We have all heard of Groundhog Day, but do you know who the furry forecaster who rules the day really is? We would like to introduce you to Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.
Phil is a resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and the groundhog in charge of telling us how long winter will wear on, or conversely, when spring will finally bloom. How does Phil make these extraordinary forecasts you ask? It’s simple — if he sees his shadow on the morning of February 2, we are in for six more long weeks of winter. If not, let the celebration begin as spring is coming early! It is important to note that Phill’s predictions are always correct, they are just sometimes misinterpreted by us mere humans.
Legend is there is only one Punxsutawney Phil who has been making predictions since 1886. Phil gets his longevity from drinking the “elixir of life,” a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip of this secret sauce every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life (a hedgehog’s normal lifespan in the wild is approximately seven years).
Since Phil officially works only one day a year, he spends the other 364 days in Phil’s Burrow, a warm terrarium built into the Punxsutawney library. The wall that faces the outside is made of glass, so visitors can pay their respects and see Phil relaxing on his days off – usually a chubby, snoring heap, sprawled upside down.
Besides being a so-called immortal meteorologist, Phil lives his life as a normal groundhog. According to Ron Ploucha, Stump Warden of the Inner Circle of the Groundhog Club and co-handler of Phil, oat and honey granola bars are Phil’s favorite food – in particular the nature valley ones. Outside of his favorite treats, Phil revels in laying on his back like other groundhogs, and spending time with his little groundhog wife, Phyllis.
Whether or not Phil predicts an early Spring, we are happy this sweet, little groundhog gets to live such a grand life.
Interested in learning more about groundhogs? Check out this fact sheet from National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/groundhog/.