February 2, 2010

What? A Groundhog?

The groundhog supposedly saw his shadow today. More winter!

HA! We really haven’t had winter so I’m not certain Phillip (the said groundhog) has a clue about our weather in the Pacific Northwest. Now I know I’ve promised to not talk about the weather so much and while I’ve been good of late, I must regress into bad habits for a minute.

Let’s start with this shadow talisman idea. First, I see my shadow every day and I’m not sure a groundhog has any special soothsaying powers that a Labradoodle doesn’t have, but even if he did, what’s a shadow got to do with winter? I mean, let’s get real folks. When we see our shadow here in Seattle, it’s a good thing. It means all those gray clouds are moving away and maybe, just maybe spring will come early. It certainly doesn’t mean they’ll be more winter, which equals more rain in our area.

Now, if it meant snow, I’d be all over that idea. We haven’t had snow here since last winter and I really miss it. But shadows are no more likely to mean snow than my tail is, so I don’t think Phillip’s shadow predicts anything. Well, maybe it predicts that the sun was at his back. Or maybe it means that he’s way too overfed and needs to get some exercise (are groundhogs really that fat in the wild?).

I also know that the media can make mountains out of molehills or in this instance geysers out of groundhogs, so I decided to take my own informal poll today about shadows. First up, Ollie. “Do you think the groundhog’s shadow is all that special?” I asked him.

Ollie: Well, let’s think about that Rubin. Hey, does Gretchen have a treat in her pocket for me? Wait, let me run around for a second. Okay…uh, what was the question?

Then I asked Gemma.

Gemma: Groundhog, did you say groundhog? You know what, I think I saw one of those in my backyard last night. Man oh man did I want to catch that thing but it crawled up in a tree and I have no idea how to climb a tree. Do you know how to catch a groundhog, Rubin? I know how to catch a ball, but groundhogs are wily rascals and I need to catch me one.  Any tips?

As you can see, they were in a word, shadow-struck in their own way. So I had Gretchen ask Rosie.

Rosie: Yep, I have a shadow. Everything has shadows. Sometimes shadows scare me, but when I realize it’s my own shadow, I kind of have to laugh at myself and look at Gretchen for a reassuring treat. Maybe the groundhog is scared of his shadow like I am and he just needs some food to comfort him?

Rosie is wise, I think. Maybe to get Phillip out of his hole they coax him with yummies and I for one know that being coaxed with yummies throws the whole prediction of behavior way off!

At first, when I thought of asking Saber I decided against it. He’s pretty young, you know, and I’m not sure he’s ready for such a philosophical question at such a young age, but then, after we walked around through the parks and posed on the warm bench…

…I decided I’d ask him. “Hey, Saber, my young friend, do you think the groundhog can really predict the length of a season by looking at his shadow?”

By this time, we were at the tennis courts, and this was Saber’s response…

…yep, he slammed into me again and again and again all the while saying, “Shadow Boxer strikes again!”

Later, though, he had this response…

Saber: Rubin every day is a good day, shadows or no shadows. There’s plenty of food, lots of treats, all sorts of loving hands to rub our bellies, warm beds to sleep on, toys coming out our ears, and good, good friends to slam into. Who cares if all that happens in winter or summer or…what are the other ones called? Sprung? Fallen? Whatever. Life is good.

The more I thought about, the more I realized Saber is right. Life is good and while I have the utmost respect for Phillip and the job he’s called upon to do, every season offers me something different, but all those different things are amazing and wonderful — shadows or no shadows!

Good luck, Phillip. I hope they free you from this futile ritual soon!

Until tomorrow,


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