EXTRA! EXTRA! On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, yet winter is still here. Is the fat groundhog lying or is he just another puppet rodent politician, accepting pork barrel offerings of food, shelter, and fame in return for a life of talking big but doing nothing?
After all, predicting six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow is usually a pretty safe bet. Only rarely does the shadow-making monster in the sky fail. But it did this year, leaving Phil’s well-fed flanks exposed to the truth. Even in flyover country, out here in the boonies in places like Deer Lodge, Montana, we’re keenly aware of February 2019’s long string of twenty-four hour snow and subzero nights. It doesn’t have us fired up because we need all available fuel to stay warm until spring, but we are a bit frosted about the whole deal. You’ve heard the battle cry, muttered under countless laboring breaths as residents of all ages wield snow shovels, cluster together to push spinning-tire cars out of dug-in slick spots, or churn through scrambled ruts toward the well-groomed main drags. The words may differ, disguised by euphemisms otherwise known as curse words, but the message is the same:
“IMPEACH PUNXUTAWNEY PHIL! IMPEACH PUNXUTAWNEY PHIL!”
We need term limits for groundhogs. Most groundhogs are born wild and ever-wary, diving down their holes to avoid pesky humans as well as seeking safety from raptors circling overhead or coyote packs on the prowl. That’s the natural order of things, an endless contest between the quick and the dead. Life is often short, bloody, and brutal, but at least it’s free. But there’s nothing natural about ol’ Phil, whose lard-laden arteries may kill him more slowly than carnivorous predators would.
*ALERT!* Our investigators have uncovered whisperings, admittedly unverified so far, that he’s not even a he. Philomena, not Philip. The groundhog himself says he’s neither, that he was neutered as a baby and couldn’t care less about anything but edible nuts, seeds, and grasses. He could care less about old humans dropping dead from heart attacks while shoveling snow or cattle with their calves born in drifts.
“Me, me, me,” the beady-eyed varmint sneered in front of our undercover reporter. “It’s all about me. Life is good.” When shown the following photo of snow in a small Montana town, he didn’t even react. “It’s nothing to do with me. I’ve got my groundhog den and plenty of groundhog chow. That’s all that matters.”
Two local squirrels insist the Power of Punxsutawney is not even a true groundhog but an extremely overgrown gerbil. Mrs. Squirrel reported, “I watched from our tree when they brought him home. I tell you, that P.P. is adopted. They’ve tried to shut us up for years because we know the truth about his birth.”
Unfortunately, the Squirrels are known far and wide as birther conspiracy theorists, either ignored or ridiculed by the mainstream media. One respected journalist told us, “Those Squirrels are nuts.”
But I’m not so sure. A giant gerbil trying to predict the weather like a real groundhog would get it wrong, wouldn’t he?
The furry fellow is unquestionably skilled in one area. He’s a master of pointing a claw at others, shifting blame with the best of them. “Don’t blame the weather on me,” he stated fatly in a recent interview. “Blame it on that evil Christmas song. It’s a regular mantra with you folks. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Millions of humans running around with an offer like that, what did you think was going to happen? I’m going to insist we hold hearings to determine the intent of not only the original songwriter, but the singers who’ve recorded that tune as well, not to mention the giant recording companies. Those record companies are stingy about sharing their wealth, aren’t they? Hah! We need to nationalize those greedy corporations.”
Like any great politician, fat Phil is impressive when it comes to finding excuses. He’s also notably disinterested in sharing his own wealth. The groundhog has three homes, two of which aren’t even in the Punxsutawney voting district he represents.
Meanwhile, out here in the land of the Forgotten Man (which includes wo-man and hu-man and you PC types can go censor your own blogs), it’s still snowing on February 27. The sidewalk from deck to front gate has once again disappeared under the snow. You can’t even see the steps. And the Weather Channel promises at least eight more inches of snow this weekend.
Yesterday was snowy enough. I had to drive the 1970 Impala to Anaconda, a town 25 miles from Deer Lodge, on a number of necessary errands. All four snow tires got a great workout. My driveway sits up a bit from the street, so getting out was no problem, rear-powering through new snow and down the equally snow laden side streets to Deer Lodge’s well groomed main drag. Then to the freeway, which was fine. Even the miles of two lane highway that finish the run into Anaconda were perfectly workable.
