Soundtrack in my head: The Specials, “Rudi (A Message To You)”
What if it were so cold that the groundhog decided not to come out at all? Would it mean that he would not see his shadow, and therefore predict an early spring? This question loomed in my mind near the groundhog capitol of the world as we faced weather right around zero degrees Fahrenheit and rather strong winds.
As it turned out, Jimmy the Groundhog did come out. I don’t know if came out on his own accord, was carried out or lured out with “groundhog kibble,” but show up he did, and he saw his shadow.
For you non-Wisconsinite readers, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin is just a few minutes from Madison and the self-titled “Groundhog Capitol of the World,” where Jimmy resides. Of course, before I moved to Wisconsin, I thought that the official groundhog was located in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Silly me. What did I know? I was just a naïve Illinoisan at the time.
Wisconsinites, being the polite people we are, are reluctant to talk about the feud between the groundhog club members in Sun Prairie and the ones in that difficult-to-spell town. But the 1952 Congressional Record records a verbal exchange between the local representatives from the Badger State and the Quaker State over the legitimacy of their respective groundhog days. That same year, a local Pennsylvania newspaper referred to Sun Prairie as “remote two-cow village buried somewhere in the wilderness.” At another point, Sun Prairie groundhog backers said that Punxsutawney club members have “gone underground with that faker groundhog to save face.”
Talking to a few fellow Wisconsinites about it helped set the record straight for me. One woman that I ride the bus with said, “Oh yeah, there’s that other one, right? But ours is the official one and he always gets the predictions right.” Another fellow bus rider said, “Jimmy is the official one, but I guess there’s another one somewhere in, um, Texas I think, right?”
C’mon, this is Wisconsin. Would my fellow bus passengers lie to me?