The South likes to do things its own way. Screw Punxsutawney Phil. Deep in the heart of biscuit and grits country, the rodent with the lowdown on how much longer winter will last is named for the man who surrendered to Gen. Grant in the Civil War. Yes..it’s General Lee who’s rousted from his roost and grabbed by the scruff of his furry neck as a couple of good old boys who imbibe for breakfast decided whether or not the sleepy soldier saw his shadow. At least, that’s how it was when my assignment manager at CNN’s Southeast Bureau in Atlanta tossed this one in my lap. I duly showed up at 5:45am at the Yellow River Wildlife Ranch in suburban Snellville to wait for the big moment. To keep us reporters, um, engaged until then, there were bottles of something alcoholic, along with dozens of ham, bacon, egg and sausage biscuits. By the time poor old General Lee was poked until he came out of his slumber and investigated who the hell was bothering him, we were pretty well loaded and larded. It was dark when he emerged from his faux plantation home but the Yellow River boys insisted he saw his shadow. Fine. Six more weeks of winter in Atlanta just means six more weeks of spring. Oh, they had snow once or twice in the 8 years I lived there. I think it totalled a quarter inch, which sent the Georgia peaches into a hissy fit.
Personally, I think the whole groundhog thing is a ruse. A better gauge might be whether or not Ryan Gosling looks in the mirror and sees his five o’clock shadow. He’s Canadian, you know. It’s always winter to him.
Epilogue: You don’t see me in the package above. I did shoot a standup but a prissy anchor had it killed. I was in front of groundhog pelt nailed on the wall of the cabin across from General Lee’s enclosure. I said “…and if the ground hog is wrong….” and turned towards the pelt. Some people just have no sense of humor.