Family

Groundhog Day Blues: a music video

February 2, 2021 by

With apologies to Punxsutawney Phil, I do not think groundhogs are cute. Apparently, ancient Germanic peoples actually used hedgehog shadows to predict an early spring. Now that’s charming, if no more accurate.

It’s a rather minor blip on the calendar – just a chance for the kids to argue about what the shadow signifies anyway. Six more weeks of. . . school? All the same, every year when Groundhog Day rolled around, a certain friend (we’ll call him Mario Meier) would declare it was a shame there were no groundhog songs to mark such an auspicious occasion. So one year, and perhaps so he would not have to hear that lament again, Mario’s friend Kirk Wareham wrote a poem.

Then brothers Jason and Simeon Swinger put it to music. Then the school kids sang it. There were cheek pops and finger clicks and shouting. It was a lot of fun. Then it went into hibernation for a while.

This year, Simeon woke it up early and gave it a little chant to keep it awake. He and his family composed a rollicking musical track, then proposed that our family should sing along to it, on camera, for Groundhog Day 2021. As if it hasn’t been a turbulent enough start to the year.

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We live at Fox Hill, a Bruderhof in Walden, New York, which is rife with wildlife including (yes) foxes, who don’t manage to keep the local groundhog population in check, but we still didn’t have very high hopes of getting live participation in our song. (We’re in the middle of a bitter cold snap, with a side of excellent skating.)

Besides, should a real groundhog wander into our shot, we might get a call from PETA, who challenged the town of Punxsutawney last year to leave Phil alone and “turn to artificial intelligence. It would renew interest in the event and allow the groundhog to dig, burrow and forage in peace.”

Luckily, Grandma Mengia got inspired and sewed us a groundhog, (PETA, it is faux fur); his name is Punky, and he is as artificially intelligent as a fur ball on a fishing line can be.

Does he see his shadow or not? You decide. Thanks to Kirk’s clever lyrics, the end result is exactly the same!

Now this particular groundhog is rather sweet, or he would be if he didn’t have the disconcerting habit of scuttling between apartments in our building. I am not braced to encounter him under the bathroom sink first thing in the morning, for example, or lounging nonchalantly on grandma’s sofa, no matter how guileless his countenance. Detached from his fishing string, how does Punky locomote? I have a suspicion. But I haven’t caught her yet.

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Ground Hog Blues 

Going to find the groundhog,
What do you say?
If we’re really quiet
We won’t scare him away.
February’s first night is done,
Groundhog Day has just begun,
Pokin’ out his furry head,
Watch him crawling out of bed!
Going to find the groundhog,
What a fine time!
I can see my shadow,
When the sun shines!
Sun is shining, sky is blue,
What’s a groundhog meant to do?
There’s his shadow lean and bold,
Six more weeks of winter cold!
Going to find the groundhog,
What a funny day!
Watch how all the clouds
Chase the sun away!
Sky is dark, no sun around,
Not a shadow on the ground.
Don your boots for one last fling,
Only six more weeks till spring!
Now we’re getting weary,
Back home we go.
Groundhog’s in his burrow,
Under the snow.
Hey! Get back in your hole!
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About the author

Maureen Swinger

Maureen Swinger

Maureen Swinger is an editor at Plough Publishing House and lives at the Fox Hill Bruderhof in Walden, New York, with her...

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