Leave It to Bucky and Phil

Published 3:53 pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Wednesday, the month of February will march to the forefront of our calendars and the following day we'll be at Bucky's mercy. You remember Bucky, Bucky Ham, that resident Buckingham County groundhog who claims to be a third cousin of Punxsutawney Phil. Of course you know him. He's the sneaky little critter that takes full credit for the precarious lean of the goat shed and spends his summers attacking vine-ripened tomatoes with the fury of a weed-wacker.

Yep, on Groundhog Day, we'll see if Bucky has had enough of winter, even though it hasn't been that rough, weather-wise. But it is LEAP Year and with that solar flare-up thing going on, who knows what that rascally varmint will do. Can't help but wonder if we'll have six more weeks of winter or won't we?

But wait, if you look at the calendar, Groundhog Day is always six weeks before the first day of spring-that venerable day of the vernal equinox when the whole world experiences 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. Yep, when that equi noxes, spring springs on the northern hemisphere while our more southern counterparts fall for the autumnal equinox. And trust me folks, even if I do favor the side of the brain that has nothing to do with science or math, an equinox is not an arbitrary thing-it happens for astronomical reasons not furry ones.

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What's my point? Well, even if Bucky doesn't see his shadow and decides to stay above ground, my calendar shows that spring begins on March 20, which is, as previously noted, six weeks away.

So what does that mean for Punxsutawney Phil and all those other notable oversized-ground squirrels who are pampered with heated dens and dishes of dog food so that they will perform their seasonal forecast on February 2? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Trust me, Groundhog Day will continue. It will go on and on and on. If you don't believe me, watch the movie, again.

After all, what better holiday is there than Groundhog Day? For years, I have proclaimed the day as my favorite. There are no cards to send, no gifts to buy, no decors to rate. The house doesn't need to be cleaned. Well, okay, it always needs cleaning, but there's no need for frantic late-night dust-bunny showdowns or web searches. And, cooking on GH Day doesn't take a master chef nor do I have to worry about giblets and gravy. Actually, a sub supper might be appropriate.

For me, Groundhog Day is a day to sit back with a mug of cocoa and a garden catalogue and sow a few seeds of hope. However, if you really want to dig the day, there's still time to make plans for a trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where Phil became a star way back in 1887, when folks made that first official trek to Gobbler's Knob.

There, you can spend a week celebrating Phil's annual prognostication with other GH Day enthusiasts. Moreover, for several days before and after the BIG DAY, there are numerous activities honoring Phil and his fellow fuzzy marmots.

Festivities include Vendors in the Park, the Groundhog Day Chili and Wing Cook Off, the Ground Hog Day Banquet, hayride tours of Punxsutawney, chainsaw carving, Groundhog Bingo, music, magic shows, and an exhibit of Phantastic Phil Sculptures. Yes, really.

On the Eve of GH Day, you can head to the Punxsy Community Center for the Crash Pad, where you can spend the night for $5, as long as you bring a sleeping bag and pillow. And, at 11 p.m., there will be a free showing of Ground Hog Day, the movie.

On Thursday morning, shuttle buses will start hauling folks to Gobblers Knob at 3 p.m. Then, after Phil makes his official prognostication, which usually occurs between 6:30 and 7 a.m., there will be the Groundhog Day Buffet Breakfast, the crowning of Little Miss and Mr. Groundhog Day, and the Best Dressed Ground Hog Day Dog Competition.

For those who would like to tie the knot, making the day even more memorable, Punxsutawney Mayor Wehrle will be performing wedding ceremonies at Phil's Wedding Chapel. Festivities conclude on Saturday, February 4, with the Rails to Trails Benefit Dance. And, if you think all of this sounds too cool to be true, check it out at www.groundhog.org.

Although it sounds somewhat inviting, I think I'd prefer to celebrate the day with that seed catalogue. Besides, why should we revere an animal that is afraid of his own shadow? But, I can't help but wonder-reckon there's any chance we'll have an early spring? KNOTT MUCH.