News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

February 10, 2014

LIZ CIANCONE: Why do we bother that rodent on a cold day?

TERRE HAUTE — I have a bone to pick with Punxsutawney Phil. I may have to get in line or take a number, but I am willing to wait it out.

I suppose I could cope with a disgruntled groundhog, but I think he is in cahoots with Mother Nature. That makes a formidable twosome. Mother nature has been playing weather games with us for the better part of a year and maybe she thinks that dumping some of the blame on an innocent groundhog would get her off the hook?

In a way, I can’t blame Phil. Maybe he demands the respect of his full name — at the least. Would it help if we called him “Punxsutawney Phillip”? Maybe he is as sore as an impacted wisdom tooth to be hauled out of a warm bed for a purpose obscure to him, then lifted aloft in the cold air with cheers and the popping of flash bulbs. I know I struggle some mornings to extract myself from a warm bed. Are groundhogs any less reluctant to be rudely roused before the alarm goes off?

This year Phil gave them a bit of a fight. He managed to squirm out of his tormentor’s arms and made a dash for freedom, or maybe it was a dash to get back into his burrow before his bed had a chance to cool.

However, and for whatever reason, Phil’s annual prognostication wasn’t long in being fulfilled. That’s OK for him. He has no highways to plow or sidewalks to shovel. The snow even adds a bit of insulation to his winter residence. All he has to do, really, is soak up a good rest so that when groundhog nibbles begin to grow again, he will be hungry and primed. A really good, non-interrupted rest, if only they would refrain from interrupting it, and he could pig out in preparation for another winter of hibernation.

The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that Phil is taking the rap for something he has little to do with. Maybe instead of pouncing on Phil for a weather forecast, we should find out where Mother Nature hangs out and prod her out of her lair to see what she has to say for herself. Surely we could do with less of the negative temperatures and polar vortex nonsense and a lot more of the sunshine edging above 32 degrees.

Sorry to have disturbed you, Phil, but before you nod off, please explain why a Pennsylvania groundhog has anything to do with Indiana weather

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to

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