Groundhog Day

Each year the United States and Canada observe Groundhog Day on February 2. The rather bizarre holiday stars its namesake: the lowly groundhog.

According to legend, the large ground squirrel possesses mysterious, prognosticating abilities. If the rodent sees his shadow, then he retreats into his burrow in fear, predicting six more weeks of winter. If cloudy weather prevents the furred forecaster from seeing his shadow, then he leaves his lair, signifying the advent of spring.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania hosts the most renowned Groundhog observance in America. The resident rodent known as “Punxsutawney Phil” presides over the affair.  Over 40,000 pilgrims gather for the annual festivities.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta’s General Beauregard Lee resides at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Georgia. The distant-cousin-of-a rat has received two—count them, TWO—honorary doctoral degrees from local institutions. The University of Georgia awarded him a “DWP: Doctor of Weather Prognostication.” Georgia State University honored the General with a “Doctor of Southern Groundology.”

 Authorities disagree about the accuracy of Groundhog Day’s prognostications. Rodent supporters claim that groundhogs possess a 75% to 90% accuracy degree—far exceeding the success rate of their TV colleagues. The folk at the Yellow River Game Ranch assert that General Lee boasts an astonishing 94% success rate.

The National Climatic Data Center reports a more down-to-earth average of 39% accuracy for groundhogs nationwide. One scientist laconically observed that regardless of predictions, spring ALWAYS arrives on March 20 or 21—about six weeks after Groundhog’s Day.

Bill Murray starred in a 1993 movie entitled Groundhog Day. He played an egocentric weather reporter named Phil Connors. His producer assigned the weatherman to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Inexplicably, Connors finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. After a series of misdeeds and misadventures, Phil recognizes that fate has granted him the opportunity to change his life. The movie ends when he . . . well, you need to watch it for yourself!

January 1st inspires people to make New Year’s resolutions. Many of us need a second chance at a second chance. If 01-01 didn’t work for you, then try 02-02. Regardless of sunshine or shadows, it’s never too early or too late to claim God’s power to start anew.

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