Monday, 2 February 2009

It's Groundhog's Day!


Happy Groundhog's Day!

Don't you just LOVE this day? What could be better on a gloomy winter's day than to celebrate the passing of seasons with a furry little creature? In this case, a weather-predicting groundhog!

I love the folklore associated with this day, and would love to see its status elevated to that of a National Holiday, if anyone would just agree with me!
I know many of the enlightened readers of this space will be familiar with the movie, Groundhog's Day, with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, but how many of them have actually gone to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for a personal visit with Phil the groundhog?

Many years ago, on a dark February night, I packed the van (people carrier) with blankets, pillows, snacks, and beverages, in preparation for the long journey from Buffalo, NY, to Punxsutawney, PA.
I didn't get much sleep that night, more due to excitement than anything else, and 'woke' at about midnight to ready the coffee and to wake my sleeping children.
They were allowed to remain in their pajamas during the long evening's ride, but had a change of clothing in the car, so they would be warm and properly dressed when we arrived at our destination.

Off we went on a road trip that took us driving around mountains in the dark while huge semi trucks passed us in a very scary way! There was no TomTom in those days so we were on our own with map-reading and sign-following.
Of course, the children were really small, and fell asleep quickly when we began the drive, so it was really me alone in the 'cockpit', saying a prayer that the roads ahead in Pennsylvania, would be kind to us.

After what seemed to take forever, we found ourselves in the usually sleepy little town, that was abuzz with the excitement of the day. Cars and people were everywhere and we soon found our way to a parking lot where we waited for a bus to take us up to Gobbler's Knob, the site where Punxsutawney Phil would be waiting to announce how much longer winter would last.
On the bus we were riding, the people who had come the furthest for the event, was a couple from Hawaii, followed by another from New England.
The ride was not that long, we were suddenly deposited in just about the coldest place on earth, aside from the Antarctic!

Yes, it was at the top of a barren hill without much in the way of trees, or anything else there, to protect us from the bitter wind. The few trees that were present, seemed to be full of partying college students, who had spent the night there waiting for the big event. I think only blood-filled with alcohol kept the from freezing to death!
We, with feet standing on solid ground, quickly discovered that the ground was frozen solid with ice, and it didn't take long for us all to be chilled to the bone.

But we had timed everything perfectly so it wasn't long before we saw our little furry friend in the 'flesh'. How fun it was to bear witness to Phil as he 'spoke' to his handler and then to hear his proclamation read aloud! My children were in awe and if I am honest, so was I.
It was so pure and simple and fun.

We remained behind as the crowds began leaving, even though we were frozen almost as solid as the ice beneath our feet, and waited patiently for our turn to give Phil a bit of love.
We were allowed to go right up to the stage and pet Phil while his handler held on tightly to him.
He never even gave a nip - he was that gentle.

We made our way back to our shuttle bus, and then back to town, where we enjoyed a late breakfast in a small diner in town. We left the diner's bakery, with a dozen or so cut-out butter cookies, featuring none other than our hero, Phil. He was quite attentive in a standing position, covered in frosting, and seemingly not minding a bit. Of course, we had to also purchase a cookie cutter, too, in order to make more for those years when we would not be able to return to Punxsutawney, but needed a bit of a reminder of our fun day there with Phil.

And tonight, my son called me from North Carolina, to wish me a Happy Groundhog's Day.

His call reminded me that the special moments we create with our children are held close to their hearts, no matter how old they grow to be.

3 comments:

paperhill said...

hi maggie, lovely post, sweet reminder for me to hang on tight to these days. i hope you are well. all is fine here just freezing :) that darn groundhog! hugs, susan

natalie jo said...

What a great adventure you took your kids on and how brave you were to make that car ride in the middle of the night! Well worth it though considering how fond the memory of it remains for you and your children. I love that your son called to wish you Happy Groundhog Day...what a dear!

Fondly,
natalie jo

katiegraczyk said...

I remember it well, even if I was the youngest. Its one of my favorite things we did and I'll do with my little Tiereek someday too! xoxo