The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 31, 2010

MICHELE M. BENDER | I’ve had my fill

By MICHELE M. BENDER

“Is it cold enough for you?”

The next person to ask me that will get smacked upside the head.

I loathe cold weather. The older I get, the more I mind it.

I remember white winters from my childhood that lasted from Halloween until Easter. I loved it then.

My friends and I would sled and build snowmen until we turned blue. The borough plowed snow into 4- and

5-foot mounds on the street corners. Boys in our ’hood constructed forts well-stocked with snowball ammunition.

I’d select a mound and create a snowy split-level. Once I even brought out a bucket of water to fashion a windowsill.

I was the Martha Stewart of ice décor.

My mom would have to drag me in the house.

The other day my buddy Music Dude (aka Jonathan) asked, “Do you have cabin fever yet?”

I answered honestly, “No. My problem is I like the cabin TOO MUCH!”

Hibernation totally appeals to me now in my geezer years.

Curl up after New Year’s, snooze until Easter … yeah, I could do that.

Punxsutawney Phil will make his prediction in a few days. Last year, he was wrong.

We didn’t get the six additional weeks of winter. That was fine with me.

The last shovel-able snow we had fell the third week of March. We got a chilly, but early, spring. We also suffered a ridiculously nippy June, July and August, which folks referred to as “the summer that wasn’t.”

If I was a groundhog, peacefully hibernating, and a few thousand noisy revelers interrupted my slumber, I might tell a lie, too.

I’ve only ever gotten up close and personal with a groundhog once.

One summer day, we awakened to one sunbathing on our deck. Bold as could be, he stretched out next to a chaise lounge.

Contrary to the images of loveable Gus, who sells us our lottery tickets, and cuddly Phil, noncelebrity groundhogs are territorial, irritable and downright nasty.

He caused quite a stir on our block for two days. One neighbor even volunteered to fetch his shotgun. We reminded him of penalties for firing a weapon in the borough and pointed out that he’d then be guilty of … HOGICIDE!

In the end, the groundhog left as abruptly as he’d appeared.

I love the current TV commercial to promote yearlong tourism in Punxsutawney.

“Come visit Jefferson County,” they suggest enthusiastically, “and get more than your Phil!”

I’ve already had more than my fill. Bring on spring and summer.