Burrowing out for a Visit with Phil and a Stop for “Cakes & Steaks” in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
I’ve always been fond of Groundhog Day and the Bill Murray/Andie McDowell movie centered around it, so when I realized that we now live very close to the town of Punxsutawney, home to the prognosticating woodchuck named Phil, I started researching the festivities that go on that special day. Every February 2nd, I learned, around 30,000 visitors to the charming village of Punxsutawney, PA hoof it a mile and a half to the top of Gobbler’s Knob, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous groundhog as he “predicts” the coming of spring.
According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow as he emerges, he will run back to hide for six more weeks of winter, which lets us all know we are in for the long haul. If it’s cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is on the way.
This cute little method of guessing when warm weather will come has always seemed a little backwards to me. If it’s sunny enough for him to see his shadow, shouldn’t that mean that spring is well on its way? And if it’s cloudy, as it is today, doesn’t that mean that we are still in the thick of it and may be for a while? It’s confusing, but I guess I won’t argue with the groundhog because it’s cloudy and rainy and unseasonably warm as I type. So I am predicting that in an hour and a half, when that little rodent finally wakes from his winter hibernation, he will not see his shadow, and I can see an end in sight to another winter of uncomfortable sub-zero temps.
Because parking is so horrendous on the morning of Groundhog Day that bus trips into town are organized, and it is suggested that visitors start their march up the hill to the park at 4:30 a.m. in order to arrive in time to see Phil do his thing at 7:30, we wondered if we needed to go to all that trouble just to see what all the fuss was about. As it turns out, you can see Phil, and his wife Phyllis, any day of the year in his four-season “burrow” terrarium at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, which is located right on the square of the lovely little town.
So we burrowed out of our own den on a surprisingly warm January day to see if we could bribe the little guy into calling an end to winter.
He was still hibernating when we arrived on one of the of the 364 days out of the year that he is allowed to sleep in, so I wasn’t able to offer him a carrot or anything, but I’m still feeling hopeful that a thaw is on its way.
As we headed back out of town, we spotted a perfectly touristy family restaurant appropriately named Punxy Phil’s, which sign claimed it was home of “cakes & steaks”. We weren’t sure what that meant, so we all tumbled out of our mini van to find out.
“Steak” was self-explanatory. Once we had a glimpse of the menu we saw that “cakes” were pancakes. Good pancakes! But I’m a sucker for any kind of cake flipped in a pan.
And, as one would expect of such a place, near the register patrons can find lots of silly groundhog memorabilia for sale. Hats, scarves, mittens, slippers, playing cards…you name it. If you can put a picture of a groundhog on it, they’ve got it.
I was up early thanks to the sound of the buffeting wind and raindrops on our farmhouse’s old tin roof, so now I think I’ll hunker back down for a little snooze while I wait for news on what Phil has decided, as thousands and thousands of onlookers march in the icy rain up to Gobbler’s Knob to learn first-hand. Somehow, I think my way’s better. Zzzzzzz…..