Shadows of February

Pennsylvania is famous for far more important things than hosting the signing of the Declaration of Independence; we have the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawny Phil.

This silly tradition tells of Phil’s ability to predict the late-winter weather, based on the presence of his shadow on February 2nd.

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In reality, the groundhog (also known as a woodchuck) can break hibernation, peek outside his burrow, and — if the sight is not favorable — go back to sleep. Males emerge first. And one of his first tasks is to find a mate.

Due to the groundhog’s dietary selections and his fondness for digging burrows in fields, he is a problem for farmers and gardeners. Trail riders dislike his holes, too, which are dangerous to the long, fragile legs of a horse especially.

Winter will be winter until March 21, no matter what Phil says, but Groundhog Day is still a fun interruption during a time of year when we need a reminder that spring WILL return.

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