SUNSET The illustrious and nationally famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow Saturday in western Pennsylvania, but his almost-famous, lowlier and less-ambitious cousin, Guinea pig Sunset Sam, failed to see the sun set in northern Davis County.
Phil's prediction means six more weeks of winter, and Sam's means spring is around the corner. But how far away that corner is, we just don't know. So one is left to believe that Saturday's prediction is eerily similar to what it means when Sam sees the sunset: at least six more days of winter.
That's right. Days.
So, no matter what, winter is going to be here for a while.
And when two rodent cousins a half continent apart make similar predictions that winter will stick around, there are a few ways you may react, and though all of them are normal reactions to grief at a longer winter, most of them won't do you much good.
The first thing you may feel is denial.
"Rodents can't predict the future," you might say.
You may also feel anger.
"They used to have a big feast and eat the groundhog," says Brent Andrews, who started Sunset Sam on his 14-year climate-predicting journey.
But back in the 1880s, the groundhog's violent end probably had more to do with hunger than anger.
You may feel like bargaining for a different prediction, a different outcome, but unless you're fluent in Guinea pig latin or groundhogese, you're out of luck.
Depression may set in. The thought of more snow shoveling, inversions, frigid winds, icy roads and bleak days could be enough to drive anyone to despair.
"I think that the snow is taking its toll on a lot of people," says Sunset Mayor Dan Gotchy, who is among many mayors across the Wasatch Front whose budgets for road salt is already spent.
But depression doesn't have to be your answer.
Keith Shields, a member of Punxsutawney Phil's Inner Circle, says at www.groundhog.org that six more weeks of winter means six more weeks of snowmobiling.
So it all depends on your perspective.
Which leads us to the fifth and most useful emotion that comes with the revelation that Jack Frost, as unwelcome a guest as he might be, is going to stay: acceptance.
You may find success at accepting winter in the company of friends, like the 30 Sunset residents who turned out Saturday to see what Sam would see.
The hot chocolate and doughnuts served up by the Sunset Youth Council help, and so does sharing a laugh about the quirky Petco Guinea pig with the uncanny knack of guessing the weather a few days out.
Andrews doesn't predict that Sam will get any more ambitious in the future.Over the past 14 years, Sam has seen the sunset 11 times.
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