn’t matter if it was due to the number of years spent living out west or because I’ve become weaker in my middle age. I am what I am. So my spoiled self and my thin blood will be watching the Punxsutawney Groundhog Cam and praying Phil tells us we’re having an early Spring.