I’ll Take the Muskrat

My wife turned on the bedroom TV this morning. For the past month or so, such occasions are few and far between. We watch the pixels come to life peeking warily through the gaps between our fingers. Half-expecting an image of an overnight mushroom cloud. Holding our collective breath until no such cloud image appears during Matt Lauer’s first 30 seconds in our bedroom. 

Instead of End of Days, this morning we got the prognosticating rodent, Punxsutawney Phil. Phil’s weather forecasts once held some meaning for us when we suffered through unbearably long, East Coast winters. Desperate to leave the sidewalk snow banks and biting windchill behind, I’d cling to any hint of imminent relief. “What did he say?! What did he say?! He saw his shadow?! Oh thank God, Winter is almost over!” I don’t remember which is which regarding the causation between shadow-seeing and jet streams. I just remember being so grateful to our woodchuck savior. 

So I guess I had a little bit of this lingering around somewhere in the recesses of my subconscious when NBC streamed the beaver’s shenanigans live this morning. Probably not fair to accuse the hamster of “shenanigans.” I’m sure he is as nonplused and bewildered about this whole thing as I. Still, I found myself straining to hear Phil’s mumbled little answers to the existential questions being posed by a town official wearing a stove pipe hat. I think guinea pigs only appear to be speaking, when in fact they are actually instinctively grinding and sharpening their rodent teeth. I ignored this inconvenient fact, however, convinced that Phil was issuing predictions covering topics far broader than the change of seasons. Pretty sure I even loudly shushed my 5th grader, who had migrated by now to our room en route to the bus stop. He only saw on TV a chubby groundhog surrounded by mostly old people dressed in weird costumes. But I was looking for more. “What’d he just say?! Wait, what?! Shhhh! Damnit, daddy can’t hear what the beaver is saying! Shhhh!” 

So I don’t actually know what ancient wisdom Phil shared with the human race this morning. I suppose, too, that I will search in vain for a transcript of the proceedings. Whatever Phil said, though, I’m sure it was brilliantly prescient. Reassuring, hopefully. Salvation is just over the horizon, or words to that effect. 

Some folks will scour this morning’s papers for clues as to what the future holds. Me? I’ll take the muskrat. 

Thanks for reading. 


  1. You should see the whole “run-up” to Phil being yanked out of his residence (live in PA and have been to Punxsy). People get there well before dawn so the locals feel the need to entertain…blare music while kids dance on stage. Like watching C-SPAN with music. In the dark. In the cold. It is surreal. The movie “Groundhog Day” romanticized this event far, far beyond reality. Since Phil’s been right only half the time in the last 30 years or so he still is more accurate than meteorologists so we still do pay attention. Six more weeks of winter was the verdict. What I’ve never understood is if he sees his shadow it’s more winter. Well…you see your shadow when the sun is out. If it was cloudy and he didn’t see his shadow…that makes more sense to say more winter because the sun isn’t shining. My head hurts. He’ll either be right or not.

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