The alarm blared in the middle of the night, and the blind woodchuck groaned and batted at the screen until it stopped shrieking. It was very dark and cozy in the burrow and she dreaded the thought of rousing herself enough to even roll over. Waking up early from hibernation was a bitch.
She shivered a bit at the cloud of cold air that was hovering just above her DIY down quilt— a bunch of ducks had molted right outside the entrance to her burrow, and she had gathered all the loose feathers into a plastic bag that had been blowing around the meadow. The tote of downy discarded plumage had kept her toasty for the past few months and made getting up all that more difficult. The bag had a weird smiley face on the side that kind of creeped her out, but she tried to ignore it. Sometimes it felt like the eyes followed her.
She pushed the blanket aside to finally get up when a sudden realization struck her: this was February 2, her busiest workday of the year, but now she remembered that something had changed. She flopped back in the dirt and a huge smile, bigger than the one on the plastic bag quilt, crossed her face. She had set the alarm out of habit but now she could ignore it. She had retired!
No more waking up at dark o’clock to get to Punxsutawney in time for the big reveal, especially during an ice storm; no more being groped by clueless mayors with freezing cold hands as they tried to hoist her into the air or feeling guilty about the bag of Snickers she had consumed that made the hoisting more difficult. And best of all, since it was almost impossible to tell woodchucks apart, she would still get the snaps for doing a great job!
When she had made the decision to leave the Official Groundhog Predictor position, she had been uncertain if it was the right choice. (It had actually not been her choice at all, since she had overslept, missed last year’s ceremony and been replaced by her cousin Kevin; but she was very good at bending the story to flatter herself and had come to believe her version was the truth. She could even visualize the fantasy retirement party the town had thrown her, although they had been too cheap to get her a gold watch; she got a stick instead.)
She snuggled deeper into her maniacally grinning sleeping bag and thought about all the things she would do now that the unencumbered time stretched endlessly before her. Maybe she would write a screenplay; a blockbuster film that would replace that other movie about groundhogs that had become synonymous with doing the same thing over and over again. She hated that people assumed her days were an endless loop of sleeping and eating and then sleeping, although she had to admit it had been an apt metaphor for watching the House repeatedly not voting for Kevin McCarthy for five days in a row.
Maybe she would write a biopic about what it was like to carry the responsibility of predicting spring on her shoulders all these years, how the world had counted on her to use her shadowy skills to let them know when it would be warm enough to wear a tube top. She was exactly the right rodent to write this film. Maybe they could even get Bill Murray to be in it again, although this time he would be the one with the mayor’s hand up his ass! She chortled to herself and thought she would get right on that, just as soon as she slept for another three months.
The Blind Woodchuck is correct; February is the best month to sleep through.