Poets' Corner: Feela For Groundhog's Day

Annual Groundhog's Day Ritual Held In Punxsutawney, PennsylvaniaHere’s one for all you trivia buffs.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club was established the late 19th century: 1887 to be exact. Say what, you say? Get out of your hole. That is the fraternity dedicated to the only true weather forecasting groundhog on the planet, Punxsutawney Phil. All the others are mere impostors. Tomorrow (well, in one hour) on February 2, which also happens to be Super Bowl Sunday, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob and in front of thousands of faithful followers from all over the globe, he predicts the weather for the rest of the winter. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.

 Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob made on February 2, 1887.

Regular TIO contributor David Feela is a retired teacher, poet, free-lance writer, and workshop instructor. His writing has appeared in hundreds of regional and national publications since 1974, including High Country News, Mountain Gazette, Denver Post, Utne Reader, Yankee, Third Wednesday, and Pennsylvania Review, as well as in over a dozen anthologies. Feela’ penned this one for good ol’ Phil. 

More winter? Early spring? Ptooey. What’s Phil’s prediction about the game?

Shadows Heard, Not Seen
Sun or shade, the groundhog
wakes wide-eyed from a state
of hibernation as early as January,
rolls over in its burrow and listens
to the dark sounds overhead.

A fox stalks a pheasant through brush,
two deer flinch as the wind
knocks snow loose from a limb
and the owl’s head pivots
like a latch, unlocking its wings.

If a shadow could be heard
it might sound like a shovel against
frozen earth, white with its timpani of thrusts
until the unyielding surface
shatters and surrenders to the light.

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