Groundhog Day

Donít worry. Youíre not having a Bill Murray-esque flashback, destined to relive Punxsutawney Philís moment of glory over and over again until you resolve all of your deep-seated emotional issues and become a better person.

(If that disappoints you, might I suggest renting the 1993 movie. Or counseling.)

I just find the whole thing amusing. That there are people who seem to hang on the edge of their seat each year to hear Philís prediction. When, at least here in Upstate New York, we know that no matter what the mighty seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators and weather prophet extraordinaire says (and I use that term loosely), it would be nothing short of a miracle for us to have only six weeks more weeks of winter before spring arrives.

Heck, we canít even rely on professional meteorologists to tell us what the weather will be like tomorrow with any degree of certainty. Weíre going to start planning our lives around a rodent?

Because, letís face it, thatís what old Phil is. Whether you call him a groundhog, a woodchuck or, God forbid, a whistle-pig or a land-beaver; heís a rodent. Or, more specifically, a type of ground squirrel known as a marmot.

One of my friends refers to him as ďthe rat,Ē and wonders at the fact that so many people actually get up early on a cold winter morning to see such a beast, which in some areas (like Tyner), would be in the crock pot by noon if he was so bold to show his head this time of year.

At the mere suggestion of this, I had one friend offer to go hunting for the pesky varmint and another ante up a recipe for ďManifold Stew.Ē Iím told itís an old family recipe.

Even though I live in Tyner, and have been lobbying - albeit unsuccessfully - for the creation of a Man/Woman from Tyner option on 30 Seconds for some time, thatís not my idea of a wholesome meal.

But whether or not youíre into that kind of thing, I will say this: we here in upstate in New York are a hearty breed. It takes an awful lot of snow and sub-zero temps in at least the double digits to phase most of us.

As evidenced by the teenage girl I saw walking home from school a couple of days ago in shorts. Now, I know it had been about 10 below at my house that morning, and I shuddered to think of the fact that she must have walked to school like that as well.

I said as much to another of my friends. Who kindly reminded me that I had done the same back in our high school days.

Now I donít leave the house without hat, gloves, boots and multiple layers, even on balmy days. When the temperature gets up into the 20s.

Iím not sure if Iím really getting that soft, or if finally, after years of being badgered about bundling up, my parentís words of wisdom have finally sunk in.

My brother Dennis, on the other hand, should have listened a little more closely.

My darling brother fled the bitterly cold North for warmer climes years ago. After a few years basking in the tropical sun in the Florida Keys - in close proximity to my sister Trish - he and his Southern bride relocated to her home state of Tennessee. They now live, with their precious daughter Madison (my goddaughter), in the mountains about 30 or so miles North of Chattanooga.

Their address is in Dunlap, which is a bit deceptive. Considering they live about 10 miles outside of town, approximately 9.9 of which are switchbacks up a mountain.

Dennis loves it. They live on an idyllic little lake on top of said mountain, and it is truly gorgeous. He also loves the fact that they only get a fraction of the snow we get hit with.

Or at least that was the case until last Friday, when they found themselves snowed in. Well, Dennisí wife and daughter were snowed in. He was kind of snowed out - unable to make it home from work up that mountain. (Apparently, Dunlapís highway department could take some pointers from our local boys.)

My darling brother wasnít prepared. No gloves, no boots, only his leather jacket. But he dug deep and tapped into the part of himself he thought heíd left in Chenango County all those years ago.

Leaving his car at the bottom, he started making his way up the mountain on foot. Thankfully, he didnít have to hoof it the whole way up. A kindly redneck passing by - on his 4-wheeler - took pity on him, and transported him a good part of the way up. (Hmmm, I wonder if heíd have liked that manifold stew recipe in exchange. Nah, what am I saying. Heís probably got it already.)

Den did have to go a bit more of the way on foot, but as he got closer to home and found an isolated patch of cell service, he was able to call a neighbor. Who promptly came out on his 4-wheeler to fetch him.

My mother made sympathetic noises when she heard about his little adventure. But I just laughed.

Thatís right, Phil. Itís best to go back to bed. Weíll see you in another couple of months.

Today's Other Stories

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