Saturday, February 2, 2013

Punxsutawney Possum

I am a native Pennsylvanian. On this day, I seek out the best "reasonable facsimile" of a groundhog I can find in Boston. Which is difficult. When I locate a likely prospect, I awaken it, seize it, heave its furry carcass into my arms, and stagger to a window, where I deposit it. Then I wait as it grumpily looks for its shadow.

All this transpires to the raucous strains of "The Pennsylvania Polka," as performed by Frank (we locals call him "Frankie") Yankovic. This is the song that startled you in that sublime film Groundhog Day.  We Pennsylvanians had already heard it too many times before the movie immortalized it:


As you can see, Punxsutawney Possum was not pleased by any aspect of the experience — he particularly objected to being subjected to a few polka steps with me while in transport. But he did observe his shadow:


But we are not in Pennsylvania, and he is not a true Marmota monax, so the significance of Possum's discovery is open to interpretation. I asked him what he thought it meant: "Six weeks of what, Possum?" 

He produced one of his imperious, dirty looks and stalked off to resume his interrupted hibernation. 

So that leaves it to me:
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Boston and basking in the of warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous series of Crumbs cupcakes. 

That's 42 cupcakes by my calculations. Good heavens.

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