Of Groundhogs and Heroes

We have such mixed feelings about rodents. Hate rats, revere bunnies. Kill mice, make them movie stars. Laugh at lemmings, make beavers a national symbol. But will someone explain to me why the news leads with groundhog sightings? Wiarton Willie says early spring, I’m told, but the American pet hog-caster (Piskaquatty Phil, or some such) says six more weeks of winter. More continental discord. Oh, my. February 2 makes me curmudgeonly. Hey, let’s celebrate ignorance! Let’s pretend that furry critters are news! Sigh. Lighten up, buddy. There go your “Man of the People” credentials. You’ll lose your drive-through status. “Man refused Canadian Maple doughnut – called unpatriotic snob.”

“It is what it is,” I say with Jock Zen wisdom, and turn to the real news. Benjamin James is heading North, groundhogs be darned, for twelve more weeks of winter. He’s my hero today. A teaching job 200 light-years north of Churchill, Manitoba, and he has jumped on it instantly. He’ll teach ESL, some life-skills maths and sciences to the largely Inuit residents of Arviat, Nunavut. He’ll be able to keep working on his novel and other writing. He’ll cut into student debts. He’ll be a service pioneer in the tiny Bahá’í community there. He’ll play trombone to the caribou. How exciting is that? My kid is going to beat me to the Arctic. Lay on, McBen!