It was very early on the morning of February second. The sun was just coming up. Penny was sound asleep and dreaming about Croc Camp
Carin tiptoed into the bedroom. “Penny,” she said softly. “Penny, wake up. It’s Groundhog Day.”
“Go away,” mumbled Penny.
“You said I should get you up and not take no for an answer,” replied Carin.
“Well, I changed my mind.”
“We’re going out to see the groundhog come out of his hole. Don’t you want to come? If he sees his shadow it is six more weeks of winter,” Carin reminded Penny. “But if not, spring is just around the corner.”
“Spring isn’t going to come any sooner depending on what a rodent does,” grumbled Penny, diving back under the covers. “You can tell me later what happened. Goodbye, Carin.” She turned the electric blanket up to 6 and closed her eyes.
“OK, but don’t complain later on that you missed all the excitement,” said Carin.
The other girls were waiting by the groundhog hole. “Are you sure this is the place?” Corky asked Taryn.
“Yes,” said Taryn, “Annette was complaining all summer about the groundhog who lived under the lavender in the herb garden. I’m sure this is it. He kept eating the buds and she hardly had enough to make wands this year.”
“Too bad for our undies,” said Kerry. “I can’t believe how warm it’s been this winter. Even if he sees his shadow, we’ve hardly had any winter so far.”
“Is this the famous Punxatawny Phil?” asked Corky. “I’ve heard about him.”
“No,” Taryn replied. “Our groundhog is Reading Ralph. But he’s just as good at forecasting the weather as Phil is.”
Carin hurried out to join the other Emmas. “Penny decided to sleep in,” she reported. “Any sign of Ralph?”
“Not so far,” answered Kerry. “Penny’s going to be sorry later on.”
“I would say she was getting her beauty sleep except that everyone knows that Emmas are naturally beautiful,” joked Taryn.
The girls all laughed. “Just don’t tell the Caities!”
The girls gazed intently at the groundhog hole. “I wonder how deep it is,” said Taryn. “Look, everybody, something’s moving! Here he comes!”
A little pink nose appeared. The girls held their breath.
“It’s just a wee mouse,” laughed Kerry. “Taryn, are you sure this is the groundhog hole?” She picked up the mouse and admired it. “He’s really cute.”
“I am sure this is the place,” Taryn insisted.
“I’ve seen the groundhog here lots of times,” Carin agreed.
“Look, something else is coming out,” Corky exclaimed.
A long skinny nose emerged. “Although it’s not very groundhog-ish,” Corky added. “If that is a word!”
“Looks like an anteater to me,” said Carin. “Maybe he was visiting Ralph. Then again, maybe we have the first weather forecasting aardvark in the USA.”
“Or the first aardvark family,” added Taryn. “Look!” The aardvark was followed by his wife and two children. They all scampered out of the hole and into the back garden to forage for ants.
The girls heard footsteps behind them. They turned to see Penny come running up. “Did I miss him? Did he see his shadow?” she panted.
“No, he hasn’t come out yet,” Taryn replied. “I thought you were sleeping in.”
“I couldn’t get back to sleep after Carin woke me up,” Penny explained. “And it’s too bad because I was dreaming we were at Croc Camp and I caught a big fish and it offered me 3 wishes if I would throw it back in the lake.”
“Well, what did you wish for?” Taryn asked.
“I don’t know,” said Penny, “I woke up. Too bad. I would have liked…”
“Baaaaaaa!” Suddenly a lamb came out of the groundhog hole. The girls all laughed.
“It’s one of the sheep from the Sultanate of Tamsen,” said Corky. “Wow, right here in our own groundhog hole.”
“It’s really soft, too,” Corky, who was tired of standing and watching, had pulled up a bench to sit on, and picked up the lamb. The other girls stroked the soft wool. “I wonder how it got in there.”
The girls heard a familiar voice. “Good morning, girls!”
“Carlisle!” they all laughed. “What were you doing in there?”
“Ralph was having a little Groundhog Eve party last night,” Carlisle explained. “We all had a great time, too. You should see Mrs. Aardvark do the tango. And Sam the sheep makes excellent pina coladas! I wont even mention the conga line….”
“But where is Ralph?” Carin asked. “We’ve been waiting and waiting.”
“He couldn’t find his top hat,” Carlisle explained. “He put it away last February and hasn’t looked at it since then. We finally tracked it down under the computer table behind all the wires. He’ll be out in a minute.”
“Ralph has a computer?” Taryn asked.
“Sure,” said Carlisle. “He works part-time for the Weather Channel. He’s a certified meteor.. uh, meteorologi… that is, weather rodent. He even consults with Princess Jessie from the Kingdom of Slumberland to be 100% accurate. You don’t think he makes his forecasts just by luck, do you?”
“No, of course not,” all the girls chorused, but each one secretly thought that he did.
Suddenly out of the hole popped Reading Ralph. “Good morning young ladies, Carlisle, Mr. Mouse, and other honored guests,” he said. He squinted and looked at the sky. “I am pleased to announce that I am unable to see my shadow so winter is hereby over.”
“Ralph, your shadow is down that way,” Corky pointed out.
“On the contrary,” said Ralph, looking down, “All I see are those messy leaves. Very untidy. I shall have to fire my groundskeeper, or at least reduce her salary. Do you girls know someone named Annette?”
The girls nodded, thinking with amusement how annoyed Annette would be to have be considered Ralph’s groundskeeper.
“Please convey to her that I wish my domicile to be better tended,” said Ralph. “But I reiterate, I do not see my shadow, so I am hereby declaring the end of winter. Finis, kaput, end of story. Now if those of you of the press wish to take my photograph, perhaps Miss Taryn will assist and we will finish the ceremony. Then I want to go back to hibernating. I was having the greatest dream that I was fishing and caught a rather large flounder who offered me three wishes…”
“Sounds awfully fishy to me, ” Kerry said.
“Must be something in the air,” Penny whispered to Corky.
The excitement over, the girls put Ralph back in his hole and headed back inside to have breakfast, eager to tell everybody to pack away their winter woolies because Spring was about to get sprung.
Later that day, Taryn met Randy. “Hey, Taryn,” said Randy, “what did Reading Ralph say? How soon is it going to snow?” Randy had gotten a new sled for Christmas and was anxious to try it out.
“Sorry, Randy,” Taryn answered. “Ralph said spring is just around the corner.”
“Oh no, I am late again. I spent the whole winter waiting in anticipation for somebody to give me a sled and when I finally do get one I find that Winter is over.”
“You could always send it to Dawn in South Africa, they are heading into Winter soon. Or, if the rain continues there she can use it as raft.” Taryn joked, knowing Dawn’s admiration of Randy.
“That’s a plan, but I think I will wait just a bit longer, you never know it may still snow, the weather has been mighty strange lately.”
“Well I hope it doesn’t snow again until next Winter, I have packed most of my Winter woolies away already and I am just waiting for it to warm up a bit more and I am going to hit the swimming hole.”
Randy looked dejectedly at his new sled. “Well, if you need a raft, you know who to call.”
© DRW, JE Sturgis. 2006-2018. Moved to blog 05/09/2015