Tahlequah Daily Press

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February 2, 2007

Groundhog? Marmot? What's the difference?

Some holidays just have to be written about in the local newspaper every time they roll around.

Christmas and New Year’s are, of course, the two biggies. But there are a few others, too – like Easter, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, and Groundhog Day.

Now, Groundhog Day may not seem like that big of a deal to a lot of folks. Punxsutawney, Pa., home of nationally famous weather-prediction groundhog, Puxsutawney Phil, and the setting of the movie “Groundhog Day,” tends to get most of the attention on Feb. 2.

Phil, it is believed, comes out of his hole on that day, and either sees his shadow or not. If he does see his shadow, we’ll supposedly have six more weeks of winter.

And if he doesn’t see his shadow?

Well, we’ll still have six more weeks of winter, since winter won’t officially be over until the spring equinox on March 21.

Some members of the Daily Press editorial staff (OK, maybe just one member of the staff) noticed a few years ago that Tahlequah seems to have an inordinately large groundhog population.

Last year, that writer (or, this writer, to be more precise) proposed that Tahlequah wrest all the Groundhog Day publicity away from Punxsutawney and focus some attention on a some of Tahlequah’s weather-predicting groundhogs.

The plan didn’t work.

But Tahlequah still seems to have a lot of groundhogs, including the two that were nominated to represent our fair city in the failed Groundhog Day coup: Tahlequah Tom, who lives in the back yard of NSU’s Woods House, and Dogtown Dylan, who live a few hundred yards up the creek from Tom.

Unfortunately, Dylan (who bore an uncanny resemblance to his namesake, folk/rock singer Bob Dylan) was displaced last fall by a family of raccoons.

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