Happy Groundhog Day!! Today is a day full of speculation as to the remaining will of Old Man Winter. Will he continue to be relentless with his anger, trapping people in their homes with 6ft high snow drifts with resulting power outages? Or will he put away his snow, ice, and frigid temperatures to allow Mother Nature her chance to bring life back to the world in the beautiful season known as Spring?
Every year, crowds gather on Gobbler’s Hill in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to see Phil the Groundhog. The belief is rooted in the German legend that if [a hibernating animal such as] the groundhog does NOT see his shadow, Spring is on its way to end the grueling winter. However, if he DOES, another grueling 6 weeks of winter are sure to follow.
Much to the relief of those weary from the seemingly never-to-end snowstorms of the 2010-2011 winter season (including the most recent Snowpocalypse 2011), Phil was reported to have seen his shadow, signaling winter quickly drawing to a close.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know how much trust I have in predictions that come from an animal being held up in the air like Simba on The Lion King and examined like a sun dial. Not to mention the fact that while Phil is certainly the most famous (thanks to the 1993 movie Groundhog Day being set in Punxsutawney), he is not the only weatherman making predictions. So far for 2011, 4 out of 5 groundhogs have called for an early spring. However, last year 13 out of 22 called for an early spring, and I’m sure we all can recall the ridiculous weeks of winter that followed Groundhogs Day 2010.
Personally, I will continue to put my trust in The Farmer’s Almanac, who rarely steers me astray. So far for 2011, its prediction rates have been astounding. It was even dead on in predicting the dates of a major blizzard on Feb 1-3 (Snowpocalypse, anyone?). Now, some of you may be wondering why I am so trusting of a book written months in advance. Sometimes, I wonder the same thing. It seems silly, right? But what this issue of trust (why an inanimate object over an ancient legend pertaining to a living creature) led me to consider is the concept of trust in general.
First of all, what is ‘trust’? What does it mean to ‘trust someone or something? According to every dictionary I consulted (and I went to multiple to ensure consistency), trust is reliance on the integrity or surety of another person or object. The confidence of expectation that trust produces is not something I come about easily. Trusting another requires a vulnerability that makes me nervous. Putting myself on the line for others is not something that comes naturally to me. My expectations are too high, causing me to be left disappointed by the mere human qualities I see around me. I know it is a dangerous thing, to expect humans to be anything other than human. The few who gain my trust are lucky indeed.
Farmer’s Almanac, I’m not sure what you have done to gain my trust, other than be consistent in your accuracy, but I applaud you. I will stick up for you even when everyone has turned against you for a short, solitary hunchback who weakly hides beneath the ground until Spring. When the wood runs out, and the woodchuck comes looking for something else to chuck, I will guard you. Have no fear.