groundhog day

we start driving at 11pm.
stop for coffee at a gas station, 2 am. a cop
getting coffee sees us and says are you on
your way to punxatawney?
you know we are.
go home, its gonna be crazy,
that's why we we're coming tho -- we are
craving a little crazy tonight,
see you there, he says.

it's one of those things you can
never forget or outlive.
20,000 people cramming into a field
in rural western pennsylvania
watching ordinary people
playing music and badly dancing in
below freezing temperature in the middle
of the night in the middle of winter,
fireworks, confetti, you start talking
to the strangers next to you in the crowd,
and they're all here for the same reason
as you. it's the middle of winter--
they're bored, they're hoping for something,
anything, a distraction, a reminder of summer,
a connection with someone else who understands.

so we gather in the field under the moon,
freezing, snowing, bonded by
a hope of someday feeling alive again.

at daybreak, the man holds up the woodchuck, and--
i've been really close to woodchucks,
they smell terrible.
surely he is holding it out in outstretched
arms to try to not smell it. but---
a whiff and it brings back a memory of a garden.
of crab apple trees.
a memory of dew on bare feet running
through the yard chasing a groundhog away from
your sunflowers. and he remembers flowers! color!!
in a sudden burst of hope he says,
the groundhog has emerged without a shadow,
and spring is coming early this year.

the crowd erupts in joy.
hope. a fever dream of pure bliss and possibility.

strangers high-five and hug each other. winter is going to end.

we drive home with purpose.
we're gonna make it.

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