Gary the groundhog makes a bargain
Gary the groundhog didn’t know what all the fuss was about. He didn’t even know his name was Gary. But he loved the attention showered on him once a year when a crowd of humans showed up outside his enclosure pointing fingers and funny box-things at him. They also brought treats.
He didn’t know that the day on which they arrived was named Groundhog Day, or that humans predicted how long winter would last based on whether or not he saw his shadow. If he had known, and, of course, if groundhogs could laugh, he’d have done so.
No, Gary only knew that very occasionally humans other than those who regularly saw to his needs would come and make a fuss over him and feed him treats. This time, he had a treat for them.
Gary’s friend, whom he thought of as food bringer, had taught Gary a trick. Gary didn’t think of it as a trick. He saw it for what it was—a bargain. When Gary emerged from his underground lair, he made a show of rising up on his back paws and looking underneath him. On sunny days, he saw his shadow. When it was cloudy, he didn’t.
But it didn’t matter what he saw, Gary always turned and waved to food bringer, who would then fulfil his end of the bargain, delivering delectable food to the groundhog. Today, there was a larger audience and more treats to be had.
Gary made a show of it. He had held off on the final flourish that food bringer had tried to get him to add until this very moment. He rose up on his hind paws, looked to the ground below, and, seeing his shadow, raised his paws high in the air as he turned to face the gathered crowd.
Gary didn’t know that he was doing a victory pose. He didn’t know that the shadow wasn’t the result the humans had hoped for. But he knew what a cheer meant. Dropping back onto all four paws, he waddled over to the fence and accepted his due from his admiring fans.
Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray, is one of my favorite movies. It’s also one of my favorite days of the year—my daughter was born on Groundhog Day. Tonight we’ll share a special dinner—our own treat, if you will, for our once a year celebration. And I won’t even make her check to see if she sees her shadow to determine how much long winter will last!
Have a great Groundhog Day, everyone!