Here in Woodstock, we take the minor holiday of Groundhog Day very seriously. We are proud that the movie, “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, was filmed almost entirely in our town. Since the film was released in 1993, there has always been a celebration on Feb. 2 on our town square. Every year the highlight is Woodstock Willie, our local groundhog, emerging from a tree stump and making his prognostication.
With Groundhog Day falling on the same Saturday as our monthly Coffee and Conversation this year, we decided to hold our own event. The closest we could come to an actual groundhog was my neighbor Ollie’s Yorkie. In his brown sweater, Oliver was at least an approximation of a groundhog. And he gamely went out into the cold so we could check for a shadow.
But here’s the problem. Neither Woodstock Willie nor Oliver saw his shadow that morning. So how could their predictions of an early spring have gone so wrong? It has now snowed on 23 of the past 35 days. And today we are having our fourth significant snowfall of the past month.
Now, Oliver’s miscue could be excused because, while he did not see his shadow, he did see his reflection in the glass of our clubhouse door. Perhaps that is all it took to throw him off. But what is Woodstock Wille’s excuse?
One of my favorite poems about snow is Wallace Stevens’ 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. As I sit here in my cozy sunroom gazing outside, I’m especially reminded of this stanza:
“It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.”
With huge apologies to the poet, I would like to paraphrase another of his stanzas:
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of the falling snow
Or the beauty of the Langford Group truck plowing it.
The clean, untouched snow on my sidewalks
Or the cheerful man shoveling it.