2012 may well be the year that stumps even Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary prognosticating rodent. His cousins - Malverne Mel, Holtsville Hal and even his Canadian counterpart, Wiarton Willie - are likely dumbfounded too.
Even while many of us living in northern climates bask in a sun that somehow seems too strong for this post-solstice season, the question on everyone's not-so-frozen lips is somewhat different this year: How many weeks left until winter?
We are, it seems, shadow-boxing with this page of the calendar. And for even the most hibernation-prone among us, the issue has become something to lose sleep over: Where is winter? We are, it seems, being taken by storm in an unexpected way: A blitz of sunshine. And these oddly warmer days have begun to, well, snowball: Day after day of bright sun. A dusting of white to tease us. Even the chipmunks, yawning off their lighter cloak of sleep, seem confused.
Winter itself appears to have gone underground, reveling in the great torpor that was once the province of Phil and his ilk instead. So has the groundhog been deprived of the Arms of Morpheus? Will he ever again manage to achieve the R.E.M. stage of sleep, that deepest level which unwraps the gifts of all our wildest dreams, burrowed beneath consciousness?
To sleep, perchance to dream, dear Phil. Skip the holiday if you must, and snore your happy snore past Feb. 2 and beyond.
It's OK. As long as you close your eyes and dream of winter.
Make it happen. Chuck this weather.
Spring will come soon enough.