Groundhog Day – The Last Fairy Tale To Die

It’s Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day was one of the last, if not the last fairy tale to die in my younger days.

Long after Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy had been exposed as frauds, I still clung to Groundhog Day.

My main beliefs about Groundhog Day really weren’t passed down to me by my parents or my grandparents although they never did anything to deter my belief in the myth.

It was my own naïve, country boy view of the world that I never shared with anyone until I was much older.    When I still believed in the myth of Groundhog Day and his weather prognostication abilities no one really talked about it so I just thought everyone believed as I did.  Then when I realized just how wrong I was about it I may have been too embarrassed to tell anyone.  But as you get older you just don’t care what others think.

I didn’t grow up in the days of instant information.

When I was a kid TV news didn’t have live remote feeds for any news story.  Someone had to go out on location and film the news, develop it, edit it and put it together for broadcast.  Video tape did come into play but that also required lots of prep work prior to broadcasting.

So the news reporting for Groundhog Day was just the news anchor telling some whimsical story about the rodent seeing or not seeing its shadow and what that meant for the rest of the winter.

News print stories were just words, no pictures.  Just like TV the newspapers had to send out a photographer along with a reporter. They have to come back and develop the film and put together the story.

Both print and broadcast media weren’t going to blow their budgets on the Groundhog Day Story unless you lived in Punxsutawney PA.

Groundhog Day and all its mythology was left up to your imagination.

I grew up in farm country.  Groundhogs and groundhog holes were just a part of the landscape.  They were in the fields, by the barns, by your house and always along the road both alive and dead.

So here is what I conjured up in my head about Groundhog Day.

Someone, I don’t know who because I never met anyone who did this, maybe just some patriotic, concerned citizen would find a groundhog hole in the area.  Not farfetched since they were everywhere.

Then either on the night of February 1st or very early on the morning of February 2nd they would stealthily sneak up to the hole with binoculars in hand along with pad and pen and they would wait.

They would wait for the groundhog to emerge from its hole as it was suppose to do every February 2nd.

When it did they would record their findings and then quickly scurry to the nearest phone to contact the newspaper and TV station to report what they had observed.  Based on these observations the weathermen at the station would make the determination, early spring or six more weeks of winter.

It was all very scientific and to me very legit.

Never mind that spring was exactly 6 weeks away on the calendar; this was good old fashion weather prognostication.  And never mind that it was cloudy when I got up that day, somehow the groundhog saw its shadow.  Maybe the sun peaked through the clouds at that location just as it was emerging from its long winter’s slumber.

I don’t remember when I first saw what actually happens in Punxsutawney or when I found out that the one they used in my hometown was actually dead and stuffed.  But I do know that a piece of my youth was taken away the day I realized that Groundhog Day was just another excuse for people to party and try to break up the malaise of winter.

I think the world would be a better place if they used the perception I had of Groundhog Day when I was young.

At least it was honest for me.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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