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David Beaulieu

Groundhog Day Marks Halfway Point to Green Road

By January 16, 2014

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picture of street sign for green road

We're inching closer and closer to the halfway point through winter, when plant geeks in northern climes can heave a sigh of relief and assure themselves, "If I've made it this far without my outdoor plants, I can make it the rest of the way till spring returns." Think of winter as a highway known as "White Road," and we plant-lovers must travel this desolate route every year all the way to its end point, where it intersects "Green Road" (the beginning of spring). From that point on, we're pretty much in the clear.

Do you know what date marks the halfway point along White Road? February 2 -- yes, Groundhog Day. And no, that's not a coincidence.

As the big day approaches, some of us re-watch the Groundhog Day movie to mark the occasion. Call it an annual rite, a quirky way of coping with the winter blahs. If you're familiar with the movie, let me ask you: Have you ever analyzed Groundhog Day? I mean really analyzed it? Although classified as a romantic comedy, Groundhog Day has a much deeper meaning than most films in that genre.

For those who aren't familiar with the movie, the basic story line is that the main character (played by Bill Murray) is trapped in some sort of time warp. Namely, every morning that he wakes up, day after day, it's February 2: Groundhog Day. And he's also trapped spatially in Punxsutawney, PA (site of the chief Groundhog Day festival), because the roads leading out of town are closed due to a snowstorm, putting travel on hold. How to finally experience a "tomorrow" and extricate himself from this extraordinary imprisonment becomes his task.

As many laughs as there are to be had from this movie, you can readily surmise from the foregoing that it's a movie that can inspire some pretty heavy pondering, as well, if you are so disposed. For example, consider this: of all the dates on the calendar, why did the minds behind this film decide that Murray would be trapped within Groundhog Day and not some other day? Or to put it another way: what is it about February 2 that is so special?

My own interpretation is that it has a lot to do with the fact that February 2 is a transitional day in the great cycle of the seasons. Specifically (as pointed out above), the date falls exactly at the halfway mark on that arduous journey we Northerners must undertake each year from the onset of winter to its merciful terminus at the spring equinox. As a celebration that marks such a momentous transition, it's an apt metaphor for the personal transition that the protagonist must undergo in order to free himself from the time warp.

If all of this is far too philosophical for your own tastes, simply treat Groundhog Day as a convenient excuse for reflecting on the need for groundhog control in your garden. For while Punxsutawney Phil is plenty cute in the movie, I wouldn't want him anywhere near my plants!

More: Can Heated Driveways Be Retrofitted?

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