I went for a walk yesterday hoping to cure a bad case of cabin fever. The break in freezing temperatures had me dreaming of springtime as I walked along the slushy trail.
Suddenly, a groundhog with big brown eyes scurried past me. There was nothing so very remarkable in that, nor did I think it was so very much out of the way to hear the groundhog say to itself, “I’m late! I’m late!”
“Whatever are you late for?” I asked the groundhog. He glared at me as if I was stupid and put his short stubby arms on his hips.
“Are you kidding me, lady?” he said gruffly. My blank expression further aggravated him.
“It’s-th Groundhog Day!” he shouted with a lisp due to his very long teeth.
“Oh, I guess it is,” I said. “I’m sorry, but I thought only certain groundhogs participated in the Groundhog Day tradition.”
“Oh boy, here we go,” he said. “I guess-th you’re referring to my crazy Uncle Phil up in Punxsutawney. You know they locked him up, right? Nutty as a th-squirrel that one. Thinks-th he can predict the weather.”
Pretending to jump in fright, he sarcastically mocked, “Oh, I’m th-scared of my shadow! I better go back into my burrow. There’s going to be th-six more weeks of winter!”
Looking at me incredulously his tone changed, “Geez, lady, really?”
Though a little miffed at his attitude, I was intrigued. “But you said yourself that today is Groundhog Day.”
Standing up on his back legs, he took a deep breath and slowly explained, “February th-second is Groundhog Day. It’s the day we groundhogs come out of our burrows to…” he stopped talking and nervously wrung his front paws.
“To…” I urged him to continue.
“To attend the Annual Groundhog Day Dance-th!” he blurted.
“Aw, you’re blushing!” I said. “Anyone special you’re hoping to see?”
“Yes-th,” he said swaying back and forth. “She’s just the th-sweetest, prettiest groundhog I’ve ever th-seen.”
“Well,” I said smoothing a messy tuft of fur on top of his head, “you might not get a second chance, so be nice.”
“Wait just a th-second,” he said disappearing into a hole in the ground. He reappeared proudly wearing a bow tie.
“Perfect,” I said.
“I gotta run, lady. Happy Groundhog Day!” he hollered as he hurried down the trail.
I looked up at the cloudy sky. “Thank goodness,” I muttered, “six more weeks of winter just might have made me a little crazy.” §