Downtown Anaconda, however, was another matter entirely. A little red Chevy got stuck while trying to get back onto the street from the parking lot. A bit of shoveling and human-mule pushing by three men, including me, popped it out of there so the rest of us could move along. A turn at any intersection included plenty of jumbled snow and tested driver skill; I passed more stuck vehicles being pushed by human mules before I made it out of town.
Back home, all went well until it was time to pull into the driveway. Spun out, nose on home turf, rear bumper well out into the street.
Well, foo. But I grew up driving in stuff like this. Half an hour and 180 additional pounds of ballast in the trunk later–the ballast consisting of two extra van tires on rims, each weighing 90 lbs. or more–the car was safely ensconced in its usual parking space.
It was all clean and snowless at that moment. Today, you’d never guess it.
The Grand Groundhog shows no compassion for any of us. “Those who choose to live where winter drops that much snow…they’re nothing but a basket of racist deplorables clinging to their snow blowers and their shovels. Sniffle sniffle, boo hoo,” Phil scolded a group of third graders who dared to ask him about his inaccurate weather prediction. “If your grandparents don’t handle the business end of a shovel as well as they used to, maybe they should move to Arizona or Florida. Or walk out into a storm and be done with it. They’re certainly not contributing to society.”
This was the first recorded speech exposing P. Phil’s disinterest in anything broader in scope than his furry stomach. It casts doubt on the motivation behind the huge rodent’s well known call for free snow blowers for everyone.
*Note:* When asked how he intends to pay for all those snow blowers, the grizzled groundhog invariably changes the subject or spouts a long, rambling diatribe that adds up to a lot of words but no answer to the question asked.
Phil’s handlers attack anyone who dares to doubt the veracity of the fat fumbler, shadow or no shadow. An “anonymous source” tipped them to the fact that I was working on this article. Suspicious and aggressive, after somehow getting an advance peek at the first photos (see above), they posted a scathing Tweet:
A Montana author doubting our Phil intends to show single-view photos. Anyone can pile snow up for a photo op. What about out his back door?
Hey, y’all asked for it. I don’t usually respond to tweets, but here’s the back door view. Enjoy it if you can.
So, is the world’s best-known groundhog a liar, a puppet, or merely misinformed? We vote for puppet; when the Man in Black holds him on high every year for the devoted to admire, you can see how he’s being propped up and manipulated. We also know he’s a liar. He can’t be misinformed; three years ago, a pork barrel spending bill included the addition of a dirt-proof wide screen TV in each of Phil’s lavishly appointed dens…and each TV is permanently tuned to the Weather Channel.
Yep, folks, you read it here first. Like far too many in the United States, fat Phil gets his news and his talking points from watching television. A wild groundhog in Wisconsin who consented to be interviewed had this to say:
“Phil is a huckster. That whole family has produced nothing but con-hogs, from time immemorial. The eagles used to keep their numbers down, pick off most of the young ones in each new generation, but that’s all gone by the wayside now. Man’s interference with Nature has backfired once again and Phils are breeding like crazy. Don’t believe that hoopla about him being neutered. He’s already sired more than a hundred new young Phils and Philettes. The country has gone to the dogs. Or to the city, which is the same thing. He talks eugenics, wants humans culled, while his own brood multiplies like rabbits in Australia.”
The Wisconsin groundhog also has TV in his den, but it’s satellite, not cable. And he insists that his family watch the History Channel and the Animal Channel to stay in balance. “The weather will take care itself,” we were informed, “but our young ones need to know the real world. Phil and his descendants are brainwashed, just not connected to reality. They live in a fantasy world.”
Food for thought.
In the meantime, with continuing snowfall expected to extend right on into March without surcease, I’m also denning up. The pantry is a little short on seeds, nuts, and grasses, but there’s enough other stuff to keep me fed while I wait for spring.
Fed, mind you. Not fat. Even if a few pounds do get added on, they’ll melt away at the business end of a snow shovel. If the snow ever stops falling.
P.S. Of the three vehicles in the driveway, none would be capable of making it to the street without a bit of assistance. Not even the four wheel drive truck could do it unless I chained it up, and while there’s still food in the house, who wants to do that? Besides, I’m not sure where I put the chains.