The mercury was showing 25 degrees, and snow showers were blowing in Punxsutawney this morning, but clouds notwithstanding, Phil, our national weather-predicting groundhog, managed to see his shadow and retreat quickly into his hole. So, six more weeks of winter. This despite an unusually mild winter inching its way toward spring in my corner of the world. And not only here, tulips already are reported in New England and daffodils in Oklahoma.
Why is it, someone asked on social media yesterday, that we trust a rodent to predict our weather but ignore scientists when they warn us of global warming? I think it’s because we like superstitions. Some of us deny that. Intelligent people aren’t superstitious, we argue. But still we will swerve to avoid walking under a ladder or stepping on a line on the sidewalk.
A few superstitions are regarded as really serious stuff, sacred in some circles. The next time you watch a baseball game on television, notice how carefully players step over the foul line as they take the field. Managers, too, when they approach the mound to make a pitching change.
The world of theater is full of superstitions. A bent nail found backstage is a good omen. It’s bad luck to wish an actor good luck. “Break a leg” is the preferred message. Various theories try to trace the origin of this one, but wherever it started, this good wish is taken seriously and is uttered with sincerity. But watch out for Macbeth. Never speak that word in the theater. Never whistle backstage.
Speaking of whistling, did you know that it’s bad luck to whistle in a newsroom? It’s true. Hard-nosed reporters and editors can be as superstitious as anyone.
As for trusting a rodent to forecast our weather, call me a doubter. If we have six more weeks of winter ahead, I’m ready. Six weeks from now, the annual NCAA basketball tournament will be in full swing. March Madness will have arrived. Spring, too.
Bring it on.