Friday, February 05, 2021


 Twas the day before Groundhog

and up and down the block

I was going for a run

not just a walk

I met a neighbor, which is where the poetry stops. We were conspicuously avoiding the topic of politics, since I know how red he tends to lean. Instead we talked briefly of the Denver Broncos' disappointing season because it was a shared bond. 

Then he asked me if I was ready for the rain. For the past week or so, local forecasters had been predicting torrential storms that would cause flooding, power outages, and maybe even insurrection. Okay, maybe not that last part, but we were being prepared for a deluge. And I suppose, by comparison, that is what we got. This winter has been pretty dry, and so the advent of any precipitation was worth celebrating. Or fearing. I told my neighbor, with a roll of my eyes, that I was sure that we would welcome the moisture because that is the refrain my mother taught me. I did let on that I was not expecting a monsoon.

That's when my neighbor dropped some knowledge on my noggin. He said that he had studied meteorology in anticipation of a pilot's license, and let me know just how difficult it is to forecast the weather on the left coast, especially the Bay Area. Fronts don't organize as neatly over the vast Pacific Ocean the way they do as they make their way across the continental United States. This is when I was struck by a pair of feelings: One, a newfound respect for my neighbor and his teachings. Two, a sense of forgiveness for all the times I had sneered at meteorologists or those folks who wave at a green screen on television in attempt to explain what might happen in tomorrow's skies. They were doing science. Some more than others to be sure, but they were attempting to understand the heavens and explain it to us here on earth. Pretty lofty. Plenty of hubris there. 

Which brings me back to the rodent from that first stanza. For hundreds of years, going all the way back to the Old Country, folks have been gathering around a hole in the ground to see if the aforementioned rodent (groundhog here, badger elsewhere, marmots even) would emerge and somehow discern that what he saw on the ground was his shadow or the coming of another six weeks of winter. So in love with this tradition, we created a holiday around it. Because when it comes to predicting the weather, you're probably just as well off with a tiny mammal than a big-brained one with advanced degrees. Look outside your own hole in the morning. Is it raining? Put on a jacket. 

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