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Groundhog Day: When will winter end?

James Pinsky

Mention Groundhog Day and you’ll get a few different reactions.

Some folks know it to be a good-natured, but scientifically grossly inaccurate predictive way to forecast how long wintery weather will continue; and, others will think about the Bill Murray-led movie – though I remember his costar, the lovely Andy MacDowell far more often than Murray, about the pomp and circumstance surrounding Punxsutawney Phil.

Regardless of your first thoughts about Groundhog Day, the main idea is always the same: when will winter end? I suppose the interest is because, for the most part, people don’t enjoy the cold. For sure, the members of NAME, or the National Association of Mosquito Empowerment, despise winter. The same is true for outdoor swimming pool cleaners, most clothing manufactures that specialize in shorts, gardeners, and people who are allergic to jackets. Thankfully, I am none of these things. I am a huge fan of winter. I’m also a fan of spring, summer and fall. I actually think the whole point of all four seasons is to perpetuate life, enable a variety of cool marketing material, and remind us all that no matter how good or bad things may be, change is inevitable.

In the movie “Groundhog Day,” you know, the one with Andy MacDowell (blush), the weather isn’t the point of the movie. No, the point of the movie is the miracle of being able to make mistakes and recover from them, then relive the same opportunities with flawless decisions. My, wouldn’t life be grand if we could invoke Groundhog Days, or mulligans as they’re known in golf, in our daily lives? Imagine if we could go back decades and not produce ozone-depleting chemicals, dump hazardous waste in our precious waterways, or trash our forests with plastics, oils, and other non-point source pollutants.

I have good news everyone. Every day is a lot like “Groundhog Day,” the movie, if you want it to be. In fact, our lives are a little better than what Bill Murray and Andy MacDowell portrayed in the movie because we aren’t cursed with having to live in the same day, for better or for worse, until we get it right. Trust me on this one, folks. I love cherry pie, but if all I ever ate was cherry pie for the rest of my life, not only would it cease to be my favorite snack, it would surely grow into my nemesis. Variety, and change for that matter, are good things. This kind of attitude is why every time the seasons change, and they always do, I am thankful because the only reason I like winter is because it stays around just long enough to be welcome and is gone just long enough to be missed.

So, when the seasons start to change, don’t be sad – or happy for that matter. Be inspired and reminded that Hollywood isn’t the only world where we can start over. Every time we wake up to start our day, we have the power to improve our routines whether its drinking more water, putting what was once trash into a recycling bin, channeling our energy from disappointment, frustration, anxiety, or anger into purpose-driven volunteerism, deciding to hold our tongues, or even finally speaking our minds.

All of us start each and every day with the chance to make life better not just for ourselves, but for everyone on this planet by making just one small improvement in our lives every single day. Our lives and our fates aren’t controlled by a groundhog’s shadow. So this morning, whether Punxsutawney Phil sees its shadow or not, make the choice to be a better you and you’ll realize our world can benefit from climate change best when it happens between our ears first.

James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540-465-2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.

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