Just supppose, in the predawn hours of Feb. 2, the Big Red Phone rings at Weathercaster Central Headquarters in Pennsylvania, and it's the long-suffering groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, telling the boss he won't be in to work?
Or, in Phil's case, he won't be out to work?
Would he stay underground or emerge secretly for a Hollywood-style day of wildness, finally answering the age-old question of how much wood he might truly chuck if his cheerful, cheeky chucking went unchecked?
OK, maybe Phil wouldn't pull a Matthew Broderick-style movie sickout, but face it, if the groundhog ever became a no-show, burrowing down deep beneath the shadows, it would leave the rest of the weather-conscious world in something of a hole too.
Ah, but we do have options. Taking our cue from the current election season here in the U.S., we can hold primaries and elect a stand-in among his various cousins. The prairie dog, after all, has already been given prognosticator status in the American West, where there are no woodchucks to do the dirty work. Further north, some folks look to the mighty marmot.
Then there are the flying squirrels. As nocturnal beings, they would have no shadow-seeking to challange them but perhaps, as these light-footed beings take skyward, we could look for spring in their step instead.
Best of all, there would be no partisan politics to contend with. No mud-slinging - except, as expected, by the beavers.
The Order Rodentia is, thankfully, a nation governed by one party. At least in the political sense.
With regard to other sorts of parties, well, the one-workday-a-year-off for the slacker known as Punxsutawney Bueller could lend new meaning being a party animal altogether: beer can in one paw, TV remote in the other, he'd get his underground stereo blasting.
No doubt he'd boogie to the beat, even after the sun set on the music, chucking as much wood as a woodchuck could, to the song of the day: The BeeGee's "Shadow Dancing."