Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The groundhog’s shadow knows.
And all will be revealed on Sunday at Gobbler’s Knob, when the current incarnation of Punxsutawney Phil imparts his annual prophecy for the next month-and-a-half weather-wise. I was wondering, maybe he could be a she. I mean, why not Punxsutawney Phyllis? You know, every other year like they do with hurricanes?
That’s something to ponder in this day and age.
Life has certainly gotten to be perplexing enough these days, but I usually find myself concerned not with the big, but rather little picture; the little questions. In addition to questioning the gender of the celebrity groundhog, I’m asking:
If 21 is pronounced “twenty-one,” why isn’t 11 pronounced “onety-one?”
Why are they called buildings, when they're already finished? Shouldn't they be called builts?
Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?
What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
Why do we say something is out of whack? Can something be in whack? What’s a whack?
And finally, why don’t we observe Woodchuck Day instead?
Not to give away any spoilers but we’re two weeks away from Valentine’s Day and true to form, it falls right in the middle of the cold and flu season. No kissing, please, unless you think true love is sharing a runny nose.
On the other hand, the couple that sneezes together stays together. I mean, you can be “God blessing” each other back and forth till death do you part, so to speak, and you will be keeping each other from getting The Plague to boot. This whole “bless you-thank you” custom is a throwback to Pope Gregory, who, in the sixth century encouraged the requesting of this divine intervention, since sneezing was often the first sign that somebody was coming down with The Plague.
When it comes down to it, from what I’ve gathered over the years, sneezing is socially acceptable, whereas the blowing of one’s nose is downright messy and can be risky besides - if performed in public. Maybe that’s why you never see people on TV talk shows blow their nose. It’s personal and should be performed with the utmost discretion. But much too often, the blow you think will be modest and fairly unnoticeable, will come out like the honk of a goose causing the person across the room to jump in their seat. But when you gotta’ do it, you gotta’ do it. Unless you’re a six-year-old boy and take care of business on your shirt sleeve.
Anyway, I suppose some of us who aren’t watching the Super Bowl will be re-visiting the movie with Bill Murray, where he has to live multiple - nay, thousands - Groundhog Days in a row before he learns to be a decent human being. Kind of like an extra-long episode of the Twilight Zone.
In any case, Groundhog Day (astronomically known as cross-quarter day) is always right around the time of the Chinese New Year, which was last Friday but they’ll be celebrating it through next week. It always begins on the new moon that falls between Jan. 21 January and Feb. 20 but it’s much more complicated than that. The main thing is, the festivities and parties go on for two whole weeks, which makes me start thinking about switching from the Gregorian to the Lunar calendar.
This time around they’re ringing in the Year of the Rat, the first of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. It’s said that those born in the Year of the Rat are said to be ambitious and sincere, and to be generous with money. If you were born in say, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984 or 1996, we’re talking about you.
The Chinese zodiac is much like the western astrology we’re familiar with, but for my money the story behind it is much more fun.
According to the chinesenewyear.net website, legend holds that “the Jade Emperor needed to choose 12 animals as palace guards. The Cat asked his neighbor Rat to help him sign up. Rat forgot, which is why they became mortal enemies.
“At the palace, Ox was first in line, but Rat secretly climbed onto Ox's back and jumped in front of him. Tiger and Dragon thought it was unfair, but they could only settle behind Ox. Rabbit found it unfair too. He wanted to race with Dragon and succeeded.
“This angered Dog, who bit Rabbit in a fit and was sent to the back as punishment. Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey and Rooster fought amongst themselves as well. Pig came late, after everything was finally settled, and could only be the last.”
But where does the groundhog fit in? And how much wood could he chuck if he could chuck wood?
Hmm. I never thought February could be this exciting.