MEDICINE PARK Well, it was Groundhog Day, again – at least in some parts of the country.
In the cobblestone community, Punxsutawney Phil and his groundhog brethren were cast aside as false prophets bearers of untrue weather forecasts and fake news. Friday was not “Groundhog Day;” it was “Packrat Day.” Even Elmer Thomas Elmo and his prairie dog compatriots were not immune from scorn, as the Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center consulted its own prophesying prodigy rodent, Biscuit the Packrat, to determine whether Southwest Oklahoma would see six more weeks of winter or enjoy an early spring.
Doug Kemper, executive director, said Biscuit would not hold back against anyone who questioned her abilities or her standing as the portending packrat.
“Perhaps if they wanted to be taken more seriously, they could come out more often, instead of staying inside for the whole winter and only appearing after spring has arrived,” he said.
It was a cold, blustery and fairly wintry Friday morning when residents and delegates gathered at the aquarium to hear the prognostications of the packrat. When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing among the people and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, few could imagine a better fate.
Among the crowd was Mayor Jennifer Ellis, decked in a bright red coat and sparkling black top hat the true uniform of the master of ceremonies. She gave a short speech that emphasized the history of the holiday formerly known as Groundhog Day while espousing the foretelling nature of Biscuit’s talents. Phil may be the only true “groundhog forecaster,” but groundhog forecasters don’t have an impeccable track record. A packrat’s record is still pristine.
“At first, when Biscuit the Packrat first came to the Medicine Park Aquarium, the staff thought she was an ordinary southern plains packrat,” Ellis said. “However, after careful observation, we think Biscuit may have strange meteorological powers. Perhaps, Biscuit is able to predict future weather events. Or perhaps not.”
Biscuit, happily sheltered from the biting cold and blustery winds in a plastic ball, was plucked from a cardboard box and held up in the air for all gathered to see. The sun shone brightly overhead in the morning hours, but Biscuit claimed not to have seen a shadow. Perhaps it was the plastic diffusing the solar rays. Perhaps it was the poor eyesight of the packrat. Or perhaps Biscuit knew something no one else in attendance did that groundhogs cannot predict the weather and their methods are flawed. But the presumptuous packrat predicted an early spring no matter whether a shadow was spotted or not.