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Repeating Groundhog Day

In celebration of the annual rodent festival, I watched Harold Ramis’s movie, “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. The basic premise is that a local TV weatherman, his director and a cameraman are traveling to Punxsutawney, Penn., to cover the groundhog festival for the fourth year in a row, and he is bored with it. I remembered a funny, lighthearted movie with Murray repeating the same day several times, with humorous encounters with the locals and his camera crew. Eventually, by accumulating experience and knowledge, he gets it right and life goes on with our hero, changed from a bored, egocentric jerk into a caring, lovable good guy.Wouldn’t this be neat? I quickly discovered that my memory was slightly off. In fact, this is a dark comedy with the repeated days going on and on and on to the point where Murray tries to kill himself, several days in a row, but nothing works. To get an idea as to how many times he is forced to repeat the day, starting from scratch, he learns the piano, one day at a time, until he is an accomplished jazz and classical pianist. This would take a lot of days.But what if we could choose a day to live over, changing a bad decision or an unfortunate encounter with our preknowledge of the events, thus changing the course of our lives? Well, the premise of this movie does not include choice. It just happens one day and he has to figure out how to get through it. For many of us, this is how our lives go anyway. We just aren’t repeating the same day, although sometimes it sure feels like it.Groundhog Day is supposed to tell us if we are going to have an extended winter — six more weeks. So what if we do? If you dress for the weather it is not such a big deal, setting aside the obvious fact that winter costs us money in heating fuels. But let’s keep going. Most of us are cold in the winter because we just don’t put on enough clothes. The Indians used to put on multiple pairs of moccasins, wrap themselves in furs and sit in a corner, preferably near a settler’s fireplace, until either spring came or the food ran out. Maybe this is where the custom of digging a woodchuck out of his burrow originated?In the end, we learn one important lesson from Groundhog Day. When crowds of visitors descend on a small town, it is good for business.I wonder if we could do something with all these squirrels around here? Bill Abrams resides, day after day, in Pine Plains.

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