GROUNDHOGS & THE MIND
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
February 9, 2023
Last week, my children came home from school discussing Pennsylvania’s own Punxsutawney Phil. They informed me the groundhog had seen his shadow as he emerged from his burrow. This meant we’d get six more weeks of winter-weather. Considering this winter has been rather mild, I wasn’t so upset about it. But I couldn’t help wondering why we practice this humorous tradition? And is Phil even accurate? I’m sure someone has been paying attention to Phil’s statistical accuracy.
Groundhog’s Day was brought to America from German immigrants. In Germany, they used other animals for their ritual. But when the Germans immigrated to the U.S., the native groundhog was chosen as the trusted weatherhog. When it comes to the date, February 2nd, it’s the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s a day to remind ourselves that the solitude of winter is coming to an end. The verdant promise of spring is approaching. And life will continue on as magically as it always does. Soon, we’ll be planting seeds and growing gardens. Soon, we’ll be basking in the summer sun.
Are Phil’s weather predictions accurate? According to this article, Punxsutawney Phil is correct about 50 percent of the time. We may as well just roll dice and leave the weather prediction to chance. But as I continued reading the article, I found out there is a competing weatherhog out of Staten Island, NY. His name is Staten Island Chuck. And the NY weatherhog is accurate almost 80 percent of the time.
What Did Chuck Say?
This year, Chuck did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring. So, who’s right? Do we believe the more accurate weatherhog?
This inquiry had me ponder a lovely quote from Carl Jung, “The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”
Maybe we won’t know about the weather until it’s occurring all around us. Maybe we don’t need to know. There will be no right or wrong weatherhog, until five weeks from today. We can’t know until we know. And until we know, let’s just try to enjoy the pendulation of our minds and the journey it takes us on.