News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 19, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Keeping eye out for signs of spring

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The problem with expecting a groundhog to predict the arrival of spring is that there are groundhogs scattered all over the country. The Pennsylvania groundhog may not see the same kind of weather as the groundhog out here in Dobbs Park. In this way, false hopes are roused and the groundhog loses credibility as a meteorologist.

This year especially it seems as if the groundhogs must have blinked at a crucial time. Our “spring” weather has gone up and down like the stock market, or maybe like the approval rating of Congress. But, believe it or not, there are signs that spring is on the way.

A pair of ducks, he and she, have been appearing every morning on the pond behind our place. Some mornings they don’t even have to break through a thin film of ice to do their cruising. I did see a goose out there the other morning, although maybe it was a mere scout sent to case the territory before the arrival of the entire flight.

For what it’s worth, the blue heron which hung around all last summer has not yet made a seasonal debut.

I’ve seen robins, too. Some of them look hopelessly confused. I suspect those red breasts are more a case of being chapped than anything else. I hope they didn’t take the groundhog forecast as gospel.

The most obvious sign that warmer weather is on the way is that sports magazines are beginning to feature baseball. Coverage of basketball is tapering off, and the Cubs played a couple of pre-season games this past weekend. Of course, they played in Mesa, Ariz.

Seeing the Cubbies has brought a smile and a spring to the step of my Best Friend. I hope that a permanent smile and spring is not far in the future.

Hockey, of course, will go on until the ice melts and football gurus are meeting behind closed doors to discuss trading players and firing of coaches. This should carry us into fall and winter again.

Do groundhogs also predict an early autumn or give us a hint about the severity of the coming winter?

I have no idea, but if the Dobbs Park groundhog heads for his den early, I’m going to order long underwear.

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