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Groundhog conundrum
Kansas winters are bipolar
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We all know how to complete the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather ...”
It’s been said so often, by so many, that we tend to say, “If you don’t like the weather in Kansas, wait five minutes” (or, “wait a minute,” or sometimes “wait a day”). Whether it was first uttered by Mark Twain about New England, or Will Rogers about Oklahoma, or someone unknown cave dweller in another era, we know the phrase applies to Kansas.
It is most apparent in the winter, when the daily temperatures swing between sub-zero and the low 80s. No wonder the weather prognosticating groundhogs often predict six more weeks of winter and duck back into their holes. For 2015, groundhogs in various parts of the country came up with different forecasts. The most famous one, Punxsutawney Phil, said spring is still six weeks away in Pennsylvania.
According to the official Groundhog Day website (www.groundhog.org), the holiday celebrated on Feb. 2 in the United States has European roots that date to the distant past. “It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow. If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.”
Early Christians had a similar tradition on Candlemas Day, which is also observed on Feb. 2 in the dead of winter.
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
Somehow, it became the responsibility of a rodent to determine whether it was bright or cloudy, based on whether or not it cast a shadow.
Now then, groundhog forgotten (except for the 54th annual Groundhog and Pancake Supper, which will be held this Saturday in Claflin), winter will continue for another five to six weeks. Expect an occasional sunny day, but know that winter hasn’t left us.