Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jim, the Other Groundhog

Wednesday mornings often sneak up on me. When I think about my week, I never seem to adequately plan for them. Luckily, shortly after a brief freak out of "What the heck are we going to do today?!" I was reminded that today was Groundhog Day. After that, the morning practically planned itself.

We got on the internet and learned a factoid or two about groundhogs, the Groundhog Day tradition and a group of old white men in tall hats who think groundhogs have their own language and that they can understand it. I told the kids about how the groundhog may or may not see his shadow and how that will determine the length of winter, more or less. Then we watched last year's video of Punxsutawney Phil deciding the fate of the seasons, since this year's was not yet available.

Would you believe there was no shadow involved?! None! He did not see his shadow. He did not even look for his shadow. There was no talk of shadows at all. You know what there was talk of? There was talk of groundhog language and a man who understands it. I was not making that up. Some guys pulled Phil the Groundhog out of his pretend tree home. One guy looked at him and then decided which scroll to read from: the spring is coming scroll or the six more weeks of winter scroll. What a rip-off! It's not Groundhog Day. It's Old Freaky White Guy in a Tall Hat Talking to Animals Day.

I tried to not let my disappointment determine the tone for the rest of the morning. Instead, we threw together our own Groundhog Day. And our groundhog did see its shadow. (Though it was totally forced. I had said the day was about the groundhog seeing its shadow, so I thought we ought to have it happen. [Also, shadows are a wee bit sciency, and you know how I strive to shove science at my kids.]) And at least one of us did have a conversation with the groundhog. But since that one of us is four years old, I think it's okay.

I present to you: Philadelphia Jim (Fifi chose his name), our groundhog weather forecaster.

Fifi, the announcer, is our own groundhog whisperer.

Jim, our groundhog, chose his scroll according to which direction his head faced.

Turns out Jim made the same prediction Phil did. It could be a coincidence. Or it could mean that groundhogs really are prophetic and that Fifi and that guy from Punxsutawney really can understand them. You be the judge.

Then we took the flashlights out and made some Jim shadows on the wall. 

In the end, our unplanned morning had it all: science, silly holidays, cut paper and glue, and a new family mascot. Hooray for Groundhog Day! Hooray for Jim! And hooray for an early spring!

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