News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

March 26, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Rising up to defend the poor groundhog

I read in the newspaper the other morning that Punxsatawney Phil is being hauled into court and charged with falsely predicting an early spring. I am volunteering my services as counsel for the defense.

Of course, I do not have a law degree, but I am convinced that Phil has a good case and I have been told that I have a lot of common sense, so I think Phil and I will prevail.

As Phil told his story to me — and it is enough to make a grown woman weep — he has no idea what this suit is all about.

“There I was,” he said, “curled up in my boudoir only a few weeks into winter with my schedule of winter zzz’s. I didn’t hear an alarm clock. No one rang the breakfast bell. The first thing I knew, someone grabbed me by the back of my neck and hauled me out of bed.”

Phil was still a bit vague about it all when I talked with him. He did say how much he resented being hauled out of a warm sack and dragged out of his burrow and was almost positive he had not overslept.

“Shucks,” he said, “it wasn’t even full daylight. Before I could ask what was going on, some guy in a black silk hat hoisted me over his head. Flashbulbs went off and I closed my ears to the noise and my eyes to the glare of those flashing lights.”

“Go on, Phil,” I urged while making a few notes for future reference.

“I didn’t see a darned thing,” Phil continued. “I didn’t see my shadow, but of course I did not NOT see my shadow either. All I can remember is that the old guy holding me shouted, ‘Phil predicts an early spring,’ and a cheer went up.

“When the old guy shoved me back into my den, heck, the sheets were still warm, and I went back to sleep.”

“So, Phil,” I asked, “do I understand that you did not predict an early spring?”

“I didn’t say a word about anything,” he said. “All I did was squirm a little when the old guy tickled my belly. When he put me down I pulled up the covers and tried to forget the whole miserable morning.”

Phil claims he made no promises about an early spring or anything else. He insists the old guy is bearing false witness.

Phil, and I, rest his case.

Liz Ciancone is a retired

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