Groundhog Day, and Me in Three Words

It’s February 2nd, Groundhog day. It’s a North American tradition, one of Punxsutawney’s local events and — at least in my country — national news.

Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this year.

North American folklore says that this means we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Which, here in central Minnesota, is likely enough: cloudy day in Punxsutawney or not.

Groundhog Day’s folklore is, or was, superstition.

I see it as an opportunity for Punxsutawney’s VIPs to wear top hats, and a pleasant mid-winter break from shoveling and heating bills.

However, there’s no getting around it. Groundhog Day has roots in Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions. Or folklore. Depends on viewpoint, maybe.

Hoo boy. Groundhog Day’s roots could be trouble.

Being superstitious is one of the things we’re told is a bad idea. It’s religious feeling gone wrong. Really wrong. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2111)

If I was superstitious about, say, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I’d think that the words and what I do with the prayer beads had magical effects.

They don’t. Which reminds me: I want to talk about the Divine Mercy chaplet again some time. But not to day.

If I burned berries before a picture of Punxsutawney Phil to lower the household heating bills: my wife would complain. And I’d be well-advised to rethink my attitude toward groundhogs. Which, I see, are the critters I call woodchucks.1

A Pennsylvanian groundhog’s presumed prognostications might lead me down the primrose path to perdition. If I took today’s cloudy weather as a Sign to the Faithful.

Which I don’t. And that’s another topic. Topics.

Adoption: Simply Fill Out These Forms, and These, And – – –


(Another overcast day here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. (February 2, 2021; 1:25 p.m.))

I talked, briefly, about family and children yesterday. (February 1, 2021)

Recapping, in part: our number-two daughter and son-in-law adopted their daughter. Which is okay. (Catechism, 2379)

The hoops they had to jump through in the adoption process warrant more attention than I’m willing to give today.

The good news, part of it, is that they finally had all the forms filled out. And could spend two months as residents in another state.

My son-in-law, happily, is the sort of entrepreneur who can take a two-month vacation and still have a ‘job’ when he gets back. Not everyone can do that.

I’m pretty sure that many couples who aren’t like our granddaughter’s adoptive parents would also make good mothers and fathers. But we’re not likely to find out, as long as American adoption regulations stay the way they are.

If you’re bracing for a rant, relax. My father and I have, between us, lived through eras that inspired today’s bureaucratic tangle.

Our laws and regulations were, I think, innocuous.

I think the folks who set up the system meant well.

How it actually works could use improvement. Much improvement.

Describing Me in Three Words: and a Three-Week Anniversary


(Me, Saturday before last. I do not usually wear a mask at my desk. (January 23, 2021))

Before I forget — this is my 21st consecutive daily ‘journal’ entry. But, important as this milestone is to me, I don’t expect to see it in national news. And that’s yet another topic.

Now, getting back to the adoption process.

One of the many forms and reports that number-two daughter and son-in-law filled out included instructions to describe, in three words, the prospective adopters’ parents.

Which, I think, makes sense. Or should. In any case, I’m impressed, relieved and pleased that number-two daughter’s three-word description of me didn’t cause trouble.

She, quite accurately, said that I was:

  • Eccentric
  • Scholarly
  • Eclectic

We’re not entirely sure about the second word, “scholarly.” Their copy of the actual report is on a disk drive that is on my son’s to-do list of things to fix. It’s a long list.

But she said I was scholarly or academic, or something like that. And I think she’s right.

She’s right about eccentric and eclectic, too.

Which should be obvious, from the stuff I write:


1 More than pretty much anyone really needs to know about:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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4 Responses to Groundhog Day, and Me in Three Words

  1. I am not superstitious. I am just stituous. Nothing super about me. Although I will not ever walk under a black cat.

    On a serious matter. Catholics, (like you and I), sometimes pray novenas and litanies and so on. You mention the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I think the Church should make it clear that praying such novenas and prayers does not gain you any special favours with Saints, or God. They are not a short-cut to Heaven either. A lot of Catholics pray, (and light candles, place flowers to statues etc), under the false belief that these can be traded for favours.

    God bless.

    • That situation is among the reasons I’m quite content to remain a layman – and not responsible for trying to balance respect for popular piety and theological rigor. I think that’s the right phrase.
      Good point(s), by the way. Something to think about.
      A flip side of the making it clear thing is that resources are **there,** at least for anyone with an Internet connection and a working knowledge of one of vatican[dot]va’s languages.
      The trick, of course, is wondering if they’re there: and having the intellectual tools needed for a search. And that’s another topic or three.

  2. irishbrigid says:

    Missing word? “Before I forget — is my 21st consecutive”

    The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

    PS. About superstition: A fellow from NASA once said, in regards to them not having ’13’ (or numbers that could add up to ’13’ or ‘1’ and ‘3’ next to each other in a longer number), “We’re not superstitious, but…” The Apollo 13 disaster really spooked them, it seems.

    • Whoops! Missing word – now found. 🙂 Thanks!

      And – the NASA 13 thing. Indeed. I understand an ‘I’m not superstitious, but’ attitude: just because I don’t see a cause-effect relationship, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Syntactic awkwardness there, but never mind.

Thanks for taking time to comment!