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The Telegram
  • Gary Brown: Winter is here, shadow or no shadow

  • Winter won’t end until March 20. Bundle up and live with it.

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  • Not to sound like a groundhog-is-half-blind sort of guy, but I figure that regardless of whether old Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow in Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day next week, those of us in the rest of the country still are looking at six more weeks of winter.
    I believe this to be the probability even if we quickly organize a Woodchuck Day in Ohio and a Whistle-Pig Day in Indiana, in a desperate attempt to determine our weather by making it the best two-out-of-three.
    It’s winter. Winter won’t end until March 20. Bundle up and live with it.
    And I don’t think that if March comes in like a lion it necessarily will go out like a lamb, either. It might just keep snowing. It might go out like a polar bear.
    Seasonal Superstitions
    I don’t buy into any of the other weather superstitions, either.
    If wind blows down your chimney, expect cold weather, one of them claims. I think you just need to close your flue.
    Chickens crowing at midnight or crowing more than 10 times is supposed to indicate bad weather. Well, I don’t live within earshot of any chickens that aren’t packaged in parts, and their crowing days are pretty much over, but the Weather Channel often tells me to expect the same snowstorms as people who own still-pecking poultry.
    And, if birds gather on the ground in groups, I doubt that it’s because a superstition says it’s supposed to snow. I suspect that it means somebody just spilled a container of bird seed in the parking lot on the way to a car. Lucky for the birds, but not particularly meaningful in a meteorological sense.
    Taking It Personal
    I’m not the kind of guy who goes around petting people’s dogs early in the season so I can judge how cold the rest of the winter is going to be by the thickness of a canine’s coat. Oh, I’m friendly. I pet whatever pooch approaches me.
    But, I don’t attribute to them any more long-term knowledge — instinctive or otherwise — about high and low temperatures than meteorologists on the nightly news, and those guys seldom extend their forecasts out farther than five days.
    That’s why, when it comes to weather superstitions about winter, I choose not to believe. If I believe superstitions now, then I have to believe them later, too. And, there’s one superstition which apparently says that if sparrows mate in March — right about the time the groundhog’s prediction is dwindling out — then we can expect six more weeks of cold weather.
    Now, I don’t mind that. My winter coats and gloves will still be available.
    Page 2 of 2 - It’s just that intentionally watching sparrows mate makes me feel sort of creepy. Waking up the groundhog is bad enough, but I think that what sparrows do in the privacy of their own nest isn’t any of my business.
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