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Can furry rodents predict weather?

January is finally over and now we have to live with what February’s groundhog left for us. Don’t believe it. Some reports say that spring was just six weeks away.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on February 2, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

What’s a groundhog got to say about the weather anyway?

I almost made a pet of one some years ago but he never left a message during one of his visits to my backyard.

I watched him (I assumed that was his gender) come from under a door of an outbuilding to eat clover and I started taking cabbage leaves and salad leftovers nearby. He came daily to eat what I had left and I gave him a name and watched him eat from my kitchen window.

I was warned that you shouldn’t try to make a pet from an oversized rodent because as they tunneled under the building, it could collapse and cause much damage.

But I kept feeding him anyway and then he disappeared. He never left a message about the weather or where he was going. I never knew where he went, and I never asked because I really didn’t want to know.

We have our Groundhog Day support group here in my neighborhood and for years they go to various offices and schools around town and sing about the stuffed rodent.

They appear to be having a good time and have brought a lot of laughs with their visits. I don’t know where Gus came from but I’ve heard he fell dead from a tree and someone found the stiff animal and had him mounted.

But today, after accompanying these women around town for years, he really is looking much like his ancestors, or a dead rat.

They call him Gus or at least they sing about Gus, but Gus will never know the fame of Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania. He gathers the most attention because his entry from his burrow is televised each February 2, usually wearing a hat. Dead animals don’t need hats.

Phil is alive, but I don’t believe in his message either.

When the tulips and yellow bells bloom and the grass is growing and looks greener each day, get that lawn mower ready because it will soon be spring.

And most of us will be ready for it.

Kathryn Yarbro is former managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.

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