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What Do Groundhogs Know About Montana?

Photo courtesy of La Belle Province/Flickr

As a kid, I was kind of obsessed with Groundhog Day. Actually, I think I was more obsessed with the actual groundhog. Anything small and furry was on my cool list — I was that kid who was always trying to catch a squirrel that I could keep as a pet.

Anyway, I always took Punxutawney Phil’s annual prediction as cold, hard, indisputable fact. Each year, I put all of my hopes and dreams for an early spring into the tiny paws of a chubby, buck-toothed rodent.

But the older I got, the more I realized that old Phil’s forecast was usually more farce than fact. This has been especially evident during the years I have lived in Montana. As most Montanans know, the remainder of our winter will likely be measured in months, not weeks — regardless of what Phil has to say (or see) about it.

On Thursday, Phil saw his shadow, which according to tradition, means we have six more weeks of winter. For most people around the country, that might seem like a long time. Here in Montana, six weeks is nothing. If spring arrived in the middle of March, I, for one, would be totally stoked.

I’m no legendary marmot, but my money says we have at least double that — if not longer — before spring finally comes our way. And even then, we’re not truly out of the woods until July-ish, as I’ve seen some pretty nasty snowstorms in June.

If it’s any consolation, this winter has been milder than most, with plenty of above-average temperatures across the state. So maybe six — or eight, or 10, or 12 — more weeks of winter won’t be so bad.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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