Punxsutawney Phil, Top Hats & the Weather


UPDATE: Phil was named the Honorary Coin Tosser for the 2017 Puppy Bowl! Phil and his friends looked pretty chill and happy to be there. Great job Phil!

For those who are curious about the coin toss, it was tails.

Groundhog being held aloft by man in top hat

Phil and Friend

Punxsutawney Phil is a local legend where I come from. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is in the local television market, so we get live updates from Gobbler’s Nob. They even break into national programming to bring Phil, his friends, and the prediction as it happens. I’ve known a lot of people who spend February 2nd in the freezing cold waiting for the rodent to get drug out of his little temporary home. There may be large amounts of alcohol involved as well. I’ve never been there so I won’t incriminate those who’d like to remain innocent, or can’t remember for sure that they were there.

Guys in top hats with Punxsy Phil

Phil and his Inner Circle

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Punxsutawney Phil is the name used by a long line of groundhogs who live a pampered life in the Punxsutawney Library. In exchange for the luxurious room and board “Phil” puts up with people tapping on the window to his enclosure, conjugal visits from his “wife” Phyllis, makes public appearances throughout the year with a group of guys in top hats, and in the early morning hours of February 2nd every year he gets pulled out of a lovely heated manmade tree stump, held up in front of a screaming mass of people and bright lights in order for a guy in a top hat with an old stick to “talk” groundhog-ease with him and tell the world whether the furry little guy has seen his shadow.

groundhog20day20livestreamI don’t have anything against Phil. I mean he was great in Bill Murray’s movie. He’s a local hero for Pete’s sake! I just feel bad for the poor guy. Obviously, he is not a morning person…er…groundhog. I mean the Inner Circle has to wear heavy gloves on February 2nd because Phil has taken a chunk out of the hand or more than one of them. They usually have a hard time getting him out of the nice warm, dark burrow that they put him in on the stage. He usually glares at the camera when they pull him out. Put it all together and I would say Phil is not all that happy when sunrise rolls around.

29906170001_5307778419001_5307762324001-vsThis year Dear Old Phil saw his shadow, which means we can expect 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow spring is supposed to be right around the corner. People have questioned his accuracy over the years. He’s a groundhog. It’s not like the guy’s in the library window studying weather maps. What do you expect?

Here’s my take on Punxsutawney Phil – if he sees his shadow it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will be in six weeks. Which is probably a more accurate description of what happens.

2016-02-02t14-02-14-133z-1280x720-today-vid-canonical-featured-desktopOf course, where I lived growing up we had Phil’s cousin – Tire Hill Ted. He usually contradicted Phil out of spite. I’m not going to guess at the family dynamics, I just hope that in today’s political climate the two can put aside their differences and find agreement on travel restrictions for groundhogs.

Whether we get six more weeks of winter or spring arrives in six weeks, we all know one thing for sure – Punxsutawney Phil is best weather rodent in the world.


Sorry About the Weather, It’s My Fault

An Adirondack chair under a grape arbor in the snow

Ice, snow and freezing temperatures are all part of my birthday tradition.

The weather is really awful for most of the U.S. today, and I take full responsibility for it. If you go back through history you’ll see a long line of snow and ice storms and mind numbing cold temperatures on January 28th (plus or minus about 5 days). I can confirm this phenomenon has gone on since the 1970’s. How do I know? It’s my birthday.

I was born during a deep freeze, just after a snow storm. As a kid nearly every one of my birthday parties was rescheduled at least once because of the weather. One party wasn’t held until March because a pipe burst at the restaurant and there was major damage.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But it’s the end of January ~ of course the weather’s going to be bad!” You have a point. But, if we were to schedule a birthday get-together two weeks after my actual birthday, the weather will be bad that day too. I have years of facts to back me up on this.

So I apologize for any inconvenience I’ve caused. Trust me, I would put an end to this craziness if I could. The best I can do is hope you all stay safe and warm.

On a slightly related note, one year ago today I said I was looking at making some changes. Then things changed a hell of a lot more than I planned. They aren’t done yet, but I think I’ve got a little better idea where they’re going. Thanks to all of those who’ve hung around over the last year. Stick around to see what happens next.