Warm communication with regarded rodent

January 30, 2014

Dear Punxsutawney Phil:

Hope this letter finds you feeling well, snug in your burrow and slowly rousing from hibernation stupor.

In about 10 days, a frigid nation will turns its eyes to you in anticipation of your Groundhog Day prognostication. Kindly consider these four words of . um, encouragement, courtesy of a bundled-but-badly-in-need-of-seasonal-relief people in Northeastern Pennsylvania: Don’t mess this up.

On Feb. 2, our furry, grub-eating friend, we expect only one phrase to pass from your rodent brain to your handler’s lips.

No shadow.

No shadow.

No shadow.

In the time-honored tradition of things in your quaint Jefferson County community, this proclamation indicates an early arrival to spring.

Ain’t no sun expected during your special reveal this year, not even a ray. Dig it, Chuck?

Not that we aim to spoil your fun. Go ahead with your Gobbler’s Knob pre-dawn party, hobnobbing with your tuxedoed “Inner Circle” crew, plus all those road-tripping college students, Bill Murray disciples and die-hard outdoors types.

Keep in mind, however, plenty of people watching from the crowd, and places far beyond, are counting on you to not disappoint.

We’ve had our fill, Philip, of the polar vortex — whatever that is — and sub-freezing temperatures. We’re sick of seeing the blinking digits on bank thermometers preceded by a negative sign. Our long johns are threadbare, our car batteries have capitulated. Our furnaces seem ready to croak. We crave a break from hot oatmeal breakfasts. Enough nuisance snowfalls. End our suffering.

No more numb fingers. No more nostril tingle.

We need six more weeks of this like you need ice skates.

Try to be reasonable, P. Phil. It’s not as if in early February we suddenly expect to lose all concept of cold: After all, we’ll be fixated on broadcasts of the Winter Olympics and, good grief, an outdoor Super Bowl. But for us non-snowbirds, something’s gotta give — and soon.

Look, whistle-pig, do we have to spell it out for you?

No shadow. Good.

Shadow. Bad. Very, very bad.

Prolonging our collective misery might not, well, let’s say, might not be in your best long-term interests. As you know, Penn’s Woods is full of dangers, predators such as foxes, coyotes, bears and the occasional, death penalty-seeking Ohio prosecutor. Need we mention road kill?

Phil, all we ask is on that all-important Sunday morning at around 7:20 a.m., follow your keen forecasting sense.

And be good to yourself, buddy.

Be good to us all.

Sincerely: Your Luzerne County longtime admirers

P.S. We’ll be watching.

— (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader